Front page - 1820

On June 18, 2019, LNP will celebrate 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. 

Pay up

This edition of the Lancaster Journal contains a prominent notice from Juliana Hamilton, widow to one of the Journal’s founders, William Hamilton, for those with outstanding debts to come forward and pay them. While notices such as these are quite common for the time period, this one is memorable due to the forms of late payment being requested – namely subscriptions, advertisements and handbills. Though it is not explicitly mentioned, it can be assumed that the payments went to Hamilton’s funeral arrangements and/or his widow.

On the wire

On nearly the full right side of the newspaper is an early example of the Journal printing information from a newswire source. In this case, it’s a report from the Pennsylvania Legislature filed by the Harrisburg Chronicle, which would fold in 1842. In some cases, the legislative reports wouldn’t be out of place in 2018, such as a bill aiming to end horse racing and another seeking to lower the salaries of the governor and secretary of the commonwealth. Others, however, are very much of the time. A Mr. Estep put forth a motion to legally prevent large cattle and sheep from “running at large” within Chester County, while a Mr. Wilkins pleaded with the courts to restrain “habitual drunkards” and “prevent the existence hereafter of such evils and distress.” The former was denied and the latter passed.

It’s good for you

In 1820, advertisements were still a long way off from what we know today. Some of the popular clichés in selling medicine are the old “four out of five doctors agree” or a throwaway, one-line testimonial from a patient. In this edition of the Journal, multiple paragraphs are taken up by nearly a dozen short stories of patients getting sick and then healed by Clarkson Freeman. Freeman, who was operating a shop on South Queen Street near the county courthouse, seemingly had the cure for every possible ailment. Each tale is framed the same way – some poor Lancaster resident is ailed with a violent cough, venomous snakebite, night sweats or something similarly treacherous, before Freeman helped heal them. In the introductory paragraph, Freeman notes these testimonials came from the sources themselves, meaning these reviews were probably not subject to the same strict requirements as medicinal advertising today.