front page - 4/1902

On June 18, 2019, LNP celebrated its 225th anniversary. The earliest newspaper to which today’s LNP traces its roots was the Lancaster Journal, first published on June 18, 1794, by William Hamilton and Henry Willcocks from a news office located in a tavern building at the King Street site of the current LNP building.

To celebrate 225 years of Lancaster newspapers, we present this series of 52 front pages from the history of the newspapers which would eventually become LNP. 

April fool!

April Fool’s Day is perhaps the most maligned of the calendar holidays. Either the joke is obvious and therefore unfunny, or the joke is too good and the fooled take up arms against the joker. Depending on which historical source you consult, April Fool’s Day, or All Fool’s Day, originated in various cultures and time periods dating back to the 16th century. Regardless of the true starting point, by April 1, 1902, the day was planted firmly in the heads of the editors of the Daily New Era. Though our modern eyes couldn’t catch any purposefully false stories, one front page story mentions that at least a few hijinks were perpetrated in Lancaster:

“Being All Fool’s Day, the young folks had their fun of it, and some folks not so young, either, and it is to be supposed that all the old tricks were brought into play for the purpose of the unwary.”

In the 19th and 20th centuries, the newspaper business, later joined by radio and television, would hit a peak of yearly jokes at readers’ expense.

On one All Fool’s Day circa 1845, the Boston Post broke the “news” to readers that a hidden door leading to a cave full of jewels and old coins had been discovered under a fallen tree in Boston Common.

Witnesses later described townspeople from all walks of life heading to the Common with treasure on the brain.

In 1923, the Los Angeles Times proclaimed in large letters on the front page that “Health Can ‘Be Caught’ Says Savant – Just Breathe Same Air as Persons Physically Fit, He Advises.”

Not to be outdone, Lancaster has its own checkered past with pranks of different stripes. Most notorious was a 1990 article stating that a giant eagle had flown off with a small dog named Pookie.

“Searchers recovered [Pookie’s] collar two days later encapsulated in a ball of hair beneath a large pine tree in the area of the attack,” wrote then-outdoors columnist Jack Hubley. More than 100 angry, confused and amused calls were received within the next few days.

Some pranks, however, were just lame.

Right on the front page of the 1967 New Era, Franklin & Marshall College senior Justin Newmark stood next to the dastardly prank perpetrated on him – his car wrapped in discarded copies of the New Era, with a note attached that read “To open; Chew along dotted line.”