Phoenixville Phriday: The Pennypacker Tragedy

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Disasters on RailroadsLast week we made mention of a railroad tragedy on the Pickering Valley Railroad, where a cow on the tracks led to the death of an engineer. But an 1877 storm led to a much bigger disaster, at the time the most fatal train wreck in Chester County history.

On Oct. 4, 1877, a torrential rainstorm washed out the track near Kimberton. The railroad was running a locomotive, two passenger cars, and a combination milk and baggage car (as the line’s primary business was milk runs). Up in Schwenksville that day, at what is now called Pennypacker Mills, was a reunion of the Pennypacker family, to which 1500 descendants of Heinrich Pennypacker, who settled in the area around 1700, were invited, and they came from all over the country. Rain forced the celebration indoors for the most part. Returning to their homes in the evening, reunion attendees made up most of the 130 passengers who left Phoenixville just before 6 p.m. for Byers Station. As The New York Times put it:

“The night had closed in intensely dark, rain was falling in torrents, the small streams along the route had overflowed their banks, and in many places the track was covered with water, which the ditches were unable to carry off as fast as it fell. Near Kimberton, about four miles from Phoenixville, the train ran into a wash-out at least 30 feet deep. The train consisted of the engine, two passenger cars, and a combination baggage and milk car, in the order named. The engine fell a mass of shattered iron at the bottom of the cavity, instantly killing the engineer, Frank Kenney, and the fireman, George Griffith. Conductor Golden, Brakeman Major, and Baggage-master Gamewell were in the baggage car, which remained on the track and escaped without injury. The first passenger car fell on top of the engine, and the second went crashing down on both, tearing off the roof of the first car, its end remaining on the bank. The conductor walked to a farm-house in the neighborhood, procured a horse and wagon, and drove back to Phoenixville, from which he sent a train with surgeons and medical appliances. It was 8:30 when the relief train felt its way cautiously to the edge of the chasm, and the storm was still raging furiously. By this time many of the wounded had been rescued and cared for in the baggage car and in the neighboring farmhouses, though the work of getting them up from the badly-shattered wreck was one of great difficulty. The wounded, of whom there is a terribly long list, were first attended to, and then the dead were got out from the wreck, the body of the fireman, Griffith, not being reached until late to-day.”

A 1999 article said that the bells in Phoenixville were rung to call rescuers to the train that went to the scene. It also said that the Masonic Hall became a morgue for the dead, and physicians came in from Pottstown and Norristown. The Times listed seven killed, including Nathan Pennypacker, and thirty-two wounded, including a barrel full of Pennypackers. A coroner’s jury noted that there had been two inches of rain between 5 and 6 p.m., and 4.92 inches had fallen in total; the jury called the storm “not only severe, but indeed phenomenal.” There was no question that this tremendous torrent through a steep gully of sandy soil was phenomenal, but the jury did find some design flaws in that the railroad had not allowed for sufficient drainage in the area. But it also did something else stupid and possibly lethal on a dark and stormy night: it ran with the engine backwards, its light shining onto the tank, not out onto the tracks. Somewhat different from the Times account, the jury found the train was constructed as follows:

“First, the engine reversed, with tank foremost and engine running backward, with the head light upon the front end of the tank as it ran; second, the gentlemen’s car, on the night in question, occupied by both sexes; third, the combination of ladies’ and baggage car in one; fourth, and last, the milk car . . . The train was run in this manner in violation of the rules of the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad Company, operators of the Pickering Valley Railroad …”

The jury found that if the railroad had followed its own rules, the order of the cars would have been locomotive and tank first, milk car second, and then the two passenger cars; the rear car would have been the gentlemen’s car, which theoretically would have remained on the track, which the milk car did. Of course, the women would still have been toast, but so it goes.

They found another problem, too, and thought that perhaps the practice of putting iron bars across the windows wasn’t necessarily in the best interests of passengers:

“We find that the practice of the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad Company, in placing rods of iron across the outside of the windows of its passenger cars, forming an unyielding grating, is one fraught with great danger. In an accident similar to that on the Pickering Valley Railroad, on the evening of October 4th, by the windows being clear of these obstructions, the escape of passengers from a wrecked train would be greatly facilitated.”


