Tag Archives: Publishing History

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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Fit To Add: New to LVA/VNP Microfilm Archive

What follows is a listing of some recent additions to the Project microfilm archive, each from Northern Virginia and each resulting from a generous loan by the Thomas Balch Library of Leesburg.


Loudoun Times-Mirror Masthead

 

The Times-Mirror publishing history begins in 1924 and continues today in a decentralized form, with separate bureaus and editions spread across Northern Virginia. Our holdings are strong from the mid century on but there are gaps especially in the late 1920’s and into the early years of the Depression. It is most gratifying then, for this addition from the Balch which addresses one year, 1934, in a complete January to December run.

 

The image above (click to enlarge) is the front page of February 22. The paper, a weekly, with its seven column width and assortment of staggered, vertically stacked headlines suggests the vitality of a more metropolitan base than its actual home in Leesburg. The use of the Cheltenham font in three headlines (“Racing Bills Pass Today In House”, for example) and, for that matter, the design of the masthead, lend a curiously contemporary quality to the Times-Mirror by mirroring (sorry) today’s New York Times (print edition, for readers of only the internet).

That drawn depiction of George Washington on this same front page provides a segue to the next paper from Leesburg,

Masthead of the Washingtonian.

With a lifetime five years shy of a hundred (1808-1903) perhaps no other Virginia newspaper crosses the breadth of the 19th century with so continuous an identity. You’ll see below examples here of The Washingtonian early and late from its history.


washingtonian1815-page-001


washingtonian1901-page-001

 

The roughly 300 hundred copies loaned to us by the Balch Library filled numerous gaps in our microfilm archive and replaced earlier images with improved versions. Restoration prior to filming was no minor undertaking, so credit here to Silver Persinger … read more »

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The Free Lance

Located in Spotsylvania County, 61 miles north of Richmond and 60 miles south of Washington, D.C., between the Tidewater and Piedmont regions of Virginia, Fredericksburg was a major port on the Rappahannock River, a significant crossroads during the late 18th and early 19th centuries and an important center of trade and commerce. The town was also the scene of fierce fighting and considerable destruction during the Civil War.

In an attempt to offer an alternative voice in postwar Virginia and to help boost the slowly recovering regional economy, the Free Lance was established in Fredericksburg in 1885 under the leadership of William E. Bradley and John W. Woltz, a former chairman of Virginia’s Republican delegation. Thirty-four stockholders also contributed to the operations of the paper as investors in the Free Lance Newspaper and Job Printing Company. It was apparent from the earliest issues of the Free Lance that the war was deeply imprinted on people’s minds and that political divisions in the South were still bitterly contentious. The Free Lance characterized itself as an “Independent” paper “devoted to Agricultural, Commercial and Manufacturing Interests of Fredericksburg and its Vicinity.” Its chief competitors, the Fredericksburg Star and the News, were decidedly Democratic. The Star immediately questioned the political leanings of Woltz and the paper’s stockholders, prompting the Free Lance in its second issue to reply: “We repeat, we see enough already to convince us that the Star is disposed ‘to pick a quarrel’ with the Lance, which we shall be slow to enter, and which we now proclaim will be unprofitable, unwise and which, we shall avoid if possible and permitted.”

In fact, the Free Lance defended its mission–and its stockholders–with vigor. “Republicans, (even though they be unnatural human beings from the standpoint of the Star), don’t feel like … read more »

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