Monthly Archives: June 2012

100 Years Ago Today: Chaos at the Republican Convention

Front page of June 21, 1912 issue of the Times Dispatch.
The ascension of Mitt Romney, though drawn out, is boring by comparison to the Republican Convention of 1912. The June 21, 1912 issue of the The Times Dispatch devoted nearly the entire front page to the activities of the major parties in preparing for the November election. The headline declares “Beat to Frazzle, Roosevelt May Quit Republican Party.” The previous evening in Chicago, former President Theodore Roosevelt spoke to the convention saying, “If the people want a progressive party, I’ll be in it,” and “I shall have to see if there is a popular demonstration for me to run.” There were challenges to the credentials of delegates for Taft and Roosevelt, each seeking to advance their own candidate’s interests.

Two articles describe the chaos of the day’s events at the Republican Convention. One article describes that the official business at the meeting for the previous day lasting 5 minutes.… read more »

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The Big Stone Post

Big Stone Gap Post Dec. 15, 1892

The setting for John Fox Jr.’s 1908 novel Trail of the Lonesome Pine, Big Stone Gap in Wise County is situated along the Powell River in a remote and rugged valley of the far southwestern region of Virginia. In the 1880s, the town (once known as Mineral City) had three farms, two small country stores, and a handful of mills. But the laying of several railroad lines into the Gap in the early 1890s–for the transport of coal and timber between Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee–transformed the isolated hamlet into a bustling gateway of industrial activity. As the region grew, eastern speculators promoted movement to and investment in the area.

In 1890, Colonel Charles E. Sears, first president of the Improvement Company, took over the Commercial Club and shortly thereafter established The Big Stone Post, a weekly newspaper. Colonel Sears unabashedly pitched the considerable advantages of Big Stone Gap, sending out prospectuses and placing advertisements in metropolitan newspapers throughout the East. One such prospectus, appearing in 1890 in Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper in New York City, described the Gap as a “wild and picturesque defile in Big Stone Mountain, an elongated spur forming a part of the Cumberland range of mountains just to the eastward of the Kentucky State Line.” The article also boasted of the town’s electric light plant, street railway, and waterworks.

In the first issue of The Big Stone Post, published on August 15, 1890, Sears explained that his purpose was “to advertise the material resources of the Appalachian district; [and] to show to the rest of the country that Big Stone Gap possesses paramount advantage over all other locations as a manufacturing and distributing point.” The same issue reported on railroads, coke plants, and other internal improvements … read more »

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Metro Virginia News/The Public Pamphlet Two Papers/Two Dynamos

An earlier posting promised some additional remarks about a pair of recent arrivals to the LVA/VNP microfilm collection:  the Metro Virginia News and the Public Pamphlet of Leesburg, Virginia.  Rather than just a masthead, as earlier, let’s take a look at a complete front-page for each of these Northern Virginian papers.  First the weekly Metro Virginia News:

This copy of July, 1974 is an example of the paper at its best. It provides to readers detailed coverage of a local governing decision relating to an issue of increasing concern and debate: managing economic growth. The goal was to provide an alternative to the more established Loudoun Times-Mirror, a paper without competition since the mid 1950’s, and to the advantage of interested readers, they often succeeded. But, as journalist A. J. Leibling reminds,  “The function of the press in society is to inform, but its role in society is to make money.”  The enterprise was ill-timed.  It coincided with a recession.

The Metro Virginia News published for just over two years, November of 1972 until December 1974, reaching a circulation of about 4000, some 8000 shy of the Times-Mirror.  A financial sinkhole, not profit, beckoned.  The newspaper, as well as ownership of the more solidly grounded Fauquier Democrat to the county south, was sold to Arthur Arundel, publisher of, pause, the Times-Mirror.  The Democrat continued while the Metro Virginia News, to no one’s surprise, was shuttered.

But to return to the paper’s origin – an experienced editor, a young and extremely capable staff cannot simply will itself into being.  Who provided the catalyst of money?

Again Leibling, a remark in greater circulation than of previous:  “Freedom of the Press is guaranteed only to those who own one.”  Helmi Carr, unhappy with her representation in the local … read more »

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How much was that? continued…

Advertisements from the Blue Ridge Herald (Purcellville, Virginia), Jan. 6, 1955

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