Maps to Swear By, Not At

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Jim Fisk MapsHoxsie is at the age where he has probably forgotten more than he currently knows. And then he’ll run across an old article and the light will go off: “Hey, I used to know that!” For instance, this article from the Schenectady Gazette in 1970 was a reminder that local television personality Jim Fisk, a legend among local baby boomers as the “Uncle Jim Fisk” who hosted the Freihofer BreadTime Stories show, was also the man who put the Capital District on the map. Literally. He founded JIMAPCO, which for many years was the premiere (and sometimes the only) choice for local maps.

According to his obituary (he died Jan. 8, 2011), Fisk was a Glens Falls/Hudson Falls native who studied math and theatrical set design at Yale. After serving as an officer in the Army during World War II, he came back home and started work as a staff artist for WRGB in 1945, and became the host of the Freihofer show in 1956, where he finished the “squiggles” of children.

According to the Gazette article, he began mapmaking in 1965 in an effort to clarify lines where he lived in Niskayuna. “We were located right in between various lines – town, county, postal and school and there was so much confusion that I decided to straighten things out.” By the time this article ran, business was “getting so good now that he may be able to make maps exclusively.” He was releasing an atlas of seven area maps: Balltown/Suburbia, Route 50-Suburbia, Schenectady-Scotia, Rotterdam Suburbia, Saratoga Suburbia, Clifton Park/Suburbia, and Routes 5/7 Suburbia. (Mapmaking was a strength; consistent approach to hyphens and virgules, not so much.) The atlas could be purchased as Union Book Store or Culver Office Equipment.

Jimapco 1977In the early days, the maps were certainly not beautiful, particularly by later full-color standards, but they were clean and easy to follow. The business grew, and Jim Fisk retired, leaving it to his son, David. When David and his wife Christina retired earlier this summer, the retail store on Route 9 in Round Lake closed but the online business continues and paper maps are still for sale there and at Wilderness, Water & Woods on Route 9.

The internet and online mapping is a wonderful thing, but in a future where paper maps no longer exist, how will future historians look back and figure out what was where?

Mann and Anker

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Mann and Anker 1898We aren’t very familiar with Mann & Anker (or Mann, Waldman & Co., for that matter), but can only imagine what their store was like in 1898 when Fashion’s Queen held court there and gave her devotees the opportunity to pay her homage.

In 1899, both Mann & Anker, “makers of ladies’ garments,” and Mann & Waldmann, “wholesale dealers in ladies’ suits,” were destroyed by a fire that swept that stretch of South Pearl Street, in which “eight firms doing a prosperous business had their stock totally destroyed.” But they seem to have come back from that and returned to business at the same address; we find references to them at least through 1909. The building still stands across from the Times-Union Center at the corner of Hudson Avenue.

With all this ladies’ garment-making going on, you can well imagine that Lester Mann and F.L. Anker of Albany, New York, also have their names appear on a patent in 1898 – for a painter’s scaffold. Their improvement was that there were hinged sides so the painters couldn’t walk off the edge of an exterior scaffold.

Phoenixville Phriday: All Caused By A Cow

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All Caused By A CowHoxsie was surprised to search through an online archive of California newspapers and find more than a few stories that originated in his newish hometown of Phoenixville, PA. Some were of tragedy, some were of no consequence at all, but all were printed a long way from where they happened. In this case, the San Francisco Call of August 5, 1895, told the tale of tragedy on the Pickering Valley Railroad the day before:

“The passenger train on the Pickering Valley Railroad, due here at 8:40 o’clock, ran into a cow a short distance from Pemberton [sic; Kimberton], three miles from here, to-night. The engine left the track, several cars following it over a steep embankment. The engineer, Joseph Grow of Phoenixville, was instantly killed, and the fireman dangerously hurt, while half a dozen passengers were perhaps fatally injured. They were members of the Salvation Army from here, returning from Fegleys Grove, where a meeting was held to-day. The wreck occurred near the spot where so many members of the Pennypacker family were killed in a wreck some years ago.”

The Pickering Valley Railroad opened in October 1871, running from Phoenixville (where it connected with the Reading at what is now called Columbia Station) to Byers in Upper Uwchlan, near Eagle. It primarily served as a milk run, but also carried passengers, sometimes to tragic results. More on that next week.

A tiny bit of Pickering Valley Railroad track remains, up on the wall along Bridge Street, leading into the old Reading station. You can see it here.

