Early Newspapers of Northampton County

Early newspapers of Northampton County are on display at the Sigal Museum, 342 Northampton St., Easton.

The earliest newspapers in Pennsylvania were published in Philadelphia as early as the end of the 17th century. There is no record of a newspaper in Northampton County until the end of the 18th century. At that time, the population of the county was largely German; therefore early newspapers were published in German or, occasionally, in both German and English.
american eagle newspaper

View full sizeExpress-Times PhotoAn edition of The American Eagle from Aug. 22, 1799.

It was the first English language newspaper in Northampton County.

Of the many papers founded in the county, many lasted only a few months. Several lasted a few issues, and one survived for only one day. Early subscribers often paid for their paper with flour, wheat or whiskey.

In September 1793, Jacob Weygandt founded the NEUER UNPARTHEYISCHER EASTONER UND NORTHAMPTON KUNDECH (New Nonpartisan Easton Messenger and Northampton Intelligencer). He was both publisher and editor, and he worked to keep the paper nonpartisan.

Shortly thereafter, Weygandt and Sons began publication of the EASTON GERMAN PATRIOT AND COUNTRYMEN’S WEEKLY to express Weygandt’s political views. An original copy of that paper from 1804 shows a newspaper of 12 inches-by-20 inches, with 12 columns.

The first English newspaper in Northampton County was the AMERICAN EAGLE published weekly by Samuel Longcope from May 10, 1799, to 1805. The subscription price: $2 a year. It was in the Eagle that county residents first learned of the death of George Washington. In an early issue, Longcope advocated support for James Ross, of Pittsburgh, for Pennsylvania governor. His candidate lost the election. Longcope’s strong Federalist principles were in direct contrast to the German-speaking  Democrats in the county and led to the demise of the Eagle in 1805.
Jacob Christian Hutter began another German newspaper, DER NORTHAMPTON CORRESPONDANT, in 1806. It would become the leading paper in Northampton County from 1806 to 1860.

Hutter prospered until he sold his paper to the publisher of the ARGUS in 1875.
The PEOPLES INSTRUCTOR was founded about 1812. It was the first bilingual paper in the county with side-by-side articles in German and English. That was not a popular format and the paper soon closed.

easton sentinel newspaper

View full sizeExpress-Times Photo | BILL ADAMSA copy of The Easton Sentinel, from June 30, 1820.

That same year, Thomas J. Rogers founded THE NORTHAMPTON FARMER. When he sold the paper in 1818, the name was changed to THE SPIRIT OF PENNSYLVANIA.  In 1817, Col. C.J. Hutter and Son founded theEASTON SENTINEL in support of “Democratic principles.”

THE WORLD ARGUS was successful from 1826 to 1844 under the leadership of editors Jacob Weygandt Jr. and Samuel Innes. In 1844, Col. William H. Hutter purchased this paper and changed the name to theDEMOCRAT AND ARGUS. Then later, with yet another new name, THE EASTON ARGUS became a 14-page weekly. It was a “penny paper” costing 1 cent an issue or $2 a year.

In 1855 the EASTON DAILY EXPRESS became the first daily printed north of Philadelphia. William Davis and William Eichman were the publishers. It was 11-inches-by-14 inches, with four pages of four columns, selling for 2 cents a copy or $4 a year.

It still publishes today, 156 years later at 30 N. Fourth St., as THE EXPRESS-TIMES.

Written By Jim Deegan

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