York Town Square

Part of the USAToday Network

York, Pa.’s Solomon Meyer ‘forsook the publishing business and betook himself elsewhere’

Taken from microfilm, this is the first edition of The Pennsylvania Gazette published in York Town – York County’s first newspaper. The weekly newspaper published from December 1777 to June 1778 and was circulated to information-hungry readers throughout the 13 states. In June 1778, the press was packed up and moved back east when the British evacuated Philadelphia. After the press left York Town, nine years passed before another newspaper was printed in the county. Bartgis and Roberts began publishing The Pennsylvania Chronicle and York Weekly Advertising in 1787. Solomon Meyer began publishing Die York Gazette in 1796 (see front page below), the first German-language newspaper in York and the first time two newspapers were published at the same time.  Background posts: Newspaper’s founding date hard to pin down and Journalism goes back to the future.

A request from a local student for information on the York Daily Record/Sunday News and its predecessors reminds me of favorite quotes attached to newspaper patriarch Solomon Meyer.
Meyer, started Die York Gazette in 1796, a German-language newspaper that the Daily Record lists as its earliest ancestor.
Meyer had a weakness that undermined many great men – a love for power and politics. His anti-Federalist views gained him a military patronage post… .

This prompted a quote from an opposing newspaper:
“That this fellow has as little knowledge of military affairs as a jackass of dancing, must have been well known to our Patriot Governor.”
And then his cutting editorial perspective and political shenanigans brought his paper into such disrepute that researcher Walter Klinefelter wrote (in one of my all-time favorite quotes) “that he eventually forsook the publishing business and betook himself elsewhere.”
And I wrote in 1996: “Meyer betook himself elsewhere in a hurry.”
He reportedly left a legacy of collected, but unreported militia fines.
“There is no doubt that he has collected a goodly sum,” his opposition reported, “and when paid into the treasury, will relieve us from taxes.”
Back to that student’s queries. Here are my replies to his questions about the York Daily Record/Sunday News:

1. When did the YDR start? Earliest existing issue is dated: 1796.
2. What was its original name? Die York Gazette (German language newspaper).
3. Who started it? Solomon Meyer, who lived for a time in Washington Township, York County, and also the Ephrata Cloister in Lancaster County where he learned printing.
4. What was his/her reason behind starting it? He was an ardent anti-Federalist – sort of like a Democrat today – and he brought his voice to counterbalance Federalist (Republican) voices in the press.
5. Where was it first located? On York’s West Market Street between David Candler’s store and the German Reformed Church.
6. How many employees did it have when it started? That’s difficult to say, but he might have been a solo act in his newspaper’s early days.
7. How often did it print? Weekly.
8. How much did it cost to buy? 10 shillings a year.
9. How was it delivered? Most probably would have been sold at stores and at his newspaper office. Some would have been mailed.
10. Where was it circulated? Mostly in York – but wherever mail would reach.
11. What was the original printing process? It probably would have been done on a wooden press, such as the replica exhibited today at the York County Heritage Trust’s Agricultural and Industrial Museum today.
12. How many pages/sections was it when it started? Four pages.
1. Where is it located now? The York Daily Record/Sunday News is located at 1891 Loucks Road, York.
2. How many papers are printed daily? 37,323 daily and 61,665 on Sundays.
3. How many pages/sections are there now? Four sections on weekdays, eight or more on Sundays.
4. How much does 1 paper cost now? 75 cents
5. How is it delivered (including Internet)? Carrier, mail, single copy at stores and vending machines and, electronically, on the Web.
6. Where does it circulate? Mostly in York and Adams counties – but as far as the mail reaches.
7. How many employees does it have overall? About 50 in the newsroom.
8. How often is it printed? Daily. Of course, the news site, www.ydr.com, is updated regularly in a 24-hour cycle.
9. What is the current printing process? Off-set
10. What are the different sections called? A or main, local, sports, features.
11. Who is in charge now? Sarah Glines is the publisher. (Updated, 6/1: Sara Glines.)

Source: James McClure’s ‘I saw it in the paper,’ special section of the York Daily Record, 1996.

diegazetteThis is the earliest known edition of Die York Gazette.