WHIG

Cecil Whig - - LO­CAL -

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.

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