Friday Flashback #183

Most Westporters no longer read physical newspapers.

We get our news online. If we’ve got an actual dead-tree copy of the New York TimesWall Street Journal or Westport News, chances are we only glance at it.

There were fewer news sources 191 years ago. And newspapers looked a lot different.

Alert “06880” reader Seth Schachter found this copy of the May 13, 1829 edition of the Saugatuck Journal. Our ancestors must have had great eyesight.

The news was hard to decipher. The ads were more prominent.

They included seasoned lumber for sale by 27-year-old Horace Staples: 1,400 pieces of spruce plank, 500 pieces of white pine plank, and 300 of yellow pine plank.

There were other still-famous names, like Charles Jesup. I’m not sure what exactly he sold — would you buy “1 bale Bed Tick”? — but whatever it was, his dry goods and groceries were offered to “his friends at wholesale or retail, much lower than he has ever sold them.”

There was this sobering ad too.

Connecticut blocked the importation of slaves in 1774, and began a gradual emancipation of slaves in 1784. But slavery was not finally abolished until 1848 — nearly 2 decades after this edition of the Saugatuck Journal went to press, offering a penny reward for the return of a 12-year-old boy.

21 responses to “Friday Flashback #183

  1. “Bed-Tick” or bed-ticking, is, I think, what was stuffed inside a mattress cover; what made the sleeping “bag” comfy.

  2. Sally Kellogg

    Mattress Ticking—tough striped cotton used to cover mattresses & pillows.

  3. There’s an old saying that you never want to make your guest beds too comfortable. And that’s where the bed ticks enter the picture. To support local business, don’t buy those cheap, imported bed ticks from Amazon; kick it old school with authentic blood suckers from the hood. Your in-laws will be out the door in no time at all.

  4. Peter Barlow

    That front page is incredibly dense with type. Hard to realize that every letter of every word was a separate piece of type that had to be set by hand for printing.
    But I’m surprised at your opening statement, “Most Westporters no longer read physical newspapers.” Is that true? Do you no longer HAVE newspapers?

    • The Westport News still publishes on Fridays. It’s part of the Hearst Connecticut chain. It’s a free paper, mailed to people (mine usually arrives Saturday; sometimes Monday). As far as I know, it is not sold anywhere in Westport. Many newcomers have no idea it exists. It does have a pretty solid online presence (

      • Dermot Meuchner

        It is sold at the convenience store next to Donuts An. I used to receive it in the mail but no longer.

      • It’s sold a Calise’s market….BTW, according to the editor, the Westport News DOES NOT KEEP BACK ISSUES. So, should one want to obtain a back issue, it is not on line, it is not in hard card copy and it’s not even on micro fishe. Astounding!

  5. Jack ( BORING) Backiel

    I never had Facebook, or Twitter, or Instagram or anything else. I never used Amazon and I’ve never ordered anything on-line, not even a Starbucks! I only subscribe to 06880. By the way, I’m also VERY, VERY boring!

  6. John Kelley

    I found on the internet a piece by Dan Woog pointing out Henry Platt’s house as a stop on the “underground railroad.” Maybe Platt had a change of heart regarding slavery.

    • Jonathan McClure

      Yes, from an article by Dan in the Westport New back on September 7, 2014!

  7. John Kelley

    I blew the page up on my computer. Half of then front page are devoted to a biography of the newly elected president–Andrew Jackson (I would guess most people in Saugatuck voted for John Quincy Adams) and a diatribe against alcohol. /Ina quick skimming, there is an article about teaching styles, salt water, the dangers of self medication, and even a poem. I don’t know if the size of type was small, and it is interesting they used 6 columns whereas modern newspapers long used eight before reverting to six in the 1980s. The reason it may seem hard to read is bad use of spacing, such as between the columns. The printing presses of the time probably didn’t support spacing that modern graphic design uses.

  8. Joyce Barnhart

    Weren’t indentured servants free people who were essentially contracted for a period of time for an agreed upon sum of money? They were not slaves. But a 12 year old child? His parent(s) must have essentially sold him. It seems unlikely he would have indentured himself. There’s a whole story behind that reward ad, probably a very sad one.

  9. Bob Weingarten

    For the last few years I’ve been trying to prove that a house on Prospect was part of the underground railroad with the station master of Capt. Charles Wakeman. I’ve written an article about this in the Greens Farms Living magazine but I still cannot confirm that this house was used for the underground railroad. If anyone reading this has any information that I can use, I would appreciate a comment on this subject.

    • Seth Schachter

      Bob – if you feel this paper might provide any clues for your research, happy to share it with you. Just let me know– Seth

    • Seth Schachter

      Bob, Happy to have you take a closer look at this newspaper if you feel it might help with your research. Just let me know– Best, Seth

  10. Bob Weingarten

    Seth. I’ve scanned copies of newspaper, many many papers in the 1880 time-frame, but found nothing except information on how Capt. Charles Wakeman died. Thought that a read of this posting may have any information on him, I left my comment. Thanks for the offer.

  11. Steve Crowley

    Great article Dan , i just saw your article on your fund raiser, keep an eye out 💰💵. Best Steve

    Sent from my iPhone