Rare Book Monthly

Articles - March - 2009 Issue

A Long and Winding Road

Horfe

A notice to horse thieves


In purchasing it I was expecting a volume bound in the same manner as the Poughkeepsie Telegraphs. I was in for a surprise. This volume was interleaved, the weekly issues separated with heavy paper. They came to me in the same pristine condition they would have been in on the day they were printed.

The wonderful, highly protected form has since allowed me to read the papers, probably more thoroughly than they were in their own day. They were of course printed on hand presses, first on one side and then the other. The press bed must have been very large for issues were a single sheet 26 x 20.75” quarter folded.

As to what I've already gleaned, slavery was a continuing business and Parclete Potter played some role in it. Here are some advertisements:

For Sale. A Negro Boy aged 19 years, an excellent cook, and good gardener - Enquire at the printer. March 10, 1810

For Sale. A healthy. Strong & industrious Black Girl, between 16 and 17 years of age. Enquire at the printer.

Ten Dollars Reward. Ran away from the fubfiber on Wednesday morning, a black man named Amos about twenty one years of age, five feet nine or ten inches high, front built and pretty black. Had on when he went away a pair of homespun striped tow trowfers, veft and a blackhat. Said Amos was brought up by Jacob Evertson Esq, late of Pleasant Valley, deceased, and since his death has been owned by Mr. Lewis of Gofhen. Said Amos is very fond of singing and dancing. John Pearsall, Clinton. Sept. 10

Slavery is rarely discussed as part of the history of the Hudson Valley but it is part of its history. Random advertisements do not tell a complete story but they tell us there is a story to be learned.

I have also looked in the various issues for evidence that Robert Fulton, who patented his steamboat design in 1809, might have stopped in Poughkeepsie in 1810. I haven't found such evidence yet. There is ample evidence of sailing on the Hudson and that, at least in 1810, the river was clear enough of ice to announce in late March:

Fast Sailing Sloops – Mary & Driver in the care of Capt. John C. VanValkenburgh and William T. Belden, will sail the ensuing season as usual from the landing of Geo. P. Oakley & Co. The strict attention to business and the excellent accommodations for passengers on board of these vessels is their best recommendation to the patronage of the public.

There is of course much more. The large pages are densely packed with type, much of it carried over from week to week. The type is small and the pages large so it's necessary to stand over the volume to read it. I'll probably return to it every week to read another issue. In its day, its readers would have bent the paper over, held it to the light and tossed the once-read paper into the fire. Two hundred years later it has become a precious, slender thread to the reality of Poughkeepsie in 1810. As a collector it's a privilege to own such material.

Rare Book Monthly

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