A Handwritten Community Newspaper

Images from Freeport Historical Society

In January 1859, the South Freeport Mutual Improvement Society Proprietors, a church group, started a handwritten newspaper to be circulated in South Freeport.

The "Cruiser" was intended for "the general interest and amusement of said society." They encouraged contributions from members and non-members "on any and every subject that they may wish to write on."

The editors noted that the paper would include "the current news of the day, Poetry, a shipping list as well as all other matter of interest usually found in similar publication."

In 1859, South Freeport comprised about 60 households. Residents were involved primarily in shipbuilding and related occupations and farming. There was one church and clergyman, a school, a store, and a post office.

Handwritten newspapers, intended to be read aloud or shared among households, were not uncommon in the 19th century. Like many such papers, the "Cruiser" did not last long – eight issues produced from January to April 1859.

Most of the articles were literary, rather than "breaking" news and many were signed with pseudonyms.

Humor also was common, such as this item about ship arrivals from the first issue, "Wednesday, Jan 19. Owing to the embargo laid upon our harbor, by King John I – vulgarly known as Jack Frost – we have no arrivals to chronicle."