Unusual Advertisements from Various Newspapers

Wilmington American Watchman, November 6, 1813


            “JULIA LIBBY, late of the River Raisin, after beholding her husband murdered and scalped was with her sister and three children taken prisoners and carried among the Indians, being separated from her sister and children, and being informed that they have arrived in New York, she would feel very thankful to any person that can give her any information respecting them–Her present residence is at Mr. John Yot’s, No. 103 Mulberry street, N. York.”



Salem Gazette, January 11, 1814

“TURKEY OPIUM — For Sale, NINETY lbs. TURKEY OPIUM. Inquire of the printer.”



Boston Daily Advertiser, February 24, 1815:

” This Evening February 24 will be presented the . . . Comedy in three acts called


To which will be added an afterpiece in 2 acts called



Boston Daily Advertiser, February 28, 1815:


Black Lead Melting Pots, equal to English, from No. 1 to 30, constantly for sale at No. 60, State-street, corner of Merchant’s Row.”


Nashville Clarion October 8, 1814:

Double Distilled Whiskey

9 bbls. Double Distilled whiskey of a superior quality at A. Thompson’s distillery in Kentucky for sale by the bbl. . . . 62 1/2 cents per gallon.”



From the Raleigh Star, on July 14, 1815 (reprinting an advertisement from a paper printed at Lexington, Kentucky)


The subscriber respectfully informs the citizens of Fayette and the adjoining counties that he will prepare an elegant Barbacue Dinner on the Fourth of July, at his own house on the Limestone road, 9 miles from Lexington, and about the same distance from Paris.–There will be an elegant arbour and seats prepared for ladies and gentlemen to amuse themselves in dancing. Excellent music is engaged for that purpose. The subscriber furnishes foreign liquors of the best quality for the LADIES–the gentleman will have free access to the use of domestic liquors–tickets of admittance, two dollars–there will be no expence of personal trouble omitted to render his entertainment brilliant and interesting.


The following, from the Cincinnati Western Spy of May 19, 1815, is the first advertisement I have seen warning others that the husband, left by the wife, will not be supported by him, that was written in verse:

On Sunday eve I took a wife,
In eight short hours she cleared out
And pack’d me back to single life,
To trudge and ramble all about.
How can I do it? Yet I must
Forbid you all, in ev’ry place,
To grant her any kind of trust,
Raiment or food, or one embrace.
Know then, her debts I will not pay,
Tho’ you her moans and tales believe:
Frances return, return I say,
And I will comfort and relieve.



There had earlier appeared, in the Chambersburg Repository (reprinted by the Commercial Advertiser on March 19, 1814), a rhyming advertisement notifying one and all of a runaway apprentice, signed by the poet and advertiser, George Mondis.

Good people all, I’ll tell you plain,
My ‘prentice Boy’s run off again;
Five feet eight is just his height,
Won’t work by day and rakes by night.
Isaac Wisner is his name,
When he ran off he too with him
A good brown coat, and ‘pon my word,
As good as war times can afford,
His pantaloons were brown likewise,
His hair cut short, and dark blue eyes,
If to the jail he is convey’d,
By me no charges will be paid.


And, the top-rated political advertisement has to be from the Dauphin Oracle, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, as reprinted by the Ohio Western America of October 28, 1815, with this introduction: “In the County of Dauphin, among numerous candidates, who offered for the Sheriffalty, are Melchior Rham, Henry Wolf and Jacob Bear; and last comes Andrew Lion in the Dauphin Oracle, with the following advertisement:


To the Free and Independent Electors of Dauphin County.

            “GENTLEMEN — Not having the least encouragement from friends or strangers, I beg leave to come forward at this late hour and offer myself as a candidate for the office of Sheriff.–Relying solely on my own merit, and particularly as I see on the list of candidates, a Bear, a Wolf,and a Ram, with several other animals too tedious to enumerate. But I consider myself a far superior animal to any of my opponents, & am pretty certain you will be of my opinion when you become acquainted with the claims I have on your gratitude. I have been a revolutionary soldier, (and an officer, if you please) suffered hunger, toil and heat, fought many bloody battles, got honorable scars, but little pay, and all this, gentlemen, merely that you may vote freely on the day of election. Now I tell you plainly how I shall discharge my duty, should I be so happy as to obtain a majority of your suffrages. 1st If writs are put into my hands against any of you, I will take you if I can, and unless you can get bail, I will deliver you over to the keeper of the jail. 2d If judgements are found against you, and executions directed to me, I will sell your property as the law directs without favor or affection, and if there should be any surplus money, I will punctually remit it. 3d and last. If any of you should commit a crime (which God forbid) that requires capital punishment according to law, I will hang you up by the neck till you are dead, dead, dead.Now gentlemen I hope you will not forget me on the day of election–and sincerely wish you many keep out of my hands, should you honor me with the office of Sheriff.

Your fellow-citizen to command,

Middle Paxton, Aug. 23, 1815

About the Author

Mary Bowden is a researcher working at the Texas Collections Deposit Library at the University of Texas. A little-known but invaluable treasure of U.S. history and the history of American journalism is archived in the collection of bound United States’ Newspapers at the University of Texas at Austin. The collection began more than a century ago and has been stored in recent years in the Texas Collections Deposit Library on the campus of the University of Texas. The sizeable archive is currently in the early stages of being digitized before being moved to a more climate-controlled environment at the J.J. Pickle Research Campus of the University, on the north side of Austin.

Mary Bowden