of the National Geographic News Service, included the local paper in his published article entitled, “Unusual names bestowed on a few U.S. newspapers.”
Back on Aug. 7, 1841 when the Whig was first published, Cecil County already had one political paper known as the Cecil Democrat churning out news. Supporters of the opposing Whig Party decided to launch their very own newspaper known as The Whig, according to Donald Herring, longtime editor of the Whig, when Weintraub contacted him for his article.
Weintraub notes the names of some equally unusually named papers from across the country in his brief feature news article. Among these was the Laramie, Wy., Boo- merang, which was named for a mule; the Youngstown, Ohio, Vindicator, so named by founder J.H. O’Dell, a printer who’d been run out of Beaver Falls, Pa., around the time of the Civil War for the self-judged sin of being a Democrat. In 1971, The Metropolis, Illinois, paper the Metropolis News sought a bit of marketing help from the Man of Steel. They adopted the name The Planet, as the town of Metropolis officially “adopted” Superman as their own. Superman’s alter ego, of course, was reporter Clark Kent for The Planet newspaper in the popular comic books and movies.
While Cecil County’s own Cecil Whig carries the unusual name today it is actually one of three North American papers to hold ties to the Whig Party: the others are the Quincy Herald-Whig in Illinois while the other is the Kingston Whig-Standard in Canada.
When the Whig was first published it came out weekly, while it now features 24/7 news online at CecilDaily. com and publishes a printed edition three days a week with a circulation of some 10,000 readers. In the early days, the Whig promoted itself as “Devoted to Politics, Agriculture, the Useful Arts, Literature and General Intelligence.” With those lofty goals at the wheelhouse, the first editor, Palmer Chamberlain Ricketts, published his weekly newspaper in his tiny log cabin near the intersection of Elkton’s Main and Bow streets in what was then referred to as “the Hollow.”
Two years later, Ricketts wasn’t just printing the news — he was the news. He shot and killed the editor of the rival newspaper The Cecil Democrat, which was published weekly all the way until 1981 in Elkton, during a scuffle that started as the result of quarreling newspaper editorials. Despite being confined behind bars in the Elkton Jail, Ricketts kept publishing his newspaper while on trial. He even got to write his own ending when the jury ruled he acted in self-defense, as his enemy wielded a cane to his pistol.
In 1852, Ricketts moved the Whig out of the log cabin to a location closer to Big Elk Creek, then in 1855 to downtown Elkton into what was known as the Cecil Whig Building on North Street, between the former Courthouse and County Jail. Ricketts called the spot, “one of the best locations in town.”
Shortly after the end of the Civil War, by June 1866, the Whig moved again under publisher and editor Edwin Ewing, who had a new building erected at the corner of Elkton’s North Street and Whig Street, which was named after the paper but today is a parking lot. Ewing’s building was destroyed by fire on Oct. 30, 1868. After building a new brick plant on Whig Street, he continued publishing his newspaper and used it as a cudgel to bash local fire companies for failing to save his beloved building.
This new home would continue to be used for nearly a century, luckily surviving a devastating fire in 1948. It was this former Whig offices where the rapid advance of technology changed news service and the lives of the Whig’s readers with steampowered machinery, including presses, electricity, telephones, typewriters and cameras.
The current home of the Cecil Whig, at 601 N. Bridge St., was the result of years of investment from one-time owner E. Ralph Hostetter, who also bought one of the first photo-offset printers east of the Mississippi River. The newspaper’s operations moved there in September 1960, where they have stayed to this day. While operations have consolidated and ownership has changed through the decades, today the paper is a strong part of the familyowned Adams Publishing Group chain.
Today, the Cecil Whig is one of America’s oldest newspapers and among the oldest businesses still operating in the county.
There is much more to reflect upon and the Whig is excited to announce that on Saturday, subscribers will receive a special 48-page commemorative edition that highlights the history and heritage of the county’s newspaper of record. Newsstand copies will be available around Cecil County as well for $2.