Tuesday, March 26, 2019

The Locomotive

Treasures from the Kellenberger Room

Featuring books, pamphlets, photographs, documents, and the occasional object from the collections of the New Bern-Craven County Public Library

by John B. Green III

New Bern has seen more than fifty newspapers published over the years from James Davis’s North Carolina Gazette of 1751 to the Sun Journal of today.  The Kellenberger Room maintains a microfilm library of most of these papers as well as access to internet collections of New Bern and North Carolina newspapers.  We also have original issues of some of these papers including bound volumes of the early-19th century Carolina Centinel and scattered issues of other 19th and 20th century New Bern papers.  These are generally not available for research because of their fragile condition and patrons are referred to the microfilm or internet editions.

One of the most interesting of the original New Bern newspapers in our collection is the only issue known to survive of a humor and literary newspaper entitled The Locomotive.   Published in New Bern in 1856 by A.R. Raven, editor and proprietor, it bears the image of an early locomotive above the slightly alarming mottos “Cry aloud and Spare not” and “Let Justice be done though a Thousand fall!”  A prospectus published on page three proclaims The Locomotive to be “a lively newspaper, published in Newbern, semi-monthly, on a sheet containing 16 columns” and “will always contain the best of tales, anecdotes, poetry original and selected, witty Editorials, &c., &c.,  - It is the intention of the proprietor to make the ‘Locomotive’ a welcome visitor in every circle, and to carry cheerfulness to the gloomiest hearth.”  Editor Raven may have chosen the name Locomotive as a nod to the 1855 chartering of the Atlantic and North Carolina Railroad which would bring regular rail travel to New Bern in 1858.

The identity of A.R. Raven, editor and proprietor, has not been determined, although it is possible that he may have been the Alexander R. Raven (1838-1901), North Carolina Methodist minister, whose mother Elizabeth A. Caraway was from New Bern.  Raven was converted “while a young man” at a revival at New Bern’s Centenary Methodist Church and entered the ministry in 1860.  If he was the editor of The Locomotive he would have been about eighteen years old at the time, perhaps accounting for the level of “humor” displayed therein.