Columbia Spy (Columbia, PA)



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The Columbia Spy and Literary Register was founded by John Lovell Boswell (1810-1854). It has a long and complicated history, and this summary, as well as further details listing editors and publishers, is offered after much frustration and with apologies for any errors that might appear be found. (No complete run of the periodical appears to exist, and without key copies to check directly, some speculation has been necessary. References are often unsatisfactory in regard to details, and often somewhat contradictory.) Boswell emigrated from Connecticut in 1830, and purchased the 18-month old Columbia Courier and Marietta Advertiser, reforming it into the new publication. The “Spy” portion of the name is thought to be a reference to the strong anti-slavery tendencies of Coumbia, PA, which was long thought to be a station on the so-called “underground railroad,” by which escaped slaves were led to freedom in Northern states. The first issue of the Columbia Spy and Literary Register appeared on June 17, 1830 (not June 3, 1830 as indicated by Spannuth and Mabbott, and repeated by H&C.) It changed hands many times over the years, with the weekly edition appearing at least as late as December 28, 1889. A daily version began on June 22, 1868, with the weekly edition slowly dying out. The daily version was expanded to six pages in May 1905, and in this form ran until 1920, when it was merged with the Columbia News. (There may have been an earlier newspaper that was also called the Colubmia Spy, published in Columbia, PA in 1816, but it does not appear to be connected to the later publication.)

 


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Description:

Full Title: The Columbia Spy and Literary Register (June 17, 1830 - June 16, 1831); The Columbia Spy and Lancaster and York Record (June 23, 1831-1837); Columbia Spy (1837-April 1840); Columbia Spy and Lancaster and York County Democrat (May 2, 1840 - Nov. 23, 1843); Columbia Spy (Nov. 30, 1843 - April ??, 1844); The Columbia Spy and Lancaster and York Record (April ??, 1844-1848); The Columbia Spy and Literary Register (1848-June 15, 1850); Columbia Spy (June 22, 1850-1889)

Issued: Weekly (initially on Thursdays, but beginning in 1833 on Saturdays) vols. I-LXXII (June 3, 1830 - 1889)

Editor(s): John Lovell Boswell (June 1830 - March 1836); Thomas E. Cochran (May 24, 1834 - March 1836); Preston Billings Elder (March 1836 - January 6, 1840, when he died suddenly, interrupting the publication of newspaper; Theodore D. Cochran (January 1840); Major James Patton (May 2, 1840 - Nov. 25, 1843); E. Maxson (1842- Nov. 25, 1843); Edman W. Stahle (1843); Eli Bowen (Dec. 2, 1843 - Dec. 2, 1844); Jacob L. Gossler (Dec. 2, 1844-1845); Chas. J. Barnitz (1844-June 1847); Charrick Westbrook (1847-1848); William H. Spangler (1848); George W. Schroyer (1848-1849); Eshelman, Kammerer & Gochenauer (1849-1850); J. G. L. Brown (1850-1853); Stephen Greene (April 1853- at least March 22, 1856); Coleman J. Bull (by May 3, 1856- March 28, 1857); Samuel Wright (April 4, 1857-1863); Andrew M. Rambo (August 15, 1863 - August 28, 1869); no editor is listed for September 4, 1869, perhaps because the issue was transitional; Major Joseph W. Yocum (September 11, 1869 - January 5, 1918); Captain C. E. Lewis and Harry Clepper (1918-1920) (In cases where an editor is not specifically listed, the publisher is presumed to be the editor.)

Publisher(s): John L. Boswell (1830-through at least June 1835); Captain Ercurius Beatty (March 1836-September 1837); E. Beatty & Co. (????-May 1840); Major James Patton (May 2, 1840-April 1843); James Patton and W. S. Ward (???); Eli Bowen and Jacob L. Gossler (Nov. 30, 1843 - Dec. 2, 1844) (an announcement of the dissolution of their partnership appears in the issue of December 7, 1844); Jacob L. Gossler & Co. (Dec. 7, 1844 - 1845); Gossler & Barnitz (1844-1845); Chas. J. Barnitz (1845-June 1847); Westbrook and Spangler (1848); Eshelman, Kammerer & Gochenauer (1849-1850); J. G. L. Brown (1850-1853); Brown & Greene (1853 - at least March 22, 1856); Coleman J. Bull (by May 3, 1856 - March 28, 1857); Samuel Wright (April 4, 1857-1863) Andrew M. Rambo. (1863 - August 28, 1868); Major Joseph W. Yocum (September 11, 1869 - January 5, 1918); Captain C. E. Lewis and Harry Clepper (1918-1920)

Location: Columbia, PA

 


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newspaper format, 4 pages printed as a single, folded sheet. On July 6, 1833, the size of each page became 20 x 30 inches.

 


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Copies of Columbia Spy are scarce, particularly for the early issues containing Poe material. Most of the Poe-related issues may be found in the Koester Collection at the HRCL, University of Texas at Austin.

 


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  • Ellis, Franklin and Samuel Evans, History of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia: Everts & Peck, 1883 (p. 571).
  • Goodell, Robert H., “John L. Boswell and ‘The Columbia Spy’,” Journal of the Lancaster County Historical Society, vol. 47, no. 2, April-June, 1943, pp. 36-43
  • Hause, Nathan E., “Annotated Catalogue of Newspaper Files in the Pennsylvania State Library,” Report of the State Librarian of Pennsylvania, for the Year Ending December 1, 1900, Harrisburg, PA: Wm. Stanley Ray, State Printer of Pennsylvania, 1901, pp. 195-308 (pp. 254-255 for information on the Spy)
  • Heartman, Charles F. and James R. Canny, A Bibliography of First Printings of the Writings of Edgar Allan Poe, Hattiesburg, Mississippi: The Book Farm, 1943, pp. 184-197.
  • Jordan, John W., Encyclopedia of Pennsylvania Biography, New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Co., 1914. (includes article on Stephen Greene, vol. I, pp. 226-227)
  • Spannuth, Jacob E. and T. O. Mabbott, Doings of Gotham, Pottsville, PA: Jacob E. Spannuth, 1929. (Collects Poe’s contributions to the Columbia Spy.)

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[S:0 - JAS] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Editions - Columbia Spy (Columbia, PA)