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In conjunction with the Library of Virginia’s current exhibition, Teetotalers & Moonshiners: Prohibition in Virginia, the Virginia Newspaper Project has made its sole issue of the Prohibition newspaper Anti-Liquor available on Virginia Chronicle.
Established in 1890 by John R. Moffet, Reverend of Memorial Baptist Church in Danville, Virginia, the weekly newspaper was, “issued for the sole purpose of educating the people upon the evils of the drink habit, and especially to turn light upon the question of Legal Prohibition.”
According to Lester Cappon’s Virginia Newspapers 1821-1935, a Lynchburg temperance monthly, the Truth, was absorbed by Anti-Liquor in 1891. Moffet continued editing the paper after the merger until he was gunned down by one of his many political opponents in Danville on November 11, 1892. A history of the Reverend Moffet’s church explained, “John R. Moffett died a martyr’s death at the hand of an assassin’s bullet for the cause of temperance.” Anti-Liquor ceased publication shortly after his death.
And visit the Library tonight, May 5, for what promises to be a fun event: “Goodbye, Booze”: The Music of Prohibition (with a Beer Chaser), offering traditional live music and beer crafted in honor of the Library’s exhibition. The event goes from 5:30 to 7:30, so come thirsty and ready to learn more about Prohibition, one of our nation’s most intriguing experiments.
The Virginia Newspaper Project cannot resist the compelling story that is the Titanic. On April 16, 1912, the Richmond Times Dispatch issued its Tuesday morning paper with a full report about a tragedy at sea. The newspaper’s staff could not possibly know that 100 plus years later, the story would continue to fascinate and be studied in minute detail.
Fit to Print offers just one image, the front page of the Times Dispatch, April 16, 1912. While reporting a story of disaster, hubris, and loss of life, the staff at the RTD also managed to assemble one of the most beautifully designed front pages that the Newspaper Project colleagues have seen, given that we have scanned literally hundreds of front pages over the years.
Prelude to Prohibition: The State Referendum Vote September 22, 1914: The Recorder, Post & Enterprise
It was Wet vs. Dry and City vs. Country and Dry Country won. It wasn’t even close. The advocates for Prohibition themselves might have been surprised by the disparity of the result–a win for Virginia prohibition by over thirty thousand votes–94,251 to 63,086. City drinkers likely peered into their empty glasses the evening of September 22, 1914, surer in the knowledge that legislation to ban liquor in the state would soon follow. And it did.
For more detail and the broader context of this debate–more votes were cast in the prohibition referendum vote than in the presidential election that November!–I refer you to two articles by our LVA sister blog “Out Of The Box.”
The Mapp Act passed and went into effect November 1, 1916. Virginia, then, had a head start of four years to the arrival of national prohibition.
The specific purpose of this blog entry is the encouragement of your physical presence at the Library of Virginia’s exhibit “Teetotalers & Moonshiners: Prohibition in Virginia, Distilled,” now open to the public. A hundred years after prohibition, we’re confidant you’ll depart with a different awareness of an unusual episode in the state’s history.Each state in the Union took its own particular route to prohibition until the constitutional amendment of 1920. A key date in Virginia’s path was the approval of local option in 1886, allowing for a community or county’s voters to determine their stance on the sale and distribution of alcohol. The map above illustrates the camps and lines of the liquor divide. Note, for example, in a concentration of ink, Fort Norfolk, a seaside stronghold hostile to the dry life.
There was no shortage of political contentiousness in the run-up to the referendum. The very organized, determined drys, abetted by grassroots religious fervor, drove the … read more »
It provides great satisfaction to the Virginia Newspaper Project staff when rare, historical newspapers surface thanks to thoughtful Library patrons–recently some twentieth century newspapers were donated that are wonderful additions to the Library of Virginia’s current collection.
The Camp Pickett News, a weekly camp newspaper published out of Blackstone, Virginia during World War II, was given to the Library by the daughter of a soldier stationed at the camp during the war.