The Value of the Telephone (and of Miss Worth)

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The Telephone Review 1914Now that we live in a time when it appears that most people feel the need to be engaged in telephone conversations at all moments of the day – while driving a car, while conducting a transaction, while going to the bathroom – it’s perhaps hard for some to imagine that there was a time when the telephone company had to sell people on the utility of telephone service. But so it was.

In 1914, The Telephone Review, the house organ of the New York Telephone Company, provided this article from the Waterford Advertiser, under the heading “The Value of the Telephone,” to drive home the advantage of voice communications by wire, particularly for places whose fire alarms appear to have been burned down.

“The value of the telephone and a live operator was shown on Tuesday evening, May 2, about 11:30 o’clock, in Waterford. The village was quiet, and a fire was discovered in the Waterford Woolen Mills, situated at the head of Ballston Street. Since the burning of the Town Hall, on which was located the fire alarm, the village has been handicapped. An alarm was sounded on the steamer house bell, which, however, can be heard only a short distance. Word was sent to Miss Adelaide Worth, the efficient chief operator in Waterford of the New York Telephone Company. The fire was burning briskly at the time and no apparatus had yet arrived. Miss Worth, realizing the situation, telephoned the Reverend Alfred H. Valiquette, pastor of St. Mary’s Church, asking him to ring the church bell, which he did immediately, and the firemen were soon on the scene and succeeded in saving adjoining property.

Thirty minutes later, while the firemen were at this fire, another fire was discovered in a residence across the street from the Ford Hose House, and as the firemen were all away from the fire headquarters, Miss Worth again appealed to the clergyman, who again sounded the alarm, and a quick response was made, with a damage to the building of only $100. The loss to the Woolen Mill amounted to $10,000. Much credit is due to the operator for her action.”


A look inside the offices of the Albany Morning Express

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In its 51 years or so, the Albany Morning Express saw some tremendous changes, which it chronicled in its 50th anniversary coverage. They noted that when they began publication in 1847, the city of Albany contained 45,000 inhabitants, making it the 10th largest city in the United States at the time. There was only a single railroad connecting it with New York City. “The traveler to Boston took passage on the Boston, Albany and Troy road, and a line of railway connected Albany, Troy and Saratoga. Trains for the west left the railway terminus on State street at the top of the hill, from which point the cars descended to Broadway, received their passengers and were drawn back by means of windlass and tackle.” It was a very different city.

“Fifty years ago, all the streets in Albany were paved with cobblestones. For this purpose cobblestones are but little better than watermelons or overripe eggs. At the present time Albany has many miles of granite blocks, brick and concrete pavement. Albany is fast becoming one of the best paved cities in the country. Properly paved streets, added to our beautiful parks drives and boulevard [sic] are fast making Albany a very desirable city to visit and reside in.”

In 1897, the offices of  the Morning Express and the Evening Journal, both owned by political boss William D. Barnes, were in the Journal building at 59 and 61 State Street, and an adjoining building on James Street. Here’s a look at how they were arranged:

“The entrance to the counting room is on State street, to the editorial rooms, the president’s offices and the composing rooms at No. 7 James street; to the office of the weekly edition of the Express, No. 9 James and the mailing and press rooms, No. 5 James.

The business offices occupy the main floor. No paper in the state has a better arranged and more pleasantly fitting up counting room. The large force of clerks requires considerable room and they have it. Every convenience is afforded for transacting business with the public expeditiously. The general manager’s room adjoining, which is furnished with good taste and affords pleasant accommodations for those who have business to transact with the head of the business department, communicates directly with the president’s offices above. The rear of the ground floor is occupied by the mailing and city carriers’ department, No. 5 James street.

The president’s suite of chambers occupy [sic] the second and third floors. They are suitably furnished and decorated and have ready communication with all parts of the building. By means of speaking tubes the president is able to communicate ith the head of each department at his desk.

On the fourth floor is the library, including tiers of racks in which are kept bound volumes of the files of Albany and New York papers for the exclusive use of the establishment, and the proof readers’ department. The bulletin department is on the fourth floor.

The editorial room of the Weekly Express is at No. 9 James street. In the rear are the press and stereotyping rooms of the establishment. On the floors above are the editorial and the composing rooms.”

