It’s true that the older we are, the quicker time seems to fly by.
Today we’re wrapping up our 175th year of publishing the news of Gibson County — and of course that means that on Saturday, Aug. 13, we’re back to working on our 176th year of community newspaper publishing!
It seems like it was just yesterday that I was out on the square in Princeton, dressed up as a newspaper boy squawking “Extra, Extra, Read all About It!” to commemorate our 150th anniversary.
Of course, it really has been 26 years now. There was still a field on the east side of U.S. 41 where Toyota Motor Manufacturing Indiana announced it would locate.
I wasn’t a mom yet. Now I’m a mom, step-grandma and great-aunt.
We were still using film cameras and notebooks. The Apple computers we used were state-of-the-art at the time, but “clunky” by today’s standards.
Those methods seemed light years ahead of the tools in use when I first came into newspaper work.
And yet my tools of the trade don’t compare to the labor William Hutchens put into the first four-page edition of The Democratic Clarion published on a flatbed press 176 years ago Saturday. His methods explain a lot about why he didn’t have time to do much local reporting!
The first edition of The Democratic Clarion carried a full-page story “Which Is The Fortunate Man?” written by “Miss Annie Middleton” about some young college student named Robert Hunt. It’s hard to say whether Annie Middleton was the author’s true name. Often, writers used pen names back in those days.
For his part, Hutchens wrote in his column: “We are not a dogmatist, but profess to be a student, an inquirer after knowledge and truth, ever ready to yield to its influence and anxious to profit ourself by a practice of its salutary principles.”
He mentions seeing that the canal will be “prosecuted to completion — and the consequences that will follow will be happy, indeed,” projecting “an impetus, life, energy and activity will be given to industry and enterprise, the towns along this great thoroughfare which have drooped during the suspension, will spring up anew...”
His hope for the canal that cut along Francisco didn’t quite turn the area into a metropolis, but I wonder what Hutchens would think of the two interstate highways and the U.S. highway — and the train lines coming through the county.
In the early years of The Clarion’s existence, the 30 states in the U.S. were at war with Mexico. Freshman Whig Illinois congressman Abraham Lincoln spoke out against the war in 1848, believing it unnecessary and unconstitutional.
But in that first issue, Sgt. William Kurtz (future owner of the paper) would call the Princeton Guards out for drill at the Seminary.
That first issue also included the bank note and exchange list for Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Louisiana Pennsylvania and New York. In the pages of that first issue, you could learn the value of old Half Eagle gold coins was $5.25, and Spanish Doubloons were valued at $15. They’re worth quite a bit more now, obviously!
When I go back to our first issue, I always think about what a future journalist will be thinking when they go back to the newspaper archives of our time. Will they look at Downtown Princeton and compare it to the work they read about in this era? Will all the stories about solar energy and wind power and housing and schools seem strange to them 175 years from now?
For our part, we will keep on telling the stories of our community as the first rough draft of history!