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Publication Details

The Cambria freeman.

More information about this newspaper title may be available on the source website.

Source: Chronicling America [US Library of Congress]

Country: United States

State: Pennsylvania

City: Ebensburg, Pa.

Issues of this title available in Elephind: 1,409

Items (articles and/or pages) from this title available in Elephind: 5,708

Earliest Date: 18 April 1867

Latest Date: 10 September 1897


Cambria Freeman

Cambria County in Pennsylvania lies in the Alleghenies, a rugged stretch of the vast Appalachian mountain range. The county was formed on March 26, 1804, and called a variant of an ancient name of Wales (Cumbria), reflecting the region’s longtime Welsh presence. Ebensburg, in Cambria’s geographical center, became the county seat. Welsh roots here dated to 1796, when a small group of religious dissidents arrived from Philadelphia led by Congregational Minister Rees Lloyd, who named the settlement after his late son, Eben.  Situated in a rich bituminous coal region, Ebensburg thrived on mining and small industries and prospered in the late 1800s as a summer mountain resort for wealthy visitors including Andrew Carnegie and the Vanderbilts. Some of the rich visitors contributed generously to rebuilding the town after a disastrous fire in 1915 devastated much of it.

The Democrat and Sentinel of Ebensburg ceased publication at the end of 1866, leaving the county seat without a Democratic press. Robert L. Johnston, an attorney and judge, and Henry A. McPike, an experienced newspaperman (both of whom had been associated with the recently defunct newspaper), answered the call by launching the Cambria Freeman in Ebensburg on January 31, 1867. Johnston was the editor and McPike, who had produced the Mountain Echo in Johnstown and the Crusader in Summitville, both in Cambria County, was publisher.

The first issue of the Cambria Freeman proclaimed, "Truth shall be our pole star, for in the language of the poet. ‘He is a FREEMAN whom the truth makes free, And all are slaves beside.’ And with this anchor, THE FREEMAN fearlessly launches forth on the sea of public opinion." (The unnamed poet quoted was the 18th-century writer William Cowper.) The Cambria Freeman advertised itself as “A Democratic weekly newspaper; devoted to politics, news, literature, home interests and general information.” In common with other politically aligned publications of its kind, the Freeman was a partisan newspaper that took its duties seriously; politics was mentioned first in its list of services, and political news and commentary figured hugely in every issue.

On October 16, 1872, with the election imminent (the Democratic ticket included Horace Greeley for president and Charles Buckalew for governor), Johnston wrote, “Democrats! Are you ready for the contest? Before another issue of our paper the great battle between honesty and integrity on the one side, and fraud and corruption on the other, will have been fought and won,” pointing to Buckalew, “the honest and talented Democrat,” versus Hartranft, “the dishonest and incompetent Radical” (who was indeed elected governor).

Johnston retired and McPike handled the Freeman alone until selling it in 1884 to James Gibbs Hasson, an attorney who had learned the newspaper business from his father (also a lawyer) during the latter’s association with the old Democrat and Sentinel in the 1860s. The transition from McPike to Hasson was seamless, the Freeman continuing its format, content, and vigorous support of the Democratic cause. By 1923, however, its editorial stance had changed to Independent under John H. McCann. The Cambria Freeman ceased publication in 1938.

Provided by: Penn State University Libraries; University Park, PA