Source: The Early Life of Lexington [KY] before the Year 1820, Mary Estelle Delcamp, A Thesis Submitted to the Faculty of Transylvania College in Candidacy for the Degree of Master of Arts June, 1916

The newspaper was undoubtedly one of the chief means of disseminating knowledge among the people as a whole. The dangerous condition of the country caused by hostile bands of Indians, rendered uncertain the arrival of Eastern papers. At the same time the proposed separation of Kentucky from Virginia aroused considerable state pride. These two factors led to the establishment of the first newspaper west of the Allegheny Mountains, the Kentucky Gazette. When the committee appointed by the legislature was unable to get an experienced printer from the East, John Bradford offered his services. The first issue was August 11, 1787. At first there were only 180 subscribers; and the undertaking would have failed, had it not been for the generous support of the merchants of Lexington (Jan. 7, 1797).

The management changed a number of times in the years under consideration. Mr. Bradford took Fielding Bradford into partnership, soon after the paper had been established. But this partnership was dissolved the next year (Jan. 7. 1788). Later on Daniel Bradford assumed the responsibility of editing the paper. At the beginning of the nineteenth century it was turned over to Mr. Smith. He, in 1813, formed a joint editorship with M. Bri____ (Sept. 14, 1813). Fielding Bradford resumed the task of printing the weekly news (Sept. 26, 1814). The managers had difficulty in financing the undertaking, as it was not always easy to obtain payment of subscriptions. In 1788 the managers agreed to take pork, __ _______ shillings, six pence, per hundred weight, if the subscribers would only pay their debts (Jan. 5, 1788). A year later, however, they refused to take produce, but offered a discount of twenty percent, if the money was received in two days. In 1791 the yearly subscription was fifteen shillings (Oct. 17, 1789). Altho the paper seemed to prosper, in 1806 the expense was reported as $916, while the amount received from subscribers was only $535.50 (Dec. 15, 1806). The deficit had to be covered by the advertising. The advertising rates were fifty cents for the first square, and twenty five cents for each additional square (Feb. 14, 1814).

The day of the week on which the paper was published depended on the arrival of the mails; since only thru Eastern newspapers could world news be secured for publication. At times the owners became disgusted, because of the delays and changes thus forced upon them (Mar. 15, 1790). For the first six years it was necessary to get paper from the East, but in 1793, with the establishment of a paper mill by Messra. Craig, Parker and Co. at Georgetown, home-manufactured material could be used (Mar. 30, 1793). The paper was delivered to subscribers in Lexington by a newsboy. He seemed to have the failing of his present day descendant, for the Gazette found it necessary to publish a notice to its subscribers that if they failed to receive a copy, they cold get the same by calling at the office (Apr. 11, 1809). The editor seems at times to have been imposed upon; for he took occasion to make a public statement to the effect that he hereafter refused to pay postage on the mail sent him (Mar. 15, 1806).

The press of the Gazette was also used in printing many pamphlets and books. Among the "Kentucke Almanach" was one of its chief minor publications. The nature of this almanac is well shown from the table of contents of two issues. The publication in 1788 dealt with the following subjects" The rising and setting of sun and moon, the lunations, conjunctions and eclipses; of the rising, setting and southing of noted fixed stars; together with the length of days, judgement of weather, festivals, and other remarkable days. Also court days, with useful observations on, directions for, propagating fruit-trees by grafting in its different branches. Directions for making and refining sugar (Jan. 4, 1788). The issue of 1804 discusses these subjects: "Hints to market women; the blind guides, who strain at a gnat and swallow a camel; an account of Mantacini, the famous charlatan of Paris; an extraordinary story of a friar and a highwayman; a new and valuable styptic, which will stop bleeding even of greatest blood-vessels; recipe for a cough; the Herculean cup; the way to grow rich; advice to the married; the worm of the still: an allegory; the coquette reproved; fatal effects of gambling; anecdote of Gen. Smith; a Yankee retort; list of officers of the Government; list of roads" (Jan. 3, 1804). From these two issues it can be seen that the "Kentucke Almanach" was a combination of religious newspaper, short story magazine, scientific journal, farm paper, Government bulletin, family physician, and humorous sheet. Hence it must have played no small part in directing the thoughts of the people. The price of the almanac was twelve and one-half cents per copy, one dollar per dozen, eight dollars per gross (Jan. 4, 1803).

Among the other publications of the Gazette press were a Kentucky English grammar; The laws of Kentucky since 1798 (Aug. 8, 1798; Feb. 26, 1806). In the same year that the "Laws of Kentucky" was printed, J. and D. Maccoun received the right to print "Webster’s Spelling Book in revised form, "from standing type composed in Philadelphia" (June 21, 1806). Other school books published were: a primer to teach children the sounds of all letters with more ease to the teacher; a Kentucky preceptor, of useful lessons for reading and speaking; and a Geography (July 3, 1801; Feb. 26, 1806).

In 1814 Mr. Sleight, recently of New York, published a miscellaneous paper called The Toilet (Jan. 31, 1814).

Transcribed February 2002 by pb

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