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Harper's Ferry times. [volume] : (Harpers Ferry, W. Va.) 1903-1907
Place of publication:
Harpers Ferry, W. Va.
Geographic coverage:
  • Harpers Ferry, Jefferson, West Virginia  |  View more titles from this: City County, State
F.A. Coe & W.O. Towns
Dates of publication:
  • Began Feb. 4, 1903.
  • Ceased in 1907?
  • English
  • Harpers Ferry (W. Va.)--Newspapers.
  • West Virginia--Harpers Ferry.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01212444
  • Available on microfilm from U.M.I.
  • Description based on: Vol. 1, no. 29 (July 24, 1903).
sn 85059785
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Harper's Ferry times. [volume] July 24, 1903 , Image 1


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Harper’s Ferry Times

The Harper's Ferry Times (initially spelled "Harpers Ferry," without the apostrophe) began publication in 1903 in the titular town located in Jefferson County, West Virginia. Early issues list W.O. Towns and F.A. Coe as "Publishers and Prop[rietor]s" but by 1905 only Towns remained as "editor and proprietor." According to Ralph Lewis's Historical Sketch of Camp Hill-Wesley Methodist Church, Coe injured his hand on the printing press and that led to his departure. The following year saw Towns's title changed again to "Editor and Manager" and his son, W.G. Towns, take over as "Owner and Proprietor." Throughout its run, the paper was published weekly, on Fridays, at the rate of $1 per year. Starting out at four pages, by 1906, the paper could be seen to contain eight or more. A 1948 report by the Frederick, Maryland News about a bound collection of old Times issues indicates this as well.

The elder Towns was involved with at least one other paper in addition to the Times, that being the Storer Record, the student newspaper of Harpers Ferry's historically black Storer College. Towns served as manager of the students and published the Times via the same press as the Record. While extant issues of the Times do not explicitly advocate for one political party over another, Towns's willingness to work for Storer and his paper's stance in favor of Prohibition by 1907 invite the possibility of his being a Republican. On the other hand, he appears to have had a cordial relationship with the editors of the Spirit of Jefferson out of nearby Charles Town, a staunchly Democratic paper. Spirit not only reprinted news from the Times but explicitly wished Towns well upon his visiting Charles Town in March of 1914, writing "Come again brother." Regardless, often times the Townses own political leanings, whatever their true nature, took a backseat to a column, which was dedicated to readers' opinions sent into the paper.

The Times published a variety of columns in its pages, with a significant portion dedicated to serial excerpts of literature by women authors. Readers of the Times could find within its church directories as well as local and regional news in the form of "Bolivar Brevities" (Bolivar, West Virginia is adjacent to Harpers Ferry) as well as "Hillsboro Happenings" covering the eponymous Virginia town just over 10 miles south. Proximate parts of Maryland such as Hagerstown were also covered by the Times's coverage. A plethora of ads and the occasional recipe were joined by a children's-oriented column entitled "For the Little Ones," outlining fun and presumably educational activities kids could do, much in the manner of "Mini Page," a syndicated column currently appearing in newspapers throughout the United States.

Both the Martinsburg W Va Evening Journal and Charles Town's Farmers' Advocate reported in November of 1918 that the Times was shutting down when the Townses move to Washington, D.C. Coupled with Spirit's continued references to Towns and the Times earlier in the 1910s, this confirms that the paper lasted well beyond the 1907 issues known to be in existence. However, whether copies of the Times from 1908 onwards have survived to the present has yet to be determined.

Provided by: West Virginia University