Nuggets From 19th-Century Newspapers

Print this entry

Since going into stay-at-home mode last March, I have spent many hours transcribing articles from newspapers published in the 1830s through the 1850s, for a history book project. In the 35 years since I originally did research for a master’s thesis at UT-Austin, millions of newspaper pages have been digitized and are searchable. Now I can type in the keywords, and articles pop up that can be saved as pdfs and later transcribed. To date, I have compiled about 150,000 words’ worth of articles on everything from tariffs to slave-trading, the Regulator-Moderator War in Shelby County, and Sam Houston’s inaugural address for his second term as president of the Republic of Texas, delivered in San Augustine. That is roughly the equivalent of a 400-page book. I figure I am about three-fourths of the way through digging into these old papers.

Hey, it keeps me safe and off the streets.

I thought I would share some of the more amusing (at least to me) nuggets I have gathered during this lengthy search.

  • Rise from the table when the appetite is yet good, for thousands annually dig their grave with their own teeth. — Red-Lander (San Augustine), Sept. 30,1841
  • THE JAIL — This receptacle for individuals who board, wash and lodge, free gratis for nothing — or who wish to take private lodgings, in “a retired part of the city,” at the expense of Government — is in a fair way for completion. Several berths are already ‘spoke for.’ The difficulty, however, will be, when it comes to cooping different colors in the same apartment. — Red-Lander, Oct. 14, 1841
  • A New York paper, some time since, remarked that it knew a poor devil of a printer who was going to open a banking house — as soon as he could borrow a crow-bar. —Northern Standard (Clarksville), Sept. 24, 1842
  • Persons who expect to pay their subscriptions in wheat or corn, will please deliver at once, or they will not be received. — Northern Standard, Nov. 12, 1845
  • The Editor of the Register having left on a visit to the United States, the Register will, until his return, be under the conduction of an untrammeled writer; the editor therefor should be held blameless for whatever course the pro tem editor may seem fit to adopt. — Texas National Register (Austin), May 22, 1845
  • We copy the following good advice from an exchange paper, which we think is worthy of remembering: “Be content as long as your mouth is full and your body warm — remember the poor — kiss the pretty girls — don’t rob your neighbor’s hen-roost — never pick an editor’s pockets, nor have an idea that he is going to treat, kick dull care to the deuce — black your own boots and pay for your newspapers.” — Texas National Register (Austin), Dec. 17, 1845
  • Dexter Watson, an old citizen of Texas, died recently at San Augustine after a life of adventure and vicissitude. — Daily Dispatch (Richmond, Virginia), May 7, 1853
  • A Rare Cotton Stalk — The San Augustine (Texas) Herald of the 28th Nov. says, they have in their office a Cotton Stalk, raised on an upland farm, by Wm. Todd, Esq. of Shelby County. It is thirteen feet six inches in height and yielded 400 bolls. — Natchez (Mississippi) Daily Courier, Jan. 18, 1839
  • Rise early — walk a mile — gulp in the morning air — and then return home, seat yourself at the breakfast table, and eat a pound of streaks. It is a glorious way of spending these glorious mornings. Whenever we rise with the sun, and feel the fresh breeze kissing our cheeks, and sporting about our temples, we feel, as we look round on the opening glories of the day, as if we wanted something to thank. If we thought there was no God, we could wish for one then to pour out our heart to him for his goodness. — New Orleans Sun (Reprinted in the Telegraph & Texas Register (Houston), June 19, 1839

Sounds like sage advice. Think I’ll go take a walk, maybe grill some steaks later.


Print this entry

Leave a reply

Fields marked with * are required