York, Pa., newspaper’s founding date remains a mystery
I was working on a chronology for Mary Alliene Hamilton’s biography of longtime newspaper owner J.W. Gitt when I dealt with an inconsistency for the 100th time.
Gitt consistently dated his Gazette and Daily to 1795. I’ve never been able to discover a source for this. The best I’ve ever been able to do is just state when the first surviving Gazette was published. That was No. 14, dated May 20.
Counting backwards, that would place the first publication in early 1796, assuming weekly publication. But short of additional evidence coming forward, who knows if the German-language newspaper consistently published weekly? (Anyone out there have additional evidence?)
The wonderful fact is the York Daily Record is one of America’s oldest newspapers — in the top 15 last time I checked.
So, you can see how I dealt with it below, as well as other key years in the Gazette and York Daily Record/Sunday News’ history:
1795 — J.W. Gitt consistently points to his newspaper’s founding in 1795. The earliest existing copy of Solomon Meyer’s weekly German-language Gazette is dated May 20, 1796, and numbered “14.”
1815 — After several years without publication of a newspaper called The Gazette in York, William C. Harris issues an English-language Gazette. The Gazette resumes a weekly German edition in 1821, published until 1891.
1836 — David Small begins 49-year tenure as Gazette owner. The politically active Small also serves terms as York postmaster, county director of the poor and York’s chief burgess. As burgess, he is integral in the decision to surrender York during the Confederate occupation in the days before the Battle of Gettysburg.
1887 — Prominent businessman Adam Geesey converts The Gazette to daily publication, the third York-area newspaper to publish daily.
1899 — The Gazette first uses photographs, then in fledgling use by newspapers, to cover York County’s 150th anniversary festivities.
1901 — After numerous moves in its first 100 years, The Gazette locates to the 31 E. King St., York, plant that would serve as its home until 1973.
1915 — Allen C. Wiest and law partner J.W. Gitt acquire the foundering Gazette. This begins Gitt’s 55-year reign as Gazette owner. Under Gitt, the newspaper gains a national reputation for its independent, some said leftist, news orientation and editorial positions.
1918 — The Gazette purchases The Daily, York’s first daily newspaper, and the York Legal Record. The Gazette is renamed The Gazette and Daily.
1943 — Because of wartime newsprint shortages, The Gazette and Daily changes to a tabloid format.
1948 — Gitt draws criticism for his left-of-center leanings after backing Henry Wallace, Progressive Party candidate for U.S. president. The York newspaper is the only commercial daily in the United States to back Wallace.
1964 — Gitt refuses advertisements for presidential candidate Barry Goldwater, saying the Republican is as harmful as tobacco and liquor. Gitt has long rejected ads for those products.
1970 — Amid labor problems, the newspaper shuts down. Gitt sells assets to a local group headed by attorney Harold N. Fitzkee Jr. Gitt retires the Gazette and Daily name. The newspaper soon reopens with a York Daily Record nameplate. The name is said to come from The Daily and the York Legal Record, purchased in 1918.
1973 — The Daily Record is sold to Jimmy D. Scoggins, a veteran newspaperman. Scoggins moves the paper from York’s downtown building to a new plant in Springettsbury Township and changes to its current “broadsheet” format. The downtown building is later razed to provide a parking lot.
1978 — Buckner News Alliance, purchases the newspaper from Scoggins and modernizes the newspaper’s appearance and operations.
1988 — MediaNews Group, owner of The York Dispatch, purchases the York Sunday News.
1989 — The Daily Record and The York Dispatch announce they will seek government approval of a joint operating agreement, a partial merger.
1990 — The U.S. Justice Department approves the JOA, creating theYork Newspaper Co. to manage merged production, circulation and advertising departments. The Daily Record and Dispatch newsrooms are not part of the merger and remain under separate ownership.
2004 — Buckner News Alliance sells the York Daily Record to MediaNews Group. MediaNews Group continues to own the York Sunday News, and the newspaper publishes seven mornings a week.
This is the earliest known extant copy of the German-language Die York Gazette. The York Daily Record points to this newspaper as its forerunner.