The Library of Congress > Chronicling America > St. Mary's beacon.

Search America's historic newspaper pages from 1756-1963 or use the U.S. Newspaper Directory to find information about American newspapers published between 1690-present. Chronicling America is sponsored jointly by the National Endowment for the Humanities external link and the Library of Congress. Learn more

St. Mary's beacon. [volume] : (Leonard Town, Md.) 1845-1863
Alternative Titles:
  • Saint Mary's beacon
Place of publication:
Leonard Town, Md.
Geographic coverage:
  • Leonardtown, Saint Mary's, Maryland  |  View more titles from this: City County, State
George S. King
Dates of publication:
  • -v. 19, no. 9 (Apr. 23, 1863).
  • Began in 1845.
  • English
  • Maryland--Saint Mary's County.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01237874
  • Saint Mary's County (Md.)--Newspapers.
  • Archived issues are available in digital format from the Library of Congress Chronicling America online collection.
  • Description based on: Vol. 1, no. 3 (July 3, 1845).
  • Suspended Apr. 30-Sept. 24, 1863.
sn 89060119
Preceding Titles:
Succeeding Titles:
Related Links:
View complete holdings information
First Issue Last Issue

St. Mary's beacon. [volume] October 7, 1852 , Image 1


Calendar View

All front pages

First Issue  |  Last Issue

St. Mary's Beacon, Saint Mary's Beacon and St. Mary's Gazette

St. Mary's County, at the mouth of the Potomac River, was the founding location for the colony of Maryland in the 1630s. Established in 1845, the St. Mary's Beacon, published weekly, traces its origin to the Leonard Town Herald, which was started by Francis M. Jarboe on December 13, 1839, in the county seat. Around 1845, the paper was rechristened the St. Mary's Beacon, under the ownership of George Haydn, who had a reputation for literary interests. In 1852, Haydn sold the Beacon to George S. King, a local attorney, and three years later, John Franklin King acquired the paper from his uncle. The younger King had worked for Jarboe before completing a formal printing apprenticeship in the 1840s with John Murphy, one of Baltimore's leading publishers.

The Beacon's conservative pro-Southern stance during the Civil War led to difficulties during John King's tenure. The Beacon noted with approval local celebrations of the fall of Fort Sumpter and supported subsequent plans to prepare the county militia to resist federal authority. King's co-editor James S. Downs was arrested and imprisoned for an editorial published in April 1863 entitled "The War on Women." To criticize the treatment of Confederate sympathizers was considered treasonable, and the Beacon was shut down by federal order. A replacement newspaper, the St. Mary's Gazette, filled the void from 1863 to 1865, reporting on the frequent arrests of local citizens for acts of disloyalty. Downs returned from prison and took over the Gazette at the end of the war, which resumed the name St. Mary's Beacon in September 1867. By 1872, John King reappeared on the masthead as the co-publisher with Downs.

Federal nervousness over public opinion in St. Mary's County was a product of its proximity to Virginia and the presence of a large prisoner of war camp at nearby Point Lookout. Tensions were high as St. Mary's became a major recruiting ground for United States Colored Troop regiments.

After 1865, the pages of the Beacon recorded both change and continuity. One of the county's longstanding institutions, the Charlotte Hall Academy, continued a tradition of military training begun in 1774 and served as a center for social functions. Women's education at St. Mary's Female Seminary began in 1839 the school became a junior college in 1926 and a full college in the 1960s. Beacon editors noted the impact in Southern Maryland of steamboat lines, which connected St. Mary's to Baltimore and Washington and were a vital link helping local farmers and oystermen move their products to larger urban markets. Improved accessibility attracted tourists seeking an escape from the summer heat to resorts along the Potomac River shore. In 1881, Francis Vernon King took over the Beacon from his father, and in 1914 he was succeeded by his son, Aloysius Fenwick King. The King family's century-long control of the Beacon ended in 1953 when the paper was sold to Speer Publications of Annapolis.

Provided by: University of Maryland, College Park, MD