Looking Back; news of March, 1856

Published 8:59 am Monday, January 29, 2018

There was lots of news in Danville in March of 1856, according to a copy of the Kentucky Tribune.

Clarence Coleman, post office inspector of Danville, shared his copy of the newspaper that was 72 years old then and was in fair shape, which was proof of the good quality of paper which was used in the ante-bellum days.

The issue was Vol. XII, showing the Tribune was established in 1843.

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The mast head stated the Tribune was “Devoted to News, Politics, Literature, Internal Improvement and General Information.”

The Tribune did not cover neighboring towns, except for personals about visits and who was doing what. The space was given to foreign news, Congress and state newspapers.

The news of the day included:

An obituary  of John Mershon, a veteran of 1812, who died in Wayne County; Kentucky Legislature passed 820 acts at its late session; Abolitionist Garrison expressed a wish to have all the slave states turned out of the Union; and the death of a young man who fell from a tree.

An article showed John Cowan resigned as county attorney and moved his practice to Iowa. Judge Fox appointed W.C. Anderson to fill the vacancy.

Politics gets space

Political news was given the greatest attention in the newspaper which is advocating the cause of the American or Know Nothing Party in which Laxasus W. Powell was expected to win.

A meeting notice called attention to the fact that the “American” of the West End will hold a ratification meeting in Perryville on March 29.

The Know Nothing Party was active throughout the country and predictions are that Fillmore and Donelson will be elected, however, it  remained for James Buchanan of Pennsylvania and John C. Breckenridge of Kentucky, nominees of the Democratic Party, to sweep the country and the death knell of the newly formed party was sounded.

A proposed Whig convention was set in Lexington. Joshua F. Bell and Beverly D. Williams of Boyle County belonged to the party, which had been strong throughout the nation and elected two presidents, William Henry Harrison and Zachary Taylor.

Boyle County candidates seeking re-election were:

G.W. Doneghy, sheriff; James H. Irvine, police judge for Danville; M.T. Chrisman, circuit clerk; John L. Bridges, circuit judge in 76th District;  and Thomas P. Young, county attorney.

Numerous candidates were running for a seven -member town trustees.


About 70 percent of the space of the March issue was devoted to advertisements that included stallions and jacks, candidate cards, plantations for sale, dry goods, groceries and others.

Crab Orchard Springs, under management of J.H. Caldwell, was one of the great watering places in the south, advertised.

The Batterton House of Danville, the Riffe House in Hustonville offered rooms for rent. G.H. Withers, proprietor of the Boyle Gardens in Danville offered nursery stock.

Railroads, including the L&N and Louisville and Frankfort listed schedules.

R.J. Breckinridge of Danville offered to rent a plantation on Hustonville Pike, five miles from town. Corn meal at Mock’s Mill was offered at 35 cents per bushel.

The advertisements also included people buying and selling slaves. A Lexington man wanted a “few Negros, both sexes, between 12 and 25 years old.”  

Businesses in Louisville also advertised their goods.

The newspaper also mentioned advertisements for local businesses for jewelry, millinery goods, and local entertainment

An advertiser in New Orleans said admirers of the late and much loved Henry Clay, the Great Pacificator, were raising funds for the erection of a monument of Clay in their city.

Danville High School, conducted by George Frazer, and Herman J. Allen, located in McKee’s school building, announced courses and tuition rates.

The Tribune was published weekly on North Third Street by John F. Zimmerman & son. Cost was $2 per year in advance, $2.50 for six months and $3 at the end of the year.

Found in old hotel

The copy of the Tribune was found by Junius Hancock in and old building occupied as the Hancock Hotel in Columbia. The subscriber was Col. T.C. Bramlette, a veteran of the Mexican War, and  officer in  the War Between the States, and was elected governor of Kentucky in 1863.