Three issues, from July 1942, offer a vibrant picture of camp life for the young soldier. The News included articles like “V-Mail Forms Now Available at Post Office” and “An Innocent Looking Weapon,” with a photograph of a machine gun that could “spew death at the enemy too fast for comfort.” Each issue also listed a schedule of religious worship services and contained an array of photographs, comics, sports news and local advertisements.
One article, “Soldiers Take 300 Pictures of Themselves,” foretold of the now common selfie:”‘Vanity, vanity, all is vanity,’” the story reported, “When the Bard of Avon penned those immortal lines he, of course, had no idea there would ever be a World War 2, nor that hundreds of perspiring Camp Pickett soldiers would be cheerfully standing in line awaiting the opportunity to drop their dimes in an automatic picture-taking machine.”
The July 29, 1942 issue contains a sweet personal touch on its masthead. Referring to an article about a royal holiday in Lynchburg, there is a hand written note, penned by our donor’s father to his mother which reads, “This is the trip I was going to make. It fell through but will try it again, probably Aug. 8th.”
A newspaper called Onward was also recently given to the Library by a patron whose mother had collected it. The donated issues of Onward, a … read more »
It was out of necessity that Clementina Rind became Virginia’s first woman newspaper publisher. After the death of her husband, William, in 1773, she had to keep his printing office going to support herself and her children.
Though little is known of Clementina’s early life, she and her husband arrived in Williamsburg from Maryland in late 1765 or early 1766 on the invitation of influential Virginians, including Thomas Jefferson, to start a newspaper to compete with the already established Virginia Gazette.
The first issue of Rind’s Virginia Gazette was published May 16, 1766 with the motto, “Open to ALL PARTIES, but Influenced by NONE.” For seven years Rind built a successful newspaper and printing business in Williamsburg, also winning the appointment of public printer to the colony. But in 1773, in the midst of his success, William died from what was described as a “tedious and painful illness” at age 39.
“As Clementina traversed the liminal space that Saturday morning after the funeral,” explains biographer Martha J. King, “she was not simply retreating to a private domestic life but also entering a public arena as a printer’s widow. Home and work were integrally tied. With living quarters and printing office under the same roof, it is likely that Clementina and her older children had worked alongside William Rind (Virginia Women: Their Lives and Times, 75).”
Faced with the death of her husband and the reality of supporting her family without him—a daunting prospect, for sure—she seized the opportunity and used her skills to carry on as printer of the Virginia Gazette. She continued William’s endeavor without any suspension in publication and in the same issue of the Gazette which printed William’s obituary, Clementina is named as its printer.
“I was a race driver before I ever hit the track,” said Wendell Scott, the first African American to race NASCAR’s Grand National circuit, in a 1982 interview with the Richmond Times Dispatch. As a moonshine runner, Wendell Scott expertly skirted police on the winding country roads surrounding his Danville, Virginia home. In his own words, Scott proclaimed himself “the greatest moonshine runner of them all, dusting off deputies in a 1946 Packard loaded with jars full of white lightnin’ on a run between Danville, Va., and Charlotte, N.C.”[i]
During prohibition, bootleggers started modifying their cars to go faster and handle better than the cars pursuing them. Though prohibition ended in 1933, the South’s love of moonshine persisted, and so the time-honored custom of outrunning the police to transport illicit goods for profit continued. It was out of the necessity for a speedy vehicle that stock car racing was born. “The need to prove who had the fastest car,” Suzanne Wise explains, “led to weekend races at tracks carved out of pastures and corn fields.”[ii]
And it was via moonshine running that Scott found his way to becoming a bonafide stock car racer. In the 1950s, the Dixie Circuit, a competitor of NASCAR, in an attempt to attract larger audiences to its Danville events, came up with the idea of adding a black driver to its field of exclusively white competitors. Local authorities in Danville were asked who the fastest black driver in town was. The immediate answer was a resounding “Wendell Scott,” followed up by something along the lines of, “We’ve been chasing him for years.”[iii]
Running moonshine provided Scott with the skill he needed as a driver, but his mechanic’s knowledge would prove invaluable during his race career as well. As a child, Scott helped … read more »
The Virginia Newspaper Project loves promoting the Virginia Chronicle newspaper database, but if you need to expand your research from Virginia to other U.S. states, then Chronicling America is the place to visit.
