An auction purchase is but an occasional means of adding to the VNP archive but this was an occasion difficult to resist: some 100 copies of Page County papers, mostly post Civil War to early 20th century, presented for sale by Jeffrey S. Evans & Associates of Mt. Crawford, Virginia.
This constitutes a significant boost to the Project’s holding for this northern Shenandoah Valley county, modest in population (about 8500 in 1870, just under three times that figure today), but varied and active in its publishing history.
The discovery in 1878 of an enormous and oddly decorated hole in the ground transformed Luray, the county seat, from a quiet Page Valley town to a still reasonably quiet but increasingly popular tourist destination. Visitors arrived first by train and then, as the 20th century progressed, by car and then even more cars after the completion in the 1930’s of Skyline Drive atop the Blue Ridge, the town’s very permanent neighbor to its immediate east. Of the eight Luray papers in the purchase, the Times claims the most impressive and detailed masthead. From an issue of 1890:
The Reconstruction period is represented by copies of the Page Valley Courier, which in two years underwent a rapid turnover of owners resulting in a trio of mottoes reflecting the political reordering of the time. Pictured below (click to enlarge), the masthead as it appeared in its inaugural issue of March 15, 1867:
By the issue below of January 10, 1868, original editors Larkins and Price have departed, and for that matter so have two other editors, H. H. Propes and J. D. Price. The Courier is now run by James F. Clark who chose a motto endorsing the primacy of white citizenship over that of recently emancipated blacks and the paper’s strong Democratic, decidedly not Republican, party sympathies.
Perhaps this declaration was too crude and blunt in its delivery. So may have thought the next editor, F. M. Perry, who arrived the following October with a motto that exhorts the readership to get going an in undetermined direction, and fast:
In 1911 the Page News and Courier merged with the Page News to form, no, not the Page News and News and Courier, but the Page News and Courier which is still published today with a circulation of over 8,000.
Only one of the lot features a newspaper from outside Luray and it originates in Stanley, a community seven miles to the south. The Stanley Herald is the sole paper in the town’s history. It published for eight years (1891-1899) before vanishing as the town’s commercial potential broke pace with the paper’s ambition. Stanley’s current population stands at about 1700.
Copies are rare. The Project can now claim five issues.
Microfilming, now underway, will also include those Page County papers previously held by the Project archive. Among them, a high school paper of 1956 from Shenandoah, a town at the southern end of Page Valley:
And also from 1956, when Skyline Drive was beginning to enjoy its golden years as a boomer family destination, a map which unfolds as the centerpiece of a 32 page newspaper guide published by Shenandoah National Park.