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Country: United States
City: McConnellsburg, Pa.
Issues of this title available in Elephind: 899
Items (articles and/or pages) from this title available in Elephind: 7,402
Earliest Date: 21 September 1899
Latest Date: 26 December 1918
The Fulton County News is the sole survivor today of the half-dozen 19th-century newspapers in McConnellsburg, Pennsylvania. Independent politically in its early years, the News did not editorialize, but focused instead on providing a wide variety of interesting reading material, like a combination newspaper/magazine. The Fulton County News was eight pages long, when most rural Pennsylvania weeklies were only four.
Fulton County, on the Pennsylvania-Maryland border, was formed in 1850 and named for Pennsylvania native Robert Fulton, builder of the first commercially successful steamboat. McConnellsburg, the county seat, is in a valley of the Appalachians and was laid out in 1786 by Daniel McConnell, one of original warrantees of the land where the town stands. By the end of the 19th century its economic base consisted of county government and some small industries.
McConnellsburg was constrained by its geography, but it became an important stopping place for early travelers. The town was on the turnpike that connected eastern and western Pennsylvania and also was the terminus of the road from Washington, D.C. The 1793 Fulton House hotel hosted Presidents John Adams, Zachary Taylor, William Henry Harrison, and James Buchanan. The “Packers’ Path” used by early traders in the town became part of the 1913 transcontinental Lincoln Highway. Stagecoaches descending the steep hills into McConnellsburg were often held upright by men pulling on ropes, inspiring local farmer George Diven to invent (though never patent) a friction brake whose design principles were profitably used later by the likes of Westinghouse Air Brake Company.
When Bennett Wilson Peck (1850-1921) founded the Fulton County News on September 21, 1899, McConnellsburg had 576 residents and two other newspapers: the Fulton Democrat (founded 1850) and the Fulton Republican (1851), politically partisan as indicated, and each with a circulation of 900-1,000. By 1920, the News was circulating to 2,200; the Democrat to 1,500; and the Republican to 900 readers. Peck had been a schoolteacher and then Fulton County school superintendent from 1887 to1896. He owned the Fulton Democrat from 1895 to1898, selling it to start the News. Peck died in June 1921 and Edgar M. Krug (1877-1930), a newspaperman in State College and Huntingdon, bought the paper. In 1921 the Fulton Republican closed and the News became a Republican paper. Having become deaf, Krug made his wife a business partner, and Mary Sents Krug (1883-1942) assumed the post of editor after his death.
The Fulton County News under Peck and the Krugs published general national, state, and county news, and columns about fashion, religion, and food, but its main focus was always local human interest. The main article on page one, January 11, 1905, had a headline that could have been the newspaper’s mission statement: “About People You Know. Snapshots of their movements, as they come and go, names of visitors and visited, home for a vacation, away for an outing or trip for business or pleasure, you’ll find it right here.” The attention to the details of local life made the Fulton County News of compelling interest to its contemporary readers, and it remains of enduring value to family, local, and social historians studying that place and its people.
Provided by: Penn State University Libraries; University Park, PA