Cook column: Salisbury was a busy place in 1838
Dear Folks,” Lexington artist Bob Timberlake wrote to the Post. “Since I was born in Salisbury and have lots of friends over there I thought you-all might enjoy having these old newspapers. Some interesting articles about ancestors of those still there. Thanks for all you-all do. …”
The handwritten note was in a plastic sheath along with two copies of the Western Carolinian published in 1838.
The newspaper served Salisbury decades before the Salisbury Post was founded in 1905. The Western Carolinian was here before miners discovered a large vein of gold and named Gold Hill. Before schoolmaster Peter Ney died amid whispers that he was really Napoleon’s marshal. Before children first sat on wooden benches for lessons at Setzer School.
A long time ago.
Back when a four-page newspaper dense with print and void of photos was state-of-the-art. Headline type was little bigger or bolder than that of the stories.
But some stand out anyway.
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“Beware of a Swindler,” says the headline above an item in the Sept. 20, 1838, edition. Libel obviously was not a big concern to the Carolinian’s editors and proprietors, B. Austin and C.F. Fisher. The item goes on:
“ABSCONDED, a few days since, a fellow who called himself by the name of JOHN DAVIS, and has been keeping a school for the last three months in Andrew Holshouser’s school house.”The said Davis clerked for me at a shooting match, on the 24th inst., and as is customary, collected the money for the shoots to the amount of twenty dollars, with which he absconded after night.”
A description of the man says he had “a remarkable bad cough” and was known to be “notoriously bad as a tattler and disturber of Society.”
(They must have figured that out after he disappeared with the $20.)
“This advertisement is put forth merely to warn the public to be on the look out for a rascal, and that others may not be swindled as I have been.”
The name Elias Lee appears below, with a postscript. “Editors in the Western part of the State will do well to warn the public of this scoundrel.”
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Timberlake is right; there are some familiar surnames in the Carolinian. Holshouser has already been mentioned. An ad for sculpturing and stone-cutting spells the name “Houldshouser.”
Horace Beard, a tailor, advertised “New Fashions for Spring & Summer.”
John Beard was one of the paper’s owners.
William Barringer advertised 365 acres from the estate of John Furr to be sold.
“TO RENT,” says another item. “The House and Lott situated on Main street, between the residence of Mr. Crawford and Mr. Fisher, will be rented until the 1st of January next.”
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Court was the subject of one of the few local news items in the paper:
“The Superior Court of Rowan County is in session during the present week, His Honor Judge Settle presiding. The docket is a small one, and no trials, as we can learn, of
much importance. Judge Settle is a business judge and gets along with great smoothness and despatch, he will leave nothing undone that can be finished before he adjourns.”
They ó we ó don’t write court stories like that anymore.
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The paid notices yield the most information about what was going on in Salisbury in 1838.
Joseph Hall notified the public that he wanted to charter a bridge over the South Yadkin River.
Charles Fisher announced he would seek incorporation of Yadkin Manufacturing Co.
Another notice announced an application for “an act to incorporate the Trustees of the Salisbury Female Academy” ó the school that operated in the Wren House.
All that was in just one issue, ample reason to make a reader want the next one. You can tell the newspaper was counting its pennies. A subscription to the weekly Carolinian cost $2 a year, and “letters addressed to the Editors must in all cases be post paid.”
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Elizabeth Cook is editor of the Salisbury Post.