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Newspaper The Ottawa Free Trader (Ottawa, Ill.) 1843-1916 Publisher's box: Free trader,

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About The Ottawa Free Trader (Ottawa, Ill.) 1843-1916

The seat of LaSalle County in Illinois, Ottawa is located at the confluence of the Fox and Illinois Rivers. Ottawa was the site of the first Lincoln-Douglas debate on August 21, 1858, and a report of that day’s events, held in Washington Square, and their aftermath appears in the Ottawa Free Trader.

The origins of the paper go back to May 23, 1840, when George F. Weaver and John Hise launched a four-page Democratic weekly paper, the Illinois Free Trader. Its motto was “Our Country, her Commerce, and her Free Institutions.” The following year, the newspaper’s name was changed to the Illinois Free Trader and LaSalle County Commercial Advertiser and in 1843, to the Ottawa Free Trader. The latter continued publication until 1916, when it merged with the La Salle County Journal to form the Weekly Free Trader-Journal.

No one was more closely associated with the Ottawa Free Trader than William Osman. In 1840, Osman began working for Weaver and Hise, and in 1842, he bought Weaver’s interest in the newspaper. In 1889, Osman launched a daily edition of the Free Trader, which was the forerunner to Ottawa’s current daily newspaper, the Daily Times.

When the Mexican-American War broke out, William Osman and his brother Moses enlisted in the army and together published the Picket Guard, a short-lived Army camp newspaper in Saltillo, Mexico. Meanwhile, back in Illinois, John Hise ran the Free Trader in their absence. In 1848, Moses Osman, bought out Hise, and the two brothers managed the paper together. In 1856, Moses left, leaving William Osman as sole proprietor of the Free Trader. In 1867, Osman partnered with Douglas Hapeman. When the latter retired in 1888, Osman, together with his sons, ran the newspaper.

The most famous of the Ottawa Free Trader‘s writers was Alonzo Delano, known by the pen name of Old Block. At the request of publishers William and Moses Osman, Delano traveled to California with the 49ers and sent correspondence detailing his journey (1849-1852). Delano’s travel journal appeared in the Free Trader and gave birth to “California Humor,” a style that was influential amongst his contemporaries, including Mark Twain and Bret Harte. Characteristic was Delano’s letter from California dated March 2, 1850: “… I made one happy discovery…that temperance societies are not needed in those elevated ranges, that it is wholly useless to preach temperance principle upon those mountain peaks…” (Irving McKee, Alonzo Delano’s California correspondence; being letters hitherto uncollected from the Ottawa (Illinois) Free Trader and the New Orleans True Delta, 1849-1852, 1952).

Provided By: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library, Urbana, IL

About this Newspaper


  • The Ottawa Free Trader (Ottawa, Ill.) 1843-1916

Other Title

  • Publisher's box: Free trader,


  • Delano, Alonzo, 1806-1874, contributor

Dates of Publication

  • 1843-1916

Created / Published

  • Ottawa, Ill. : John Hise & William Osman, 1843-1916.
  • Ottawa, Ill. : Wm. & M. Osman
  • Ottawa, Ill. : Osman & Hapeman
  • Ottawa, Ill. : William Osman
  • Ottawa, Ill. : Wm. & M. Osman
  • Ottawa, Ill. : Moses Osman
  • Ottawa, Ill. : W. [Wm.] Osman
  • Ottawa, Ill. : G. & J. Avery
  • Ottawa, Ill. : Wm. Osman & Co.
  • Ottawa, Ill. : Wm. Osman & Son[s]


  • -  Ottawa (Ill.)--Newspapers
  • -  La Salle County (Ill.)--Newspapers
  • -  Illinois--La Salle County
  • -  Illinois--Ottawa
  • -  United States--Illinois--La Salle County--Ottawa


  • Newspapers


  • -  Weekly, Nov. 11, 1882-
  • -  Vol. 4, no. 16 (Oct. 6, 1843)-
  • -  Ceased in Nov. 1916.
  • -  "Our country -- her commerce -- and her free institutions."
  • -  June 20, 1845 is an Extra issue and lacks numbering.
  • -  Not published Dec. 22, 1848.
  • -  Various incorrect chronological, vol., issue, and page numbering designation.
  • -  Has occasional supplements.
  • -  Also issued on microfilm; Micro Photo, Inc., Cleveland, Ohio.
  • -  Archived issues are available in digital format as part of the Library of Congress Chronicling America online collection.
  • -  Daily ed.: Ottawa free trader (Ottawa, Ill. : Daily), Oct. 15, 1889-Nov. 12, 1916.
  • -  Merged with: La Salle County journal, to form: Weekly free trader-journal.
  • -  Latest issue consulted: Dec. 25, 1914.
  • -  Salle County journal (DLC)sn 92053190 (OCoLC)25756824
  • -  Weekly free trader-journal (DLC)sn 92053238 (OCoLC)25756957


  • volumes : illustrations

Call Number/Physical Location

  • Newspaper

Library of Congress Control Number

  • sn84038582

OCLC Number

  • 11347496

ISSN Number

  • 2328-5990

Preceding Titles

Succeeding Titles

Additional Metadata Formats


Rights & Access

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Cite This Item

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

Chicago citation style:

The Ottawa Free Trader Ottawa, Ill. -1916. (Ottawa, IL), Jan. 1 1843.

APA citation style:

(1843, January 1) The Ottawa Free Trader Ottawa, Ill. -1916. Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

MLA citation style:

The Ottawa Free Trader Ottawa, Ill. -1916. (Ottawa, IL) 1 Jan. 1843. Retrieved from the Library of Congress,