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Home North Carolina Cumberland County City of Fayetteville Historical Markers The Fayetteville Observer

The Fayetteville Observer

Whitfield Street, Fayetteville, NC, USA
  North Carolina State Historical Marker
    North Carolina State
Historical Marker
    Marker Text:
"Oldest N.C. newspaper still being published. Begun 1816 as weekly; daily since 1896. E. J. Hale, editor, 1824-1865."
     The oldest newspaper still being published in North Carolina had a modest start. In Fayetteville on June 20, 1816, Francis W. Waldo launched a four-page weekly newspaper called the Carolina Observer. The paper passed through the hands of several editors, including Alexander H. Dismukes, John MacRae, and Lemuel Bingham, before Edward Jones Hale purchased it. Hale’s first issue of the renamed Fayetteville Observer was printed January 13, 1825, announcing the visit of the Marquis de Lafayette to the nation’s capital.

     Hale had completed his apprenticeship under Joseph Gales at the Raleigh Register and went on to train under Gales at the National Intelligencer in Washington, D.C. One of the state’s founders of the Whig Party in 1834, Hale was a strong political force and his influential paper had the largest circulation in the state by 1850. When General William T. Sherman entered Fayetteville in 1865, he ordered that the offices of the Observer, one of the principal Confederate newspapers, be burned. Hale had removed his important files prior to the fire, and when contacted about the destruction later, claimed that Sherman and his men “could not have paid him a higher compliment.” Following the fire, Hale moved to New York to open a publishing company. His son, Edward Jones Hale Jr., returned to Fayetteville in 1883 and resumed publication of the Observer.

     The Fayetteville Observer became a daily paper in 1896. It was operated by the Hales family until 1919. After a few other ownership changes, the paper was purchased by a New York businessman, who formed the Fayetteville Publishing Company. Charles Robert Wilson became the publisher of the paper in its new and modern quarters on Hay Street in 1924, where it remains today.

John A. Oates, The Story of Fayetteville and the Upper Cape Fear (1950)
Roy Parker Jr., Cumberland County: A Brief History (1990)
Fayetteville Observer, December 23, 1939
William S. Powell, ed., Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, III, 3-4—sketch of Edward Jones Hale by D. A. Yanchisin
Cumberland County 250 website: http://www.cumberlandcounty250.com/1855notables.html

Related Themes: C.S.A., Confederate States of America, Confederacy
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