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Country: United States
City: New Bloomfield, Pa.
Issues of this title available in Elephind: 260
Items (articles and/or pages) from this title available in Elephind: 2,076
Earliest Date: 4 January 1870
Latest Date: 29 December 1874
As often happened in Pennsylvaniaâ€™s early geopolitical history, Perry Countyâ€™s origins are rooted in citizensâ€™ complaints. The residents of northern Cumberland County disliked the trek south over an Appalachian Mountain ridge to reach Carlisle, the county seat, and petitioned state officials to split Cumberland in half. This was done on March 22, 1820, creating the 51st county in Pennsylvania.
The new county, bordered by mountains on three sides and the Susquehanna River on the east, was named after Oliver Hazard Perry (1785-1819), hero of the Battle of Lake Erie, who had died seven months earlier. Ten locations competed to become the county seat. The tract known as Bloom Field in its original land warrant was chosen, and a town was platted in June 1823. By 1829 (according to Harry Hainâ€™s History of Perry County, 1922), Bloomfield boasted 29 houses, four stores, five taverns, half a dozen lawyers, and about 220 souls. Later in the 19th century, in addition to the county government, Bloomfieldâ€™s economy included small industries such as a brewery, tannery, and foundry.Â
An oddity of the town is its use of two different names, simultaneously and randomly. The earliest references call it Bloomfield, the name under which the borough was incorporated in 1831. However, the first post office opened on May 23, 1825, as New Bloomfield. Some sources suggest that the Post Office Department was avoiding confusion with a borough near Pittsburgh called Bloomfield. The duality of names is reflected in the Bloomfield Times and the New Bloomfield, Pa. Times, consecutive versions of the same newspaper, under the same editor and proprietor, Frank Mortimer. Mortimer moved to Perry County in 1864 to open a mercantile business, which he moved to New Bloomfield in 1865. Mortimer established the Bloomfield Times in 1867 as a free monthly advertising sheet for his business, including some local news. In 1870 he expanded the publication, making it a weekly â€œIndependent Family Newspaperâ€� with subscriptions at $1 a year. It was an eight-page newspaper at a time when most country papers were only four. For a short period of time in the mid-1870s, the newspaper carried the Times as its title.
Starting from a circulation of about 300, by 1877 the New Bloomfield, Pa. Times was printing between 1,800 and 1,900 copies a week, a volume that led it to become the first Perry County newspaper to acquire a steam-powered press. On January 4, 1870, Mortimer stated that the Times would continue to be independent, but â€œwe do not mean a neutral one; for while we shall not advocate the interests of any party, we shall claim and exercise the right to support every measure which we think calculated to promote the public good, or to criticize the acts of men in official positions regardless of party favor.â€�
Under all its names, the Times always appeared lively and prosperous. As Mortimer also stated in the January 1870 issue, the publication always gave â€œa full report of local and miscellaneous news, and the market price currentâ€¦stories, anecdotes, agricultural intelligence, and such a variety of interesting reading matter, that its visits will be anxiously looked for by every reader.â€� The Times continued to prosper into the early 1880s when F. Mortimer & Company changed the name of the paper to the Perry County Times claiming to be the largest paper in Perry County with circulation of 2,225--more than double that of any other paper in the county.
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