The Ottawa Free Trader

Search this Title

About this Title

Title: The Ottawa Free Trader
City: Ottawa, Ill.
County: La Salle
Frequency: Weekly
History: Illinois Free Trader (1840-1841); Illinois Free Trader and LaSalle County Commercial Advertiser (1841-1843); Ottawa Free Trader (1843-1916). Merged with: La Salle County Journal (Ottawa, Ill. : 1892), to form: Weekly Free Trader-Journal (Ottawa, Ill. : 1916).
Available online: 23 May 1840 - 2 August 1890 (2497 issues)

"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)."

1 Tuesday, 1 January 1856
2 Wednesday, 2 January 1856
3 Thursday, 3 January 1856
4 Friday, 4 January 1856
5 Saturday, 5 January 1856
1 issue
6 Sunday, 6 January 1856
7 Monday, 7 January 1856
8 Tuesday, 8 January 1856
9 Wednesday, 9 January 1856
10 Thursday, 10 January 1856
11 Friday, 11 January 1856
12 Saturday, 12 January 1856
1 issue
13 Sunday, 13 January 1856
14 Monday, 14 January 1856
15 Tuesday, 15 January 1856
16 Wednesday, 16 January 1856
17 Thursday, 17 January 1856
18 Friday, 18 January 1856
19 Saturday, 19 January 1856
1 issue
20 Sunday, 20 January 1856
21 Monday, 21 January 1856
22 Tuesday, 22 January 1856
23 Wednesday, 23 January 1856
24 Thursday, 24 January 1856
25 Friday, 25 January 1856
26 Saturday, 26 January 1856
1 issue
27 Sunday, 27 January 1856
28 Monday, 28 January 1856
29 Tuesday, 29 January 1856
30 Wednesday, 30 January 1856
31 Thursday, 31 January 1856