April 21

What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?

Pennsylvania Journal (April 21, 1773).

“A STAGE WAGGON, to go from Great-Egg-Harbour to Philadelphia.”

Newspaper advertisements kept residents of Philadelphia and its hinterlands informed about transportation infrastructure that connected the busy port to other towns in the 1770s.  Shortly after Rensselaer Williams published his advertisement about the Royal Oak Inn adjacent to the Trenton Ferry and Charles Bessonett promoted his “FLYING MACHINE,” a stagecoach between Philadelphia and Princeton with connections to New York, William McCarrell ran his own advertisement to advise the public that he “has fitted a STAGE WAGGON, to go from Great-Egg-Harbour” in New Jersey “to Philadelphia once every week.”

McCarrell provided a schedule so passengers could plan their journeys.  The stage “set off from Ann Risleys, at Abseekam [Absecon], on Monday mornings” and passed by “Thomas Clark’s mill and the Forks” on its way to the Blue Anchor.  The stage likely stopped at that inn for the night before continuing to Longacoming and Haddonsfield and arriving at Samuel Cooper’s ferry on Tuesday afternoon.  After crossing the Delaware River via the ferry, the stage paused in Philadelphia until Thursday morning before retracing its route and returning to Absecon on Friday afternoon.

In addition to passengers, McCarrell’s stage also carried freight, such as “dry goods or other articles” as well as newspapers and letters, charging four pence each.  McCarrell sought to generate additional revenue with that ancillary service, declaring that “persons that live convenient” to the route “may have the news-papers regular” if they contacted him to make arrangements.  Although his advertisement ran in the Pennsylvania Journal, McCarrell transported any of the newspapers published in Philadelphia at the time, including the Pennsylvania Chronicle, the Pennsylvania Gazette, and the Pennsylvania Packet.  Each of those publications owed some of its circulation beyond the city to post riders and stage operators.  As a result, McCarrell and his counterparts not only carried passengers and freight but also helped disseminate information throughout the colonies.

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