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Newspaper Free Trader-Journal (Ottawa, Ill.) 1916-1920 Ottawa free trader-journal / Ottawa free trader / Ottawa journal / Free trader journal / Ottawa free trader journal

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About Free Trader-Journal (Ottawa, Ill.) 1916-1920

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


  • Free Trader-Journal (Ottawa, Ill.) 1916-1920

Other Title

  • Ottawa free trader-journal
  • Ottawa free trader
  • Ottawa journal
  • Free trader journal
  • Ottawa free trader journal

Dates of Publication

  • 1916-1920

Created / Published

  • Ottawa, Ill. : Free Trader-Journal PTG. Co., 1916-1920.


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


  • Newspapers


  • -  Daily (except Sunday and federal holidays)
  • -  Vol. 1, no. 1 (Nov. 13, 1916)-v. 4, no. 65 (Mar. 6, 1920).
  • -  Irregular number of pages published per issue.
  • -  Issue for Mar. 24, 1917 called also "Easter Edition."
  • -  Issues for Dec. 19, 1917 and Dec. 19, 1918 called also "Christmas Number."
  • -  Various incorrect numbering and chronological designation.
  • -  Archived issues are available in digital format from the Library of Congress Chronicling America online collection.
  • -  Formed by the union of: Ottawa free trader (Ottawa, Ill. : Daily) and: Daily journal (Ottawa, Ill.).
  • -  Merged with: Ottawa fair dealer, to form: Free trader-journal and Ottawa fair dealer.
  • -  Ottawa fair dealer (DLC)sn 92053195 (OCoLC)25758376
  • -  Free trader-journal and Ottawa fair dealer (DLC)sn 92053241 (OCoLC)25758451


  • volumes : illustrations, portraits, maps

Call Number/Physical Location

  • Newspaper

Library of Congress Control Number

  • sn92053240

OCLC Number

  • 25758405

ISSN Number

  • 2381-389x

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.

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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:

Free Trader-Journal Ottawa, Ill. -1920. (Ottawa, IL), Jan. 1 1916.

APA citation style:

(1916, January 1) Free Trader-Journal Ottawa, Ill. -1920. Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

MLA citation style:

Free Trader-Journal Ottawa, Ill. -1920. (Ottawa, IL) 1 Jan. 1916. Retrieved from the Library of Congress,