Today I Learned My Then-80-Year-Old 5th Great-Grandfather was Recruiting Newspaper Subscribers in 1858 for the Pittsburgh Gazette

My whole life long, I’ve had a connection to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette through my great-grandfather, Gilbert Remley. Gil had a long history as a newspaperman, starting as a copy boy for the Pittsburgh Sun in 1906 and retiring in August 1958 as the Executive Sports Editor for the Post-Gazette.

Today, I learned something astonishing about my family support of this paper with the discovery that my 5th great grandfather, James Kerr (1778-1864) was an early patron of The Pittsburgh Post which was then a weekly publication.  Note, that I just this week discovered James Kerr in my family tree and was quite shocked to see his death so robustly honored.

Per the death notice (see image below):

It is perhaps worthy of remark that Mr. Kerr was one of the oldest patrons of the Gazette, having subscribed for it about half a century ago, and continued to read it regularly while he lived. He was not only a subscriber, but labored to extend the circulation of the paper among his neighbors. As an evidence of the interest which he exhibited in this respect, we may state that, when eighty years old, he raised a club of twenty two for our weekly publication, and brought the list to our office himself.

Wow. He was an 80-year-old man in 1858, recruiting new subscribers for the paper that is right now engaged in a public campaign to deride older subscribers. He subscribed himself for fifty years. For reference, the Gazette was founded on July 29, 1786.

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What strikes me here is that a community elder was encouraging other people to adopt the ‘new technology’ of the daily paper by promoting subscriptions. What a shame that the current ownership of the Post-Gazette are so blinded by greed and avarice that they can’t creatively tap into their loyal elder subscriber base in a manner similar to my then-80-year-old 5th great-grandfather in 1858.

I’m still a subscriber, but I’m also now a columnist for a new news venture – The Pittsburgh Current which launched on July 11, 2018 almost 232 years to the date after the weekly Pittsburgh Gazette hit the dusty paths of Pittsburgh. You should read it regularly. Don’t make me take a list to the publisher … obviously, I’ll do it.



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