Top of page

Newspaper Lexington Gazette (Lexington, Va.) 1871-1962 Lexington gazette and general advertiser / Lexington gazette and citizen / Gazette

View All Front Pages

About Lexington Gazette (Lexington, Va.) 1871-1962

The Rockbridge County paper, founded in 1869, traces its origins to the Union, a weekly Democratic paper founded in 1832. Three years later, the Union became the Lexington Gazette , which under the editorship of Cornelius C. Baldwin quickly became known as a paper with “no sympathy whatever with the ‘States Rights party.’” By 1840 the Gazette was renamed the Lexington Gazette and Rockbridge Farmer, deftly targeting the township as well as the county’s considerable agricultural population. In 1853, with Alphonso Smith as editor, the title reverted to the more straightforward Gazette. The paper supported the American, or Know-Nothing, Party, a short-lived political movement intent on stemming the tide of Irish Catholic immigrants. In the South, party members were often far more anxious about both the pro-slavery extremism of the Democrats and rapid growth of the anti-slavery Republicans and concerned by the speed with which events were whirling out of control.

With the outbreak of the Civil War, the Gazette weathered paper shortages, worn type, and economic hardship. It was reduced to quarto size, the number of pages went from four to two, and it appeared just twice monthly. In June 1864, the Gazette suspended publication altogether, as Union troops then occupying Lexington scattered the paper’s type into the street. Later resurrected as the Gazette and Banner, the weekly was edited by former Confederate colonel Samuel H. Letcher.

In 1871, publisher Major John J. Lafferty restored the title Lexington Gazette. Robert E. Lee had appointed Lafferty the first head of the school of journalism at Washington College (now Washington and Lee University), and, as part of his new academic responsibilities, Lafferty provided additional instruction at the Lexington Gazette for his journalism students. Elihu H. Barclay, a farmer and the founder of the Virginia Press Association, edited the Gazette from 1874 until his death in 1902. During the 1870s, the four-page paper was issued each Friday, with subscriptions set at two dollars per year. Its weekly circulation by then was 980. Content focused mainly on local news, followed by state updates. There was also a good bit of marvelously outrageous humor–with orations by “Furiosus Bombasticus” and the “Reverend Theodore Swellhead.” By 1880, the Gazette’s circulation had reached approximately 1,500–out of a total county population of 16,058. The front page was capped by an expansive and highly decorative banner, and content was divided evenly between news and advertisements for local businesses. Printed in a 20-by-26-inch format, the Gazette featured articles on local real estate, agriculture, events at both Washington and Lee University and at the Virginia Military Institute, anecdotes and poetry, household hints, travel accounts, and a range of national news adapted from larger papers. Like many other newspapers in Virginia, the Gazette was also often filled with articles on Civil War campaigns and leaders, by then a well-honed genre familiarly known as “fighting them over.”

By 1900, circulation of the Gazette had dropped to 1,375. The decline can be attributed to competition from the Rockbridge County News , first established in 1884 by Samuel J. Graham and Matthew W. Paxton. In 1889, Paxton purchased his partner’s interest in the News, and in 1962 the Paxton family merged the paper with the Lexington Gazette, forming the Lexington News-Gazette.

Provided By: Library of Virginia; Richmond, VA

About this Newspaper


  • Lexington Gazette (Lexington, Va.) 1871-1962

Other Title

  • Lexington gazette and general advertiser
  • Lexington gazette and citizen
  • Gazette

Dates of Publication

  • 1871-1962

Created / Published

  • Lexington, Va. : Lafferty & Co., 1871-1962.


  • -  Lexington (Va.)--Newspapers
  • -  Rockbridge County (Va.)--Newspapers
  • -  Virginia--Lexington
  • -  Virginia--Rockbridge County
  • -  United States--Virginia--Lexington


  • Newspapers


  • -  Weekly
  • -  Vol. 3, no. 41 (Nov. 3, 1871)-v. 161, no. 26 (Jun. 27, 1962).
  • -  "Devoted to the Progressive Upbuilding of Lexington and Rockbridge County."
  • -  Publisher: Barclay & Co. ; J. Scott Moore & Wm. R. Kennedy, <1902-1906>; William R. Kennedy, <1907->; Gazette Pub. Co., Dec. 13, 1933-<1962>.
  • -  Includes Bi-centennial issue Dec. 16, 1938.
  • -  Issue for May 23, 1873 numbered: new ser., v. 5, no. 30; Issue for May 14, 1875 numbered: v. 7, no. 20; Issue for Aug. 28, 1884 numbered: v. 80, no. 37.
  • -  Published Natural Bridge High School supplement called: The Bridge bulletin, <1950>.
  • -  Also issued on microfilm from Bell & Howell, Micro Photo Div.
  • -  Archived issues are available in digital format as part of the Library of Congress Chronicling America online collection.
  • -  Rockbridge county news (DLC)sn 84024651
  • -  News-gazette (Lexington, Va. : 1962) 2641-2888 (DLC)sn 99066821 (OCoLC)17468824


  • volumes : illustrations ; 69-71 cm

Call Number/Physical Location

  • Newspaper

Library of Congress Control Number

  • sn84024716

OCLC Number

  • 11049176

ISSN Number

  • 2157-1287

Preceding Titles

Succeeding Titles

Additional Metadata Formats


Rights & Access

The Library of Congress believes that the newspapers in Chronicling America are in the public domain or have no known copyright restrictions. Newspapers published in the United States more than 95 years ago are in the public domain in their entirety. Any newspapers in Chronicling America that were published less than 95 years ago are also believed to be in the public domain, but may contain some copyrighted third party materials. Researchers using newspapers published less than 95 years ago should be alert for modern content (for example, registered and renewed for copyright and published with notice) that may be copyrighted. Responsibility for making an independent legal assessment of an item and securing any necessary permissions ultimately rests with persons desiring to use the item.

The NEH awardee responsible for producing each digital object is presented in the Chronicling America page display, below the page image – e.g. Image produced by the Library of Congress. For more information on current NDNP awardees, see

For more information on Library of Congress policies and disclaimers regarding rights and reproductions, see

Cite This Item

Citations are generated automatically from bibliographic data as a convenience, and may not be complete or accurate.

Chicago citation style:

Lexington Gazette Lexington, Va. -1962. (Lexington, VA), Jan. 1 1871.

APA citation style:

(1871, January 1) Lexington Gazette Lexington, Va. -1962. Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

MLA citation style:

Lexington Gazette Lexington, Va. -1962. (Lexington, VA) 1 Jan. 1871. Retrieved from the Library of Congress,