This May 20, 1796 edition, is the earliest extant version of Die York Gazette, an anti-Federalist publication that also reflected the dry humor of the Pennsylvania Dutch. It tells about brewer Hannes’ bout with an old hermit. Hannes produced a beer that stopped headaches, created a good appetite and took care of constipation. Now the old hermit, Hannes’ neighbor, had seven pairs of old leather breeches, some that had not been washed for up to 15 years. The hermit mistook Hannes’ brewing vat for a laundry. He didn’t want to be too uncouth, putting one pair in the first brew, another in the next and so on. ‘But heavens above!’ Die York Gazette reported. ‘(T)he story came out, and Hannes lost the title of Doctor, and his famous small-beer acquired the name of breeches-water.’ The German-language newspaper was decisively political, and that focus helped get its owner, Solomon Meyer, into trouble. Also of interest: How Die York Gazette and its successors have viewed political races through the ages.
York County historian Walter Klinefelter had Die York Gazette’s Solomon Meyer in mind when he described printers of the late 1700s.
“He usually arrived with a ramshackle printing press,” he wrote, “and the traditional shirt-tailful of type to establish the first newspaper in the community … .”
That was Meyer, publisher of the German-language newspaper that is viewed as the earliest predecessor of the York Daily Record/Sunday News.
His four-page weekly newspaper was politically pointed in the anti-Federalist direction and captured the earthy humor of his Pennsylvania Dutch readers.
Newspapers, like people, are known to have black sheep in their family trees. Solomon Meyer was a rascal or worse, as we shall see. Continue reading “Solomon Meyer founded Die York Gazette, but his newspapering went downhill from there” »