The Morning Express would be sold off and merged with the Press and Knickerbocker in 1899, but the Evening Journal would continue, eventually moving to its extremely impressive new building on the south end of the Delaware and Hudson Railroad headquarters building.

While they remained at their offices on State, the newspapers printed large headlines and posted them with the news of the day:

“The large, colored headlines, which appear twice a day on the bulletin boards of the Journal and the Express at the State street entrance, which are eagerly scanned by hundreds of people, who, in the hurry of business hours, have time only to catch bare announcements of important events, are an important and indispensible feature of the daily routine. They have given the local public many ‘beats’ of notable interest. The first announcement of the execution of ‘Bat’ Shea reached not only the Albany public but the papers through the state from the bulletin posted in front of the Journal office, notwithstanding the fact that the correspondents of two great news associations sent out full reports directly from the prison.”

Wire Service, Mergenthaler Typesetters and a Lightning Press

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The Hoe Cylinder Bed Lightning Press

The Hoe Cylinder Bed Lightning Press

The Albany Morning Press lived through a time of a revolution in newspaper production, and quickly took advantage of the changing technologies, using the newly invented wire services, the Mergenthaler linotype typesetter, and Hoe’s latest presses, not to mention vacuum tubes for moving paper around the office.

The telegraph was fairly new to Albany at the time the Albany Morning Express started production in 1847 – the first wire to the west connected to Utica on Jan. 31, 1846. The Associated Press began life later that year as the State Associated Press, with a main office in Albany, where news from Albany and New York was wired to Utica and sent out from that city by express on printed slips. The first daily reports were sent to newspapers on Jan. 1, 1847, and the Express was one of the original subscribers; its editor Jacob C. Cuyler was one of the incorporators.

The first edition was published from the second floor of the building one building south of the southwest corner of Beaver and Green streets, which then was the publishing district. (Be shocked to learn that the space is currently a parking lot.)

“With a great deal of warrantable pride the announcement was made that the paper was printed ‘on a first rate Napier press.’ This was the name of the first generally recognized improved printing press. Up to 1835 there was in general use only hand presses, and the Napier was an innovation which was followed by what was known as the Hoe lightning press patented July 14, 1847. So it will be seen that the Express and rapid printing came into the world at about the same time.”

The Napier press was the first to use grippers to pull the sheets around the cylinder and to deliver them after the impression. Hoe & Co. made the first flat bed and cylinder press in the United States. This was cutting edge technology, but it isn’t surprising, as Albany was really a major publishing center – it is said that Van Benthuysen’s printing operation on Columbia Street used the first steam-driven press in the country.

The Express’s coverage of its 50th anniversary included an in-depth view of its typesetting capabilities in 1897, which are fascinating to those of us who once set type for a living:

“Advertisements received at the counting-room desk and all editorial and news ‘copy’ are placed in cylindrical leather pouches and shot directly to the compositing rooms through tubes connecting with all departments and converging at the foreman’s desk.

The ‘take’ is given out to the operator, who, seated at the keyboard to the type-setting machine, produces newly cast lines of type which are deposited by the machine in the order which they are set and are removed in columns to the press upon which the proof sheet is printed. When corrected the type is placed on large stone beds where by means of wedges called quoins it is made up into pages ready to be lowered to the press rooms. The composition of 10,000 ems for ten hours’ of type-setting by hand is considered a good day’s work. There is the possibility of largely exceeding that by adept and rapid compositors, perhaps, most of whom could do better in spurts. But the average hand composition will not exceed that measure. Each of the five Mergenthaler type-setting machines will turn out more than five thousand ems an hour or between thirty and forty thousand in an ordinary day’s work, such as is required on the Express; that is during the hours beginning at 6:45 p.m. and ending at 2:45 or 3 a.m., with an intermission for lunch.

Every day after the type is used it is thrown into the melting pots and recast for the following day, replenishing the old with new metal as often as necessary. So that both the Journal and the Express are printed from new type every day. The casting of each type is all done when the operator presses down the key corresponding to the letter. The machine occupies comparatively little space, makes very little muss and does not give out the heat and particles of flying dust customary in foundries for casting metal. In fact the several small boxes in the cases used in hand composition, always gathered dust from the room and dirt from the distribution of type which filled the air with more dirt than comes from these machines.

The linotype was not only five times speedier than setting type letter by letter, but casting new characters for every single edition meant that the paper looked clean and free of broken type.