One example of the breadth and depth of the Chron Am database is the 55 African American newspapers from across the US, available online in Chronicling America, (Twitter, #ChronAm).
From the District of Columbia and Virginia to Utah, Idaho, and Louisiana, you can search a wide array of African American titles, with issues dating back to 1850 (The National Era) and up to 1922 (The Richmond Planet, The Appeal, and others).
A Valentine’s Day Search Uncovers a West Virginia Love Grump: The Wheeling Daily Intelligencer, February 1856-1859
The Newspaper Project observes Valentine’s Day with a reminder of the search capacity within Virginia Chronicle and the felicities of discovery (spend a morning reading mid 19th century editorials and you’ll write like this too) therein.
From the 136 total titles digitized (that’s over 900,000 pages, a million is in sight. . .when we cross that threshold, be assured you’ll be advised) we chose a West Virginia Daily whose digitization resulted from our ongoing partnership with West Virginia University:Virginia Chronicle’s pre-Civil War holdings start in 1852 and conclude seven years later, leaving seven Februarys to explore. If you select the word “Valentine” and narrow the search to the Wheeling Daily Intelligencer, here’s how the results appear:Most of these hits are of proper names or modestly scaled advertisements typical of the time, like the following of 1856:Eight days later, the anti-Cupid appears:
If there’s any hostility in the subterranean heart of Valentine’s Day, our writer is sensitive to it. Though this unsigned Wheeling editorialist is unroused to rancor in 1857, he resurfaces the following year. Can we be sure it’s the same writer? Oh, I think so:
Reading this, one’s curiosity is powered to know more of the cultural context of Valentine’s Day in mid-19th century America. And also, what’s with this guy? Here he (I think we can assume this is not a Miss Angry Hearts) is again, twice more, February 1859:
One tender Valentine to our anonymous writer might have prevented all of the above.… read more »
“Who hath despised the day of small things?” read the motto of the Riverside, a company newspaper published in Shenandoah Iron Works (SIW), located in Page County, Virginia. To be sure, even the small things were important in what was then a remote and rustic company town, including a simple, little newspaper printed monthly for the people who lived in and worked for Shenandoah Iron Works.
Thanks to a cooperative partnership with the Huntington Library in Pasadena, California, the Library of Virginia has one issue of the very rare Riverside available in its Virginia Chronicle database, which now contains over 900,000 digitized newspaper pages.
Shenandoah Furnace was built in 1836, though what ultimately became the Shenandoah Iron Works was conceived after brothers Daniel and Henry Forrer purchased 34,483 acres of land from Samuel Gibbens in 1837. Soon after acquiring the land, the Brothers established a post office and named the town Shenandoah Iron Works. Two more furnaces, Catherine and No. 2, as well as a forge, were added to the iron works where pig iron and tools were produced.
After the Civil War, the Forrer brothers, financially scarred by the devaluation of Confederate currency, sold the operation to a group of Pennsylvania industrialists. “The scale of its operations as measured in the production of pig iron, blooms, iron manufacturers and numbers of employees made Shenandoah one of the foremost industrial establishments in the northern and central Shenandoah Valley,” wrote Charles Ballard in his history of the SIW, “This industry and the community clustered around it evolved from an antebellum iron plantation into a postbellum company town.(The Shenandoah Iron Works, 1836-1907, p.1)”
SIW reached … read more »
The end of January 2017 marks the beginning of the Year of the Rooster in the Chinese Zodiac. To celebrate, we searched Virginia Chronicle for rooster-related stories and images–below is a sampling of what we found. It includes how a rooster saved the day for one little boy.