What was advertised in a colonial newspaper 250 years ago today?
“A house of entertainment … good assortment of liquors … food for men and horses.”
Daniel Ocain used an advertisement to announce that he had opened a tavern and inn in Savannah in 1766. In just a few lines he let potential customers know about the variety of services available ay his “house of entertainment.” He offered “to board or lodge any person that please to favour him with their custom.” Although he did not say so explicitly, Ocain stabled horses for his guests, as his promise of “food for men and horses” suggested. To entice potential visitors to choose his establishment over others, he also promoted his “large and good assortment of liquors.”
Ocain resorted to two methods in listing his location. For the headline for his advertisement he used “DANIEL OCAIN in Savannah.” At the conclusion of the advertisement he indicated that he operated his business “at his house near the Hon. James Habersham, Esq.’s in Johnson-Square.” That would have been sufficient for local residents familiar with the area to find their way to his tavern, even if they didn’t already know Ocain or where he lived and worked. His initial announcement that he operated a tavern and inn “in Savannah” was for the benefit of readers outside the port. The Georgia Gazette was the only newspaper printed in the colony in 1766. As a result, it served readers far beyond Savannah. Copies circulated throughout the colony and throughout the Lower South and beyond. Ocain opened his advertisement by noting that his “house of entertainment” was in Savannah to attract the attention of distant readers who might have business or other reasons to visit the city and would need a place to lodge. Ocain knew that in the 1760s “local” newspapers usually had distant readers.