More on the Albany Morning Express

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Continuing the story of the Albany Morning Express, once the city’s premiere newspaper, in circulation, at least. In marking its 50th anniversary in 1897, the paper recounted some interesting points of its own history.

After its founding in 1847 by Alfred Stone and Edward Henly, the paper ran for five years with “varying success” before passing into the hands of Carlton Edwards in 1852. In 1856, the paper was suspended briefly, and then revived by Henry Stone, the brother of Alfred, along with Edward Henly.

Alfred Stone, in the meantime, hadn’t given up the business. He published the Albany Evening Times, along with David M. Barnes and Edward Boyd, with a gent by the name of “Governor” R.M. Griffin serving as editor-in-chief. Stone left the Times and bought the State Register. On Jan. 31, 1853, Henly and Jacob Cuyler issued the first Evening Transcript, from the Hoy building on Green Street. That paper was sold to men named Ells and Rooker; Rooker was later owner of the Press and Knickerbocker. Cuyler went to work on the Statesman, until the paper and its office were bought by Henry and Alfred Stone and Edward Henly, to revive the Express.

“On the morning of May 4, 1857, the Express, under the new management, was issued. Mr. Jacob C. Cuyler, installed as its editor. Fresh, vigorous editorials and columns teeming with news were the characteristics of the re-invigorated newspaper. It was then that the road which has led this paper on to success was taken. Since then the Express has gained in popularity and strength and has proven one of the indispensable institutions of Albany and vicinity…Under the able and enlivening pen of the late Mr. Cuyler, who, strangely enough, at the time when the fruit of his early efforts is bearing the ripening influences of a half century of honest cultivation, has passed away to a home of rest, the Express became a sturdy exponent of social and political purity and of unremitting enterprise.”

At that time, the Express was still a four-page, six-column paper, with a subscription list of 1600, at $4 a year. It went through a procession of owners and business managers, including George W. Hogoboom, Charles Emory Smith (later a minister to Russia), Addison Keyes, L.Z. Remington, N.D. Wendell, Walter F. Hurcomb, and S.N.D. North. The paper was published from the Express building at Green and Beaver streets until 1889. On Jan. 1 of that year, the plant and business “passed into the possession of Mr. William Barnes, jr., who at once organized the Albany Morning Express company, of which he was elected the president. When Mr. Barnes secured control of the Evening Journal and reorganized the business, the Morning Express was moved into the building Nos. 59 and 61 State street. There the two daily papers, the Evening Journal and the Morning Express are now published.”

The Express had been started with the goal of being impartial and independent, but along the way it had become political, even being named as the official state newspaper, a lucrative position.

“The policy of the paper has been for years that of uncompromising loyalty to the Republican party. In the election of 1857 its course was that of an independent paper, giving the several state tickets equal prominence at the head of its columns on the morning of election … The election of Gov. Morgan over Amasa J. Parker in the fall of 1858 was viewed in the light of a great Republican victory by the Express and gave to the editors of that paper the highest satisfaction … During the dark days of the rebellion the Express lifted its voice in no uncertain terms for the maintenance of the Union and the crushing out of secession. In the campaign of 1860 it supported the candidacy of Abraham Lincoln and ever afterwards has exerted its influence in behalf of good government and the supremacy of the nation on land and sea. It supported Grant in both campaigns in which he was a candidate. In 1876 it espoused the presidential aspirations of Roscoe Conkling but when the Republican convention had named Hayes and Wheeler the nominees of the party, the Express gave the party ticket that loyal support to which it was entitled from an avowed Republican paper.”

Under Barnes, it remained staunchly Republican, as that term was understood back then.  In those days, impartiality and balance weren’t necessarily part of a newspaper’s objectives. In 1889, it was in the hands of Albany Academy and Harvard College graduate William Barnes, Jr., son of a prominent lawyer, grandson of Thurlow Weed. The papers became his political pulpit, and he became chairman of the Republican State Committee for several years – he was a model political boss of the times.

Despite all this celebration in 1897, the Express would only last under that name until 1899, when it was sold off to the Press and Knickerbocker.



