Historical society receives old sign

LEWISTOWN – A bright yellow and blue tin advertising sign has been surfacing around the time of The Sentinel’s milestone anniversaries, but is now hanging in a new, permanent home.

The sign says “Bright and newsy, The Daily Sentinel, Lewistown PA, 25 cents per month.”

It first surfaced in 1968, unearthed by a local contractor, the late Paul J. Fagley, who knew right away what it was. He went straight to The Sentinel, on its 65th anniversary, to show off the treasure.

It resurfaced in the year 2003, for The Sentinel’s 100th anniversary and was the subject of a feature story that was a part of a special section printed to commemorate the occasion.

It has now made another comeback, just in time for the newspaper’s 110th anniversary.

This time, the family of the late Fagley chose to donate the sign to the community by way of presenting it to the Mifflin County Historical Society.

“My mother, sister and I, as a family, are donating it in memory of Paul J. Fagley and Joseph Kling, who found it together,” Fagley’s son, Paul said, explaining that Kling worked for his father when the two made the discovery of the old sign.

Fagley believes the sign was from 1903 or 1904, and is typical of signs that were hung in store windows to alert passersby of the availability of copies of the newspaper for purchase.

Fagley and his mother, Ruth Fagley, gave the sign to Harvey Eckert, of the Mifflin County Historical Society, during an informal presentation that also included Sentinel Publisher Ruth Eddy, at The Sentinel office in Lewistown, on the occasion of the newspaper’s 110th anniversary, which is today. Fagley’s sister, Susan Sharp, of Elizabethtown, was unable to attend.

Eckert said the sign will hang in the McCoy House Museum.

The following story, published in The Sentinel in October, 1968, reveals how the sign was discovered.

The coming of the new frequently brings reminders of the past. Such was the case several days ago when workmen uncovered several long-forgotten clues to the infancy of the Daily Sentinel.

Exactly 65 years from the date of the first edition of the daily, workers stumbled onto records of transactions that took place with the establishment of the newspaper in October of 1903.

Workmen for Paul J. Fagley, general contractor, were engaged in remodeling the former Bratton Furniture Store on Valley Street when they made the discovery. When they pulled a loose board off the back of the building, they were bombarded by a shower of paper, wooden type, and a most interesting sign.

The metal sign proclaims, “Bright and newsy – the Daily Sentinel -25 cents per month.”

The hundreds of pieces of paper turned out to be an assortment of receipts, freight bills and mailing receipts dated, for the most part, 1903 and 1904. It’s interesting to note that Post Office receipts, signed by George F. Stackpole, Postmaster, show a fee of one cent per pound for newspapers mailed to subscribers out of the county and for sample copies. The receipt also notes the number of copies “sent free in county of publication.”

Previously, workmen had torn down a building to the rear of the Bratton building which had been the main quarters of the Daily Sentinel. The demolition of that structure revealed a brick foundation on which a printing press had sat. In the foundation was a bucket of lead type.

The Daily Sentinel was born in the two Valley Street buildings when H.J. Fosnot printed the first edition Oct. 10, 1903. That first issue consisted of 1,000 copies. Mr. Fosnot continued operations at that location until October, 1910, when he moved to the present building. In 1916 the building was doubled in size as the Daily Sentinel grew in popularity.

The daily was descended from the Democrat and Sentinel, which was published weekly from 1879 until 1899, when it was published semi-weekly.

When the daily was born at the Valley Street location, it took a back seat in prominence to another venture that was carried on in the front of the building. Among the papers found by Fagley’s crew are many under the letterhead of “H.J. Fosnot. Everything in Music.”

If you’re thinking of the change in price of the Sentinel in the past 65 years, remember that way back then papers were mailed for a penny a pound. And there’s a freight receipt from the Pennsylvania Railroad Company for the shipment of a box of linotype from New York City – weight, 60 pounds; shipping charges, 39 cents.