The Albany Morning Express

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Albany Morning Express Flag 1897

Since we stumbled onto the topic of the Albany Morning Express and its various successors in interest, all the way down to the lamented Knickerbocker News, we thought we’d dig a little further into what was once Albany’s largest circulation daily. On May 4, 1897, the Express gave a bit of its own history on the occasion of its 51st anniversary [their math, not mine]. “Morning Express To-Day Begins its Second Half-Century of Existence,” it declared, along with promising a brief summary of its history, sketches and pictures of the men who conducted it in the past, a glance at present conditions, and “Retrospective Remarks by the Nestor of Albany’s Newspapermen.”

“Venerable in years, young in vigor and strength, the Express is as ready to battle for right and for freedom as when a half century ago the sword was drawn from the scabbard and the youthful champion entered the lists under the least favorable of circumstances. Successes and reverses have alternately swept across its course and many of the vicissitudes of life have arisen to try the mettle and nerve of this persistent and faithful emissary of the people. But its progress has been steady and unwavering. The Express has been heartily supported by the public and has endeavored to deserve it.”

Gotta love 19th century commercial prose. So how did it get started?

“Two compositors who had worked with such men as Thurlow Weed conceived the plan of starting an independent morning newspaper. They were Alfred Stone and Edward Henly, both of whom probably possessed more practical knowledge and pluck than financial means, with which to begin their enterprise. The third pioneer publisher who subsequently took a conspicuous place as one of the founders of the Express was Mr. Henry D. Stone, also a compositor. There were then published in the city of Albany the Daily Advertiser, founded in 1815, the Argus first published as a daily in 1825, the Evening Journal founded in 1830, and the Atlas projected in 1841.

Mr. Henry D. Stone for a time, about 1834, conducted the Albany Microscope, a Saturday publication which turned its magnifying rays on the follies and foibles of local characters. He afterward conducted a job printing office in which Mr. John D. Parsons, subsequently a member of the Weed, Parsons & Co., was an apprentice.”

Stone and Henly started the American Citizen in 1842 as a morning daily supporting Henry Clay, “which first of all papers bore his name at the head of his columns as the presidential possibility of the ensuing campaign.” After Clay was defeated in the 1844 election, the Citizen, which had been printed from the Cooper building on the southeast corner of State and Green streets, was suspended. They started the Herald in 1845, but it didn’t last long.

On May 4, 1847, Henry Stone’s brother Alfred Stone and Edward Henly (previously of the Statesman) issued the first copy of the Morning Express “from an office on the second floor of the building then standing next south of the building which occupied the southwest corner of Beaver and Green streets.” It was four pages, six columns to the page, a penny a copy, $4 for the year. “It was to be essentially a local paper and the heading bore an engraving of the coat of arms of the city.”

The prospectus they published in the paper that morning said,

“Albany is a large city and it is growing rapidly Its permanent population cannot be less than 45,000 souls. Including the floating and transient population probably not less than 50,000 souls at any time during the period of navigation. It is the great focus of the traveling world, and the center of commercial, manufacturing, political and other interests, which render it one of the most thriving and at the same time one of the most important cities in the Union. These create wants which it is necessary to meet, and one of these present wants is conceived to be a thoroughly impartial and independent daily newspaper, devoted to the good and welfare of the city and prompt in furnishing the readers with a clear and fair transcript from day to day of all the news and other matters of moment and interest. For this and other reasons we are induced to take this step.”

They made a direct appeal to the city’s advertisers as well:

“Advertising pays well. Fortunes have been made by it. Fortunes are yet to be made by it. Now let it be known by these presents, we are prepared to attend the favors of all advertising patrons and trust they will come forward liberally and fill up our advertising columns. We are determined to deserve, and unfalteringly believe we shall obtain, a large circulation for this paper. Advertisers will therefore recognize their own interests by attending to ours in this matter.”

The first issue had 13 columns of advertising, set in nonpareil, “the smallest news type then in general use . . . Small cuts, about the depth of two lines and occupying a small fraction of the width of the column, were generally used to symbolize the nature of the business advertised.” (Cuts are images.) More on those ads, and the Express, to come.

New Use for Old Papers

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Old Papers Morning Express 1892From the Albany Morning Express of Jan. 23, 1892, a house ad for old papers:

Old Papers

(All Sizes)

Suitable for Shelves,

Putting Under Carpets,

Packing Furniture, Etc.

10 Cents per Hundred, At this office.

Probably used for insulation in a lot of old Albany homes, too.