Many of our readers should be aware that the Osprey Courier-Gazette emerged out of the 1850 merger of the Osprey City Courier and the Osprey Daily Gazette. Since then, it has been the paper of note in Osprey City and the Osprey Bay area. We are fortunate that both this paper and its predecessors kept comprehensive archives, so that the history of our city and nation would not be lost.
It has been a dream of this paper to make those archives available to the public online, at no charge. Thanks to a generous donation from the Wood Foundation, that dream is quickly becoming a reality. Over the past year, our archivists at the Osprey Courier-Gazette have been busy digitizing past issues. In honor of this project, we will be presenting select issues from our archives for special presentation here on our website.
Our first entry in this series is also one of our earliest. Until 1780, the Osprey City Courier was called the Osprey Weekly Courier. It was the first newspaper in Osprey City, and was founded in 1730 by Benjamin McGrath, a printer operating out of his shop on Taylor Street. This particular issue reports on many of the happenings in Osprey in July of 1775, but also contains reports from across the colonies regarding the Battle of Bunker Hill in Charlestown (June 17, 1775). The second page contains advertisements and notifications from many residents of Osprey and the surrounding area. Residents might be surprised by what they find for sale in the area at that time, and a lucky few might see names they recognize as members of their own family!
We hope you enjoy this series, and we sincerely thank the Wood Foundation for making this possible.
Osprey Weekly Courier – July 3, 1775
It appears that attics hold more than just old dresses and your brother’s baseball card collection. This past weekend, Bill Cupp uncovered Osprey City history cleaning out his mother’s attic on Elwood Lane. Tucked away between old deeds and stacked paintings, Cupp found a map of the Osprey area dated 1630. The lucky discoverer quickly contacted experts at Osprey University, who took possession of the document and tested it for authenticity. Today, the archival documents department of the university announced that the map indeed dated back to the early 17th century.
“We are astounded by the condition of the document,” commented Amanda Lee, archivist at Osprey University. “The ink is in surprising condition, with little evidence of oxidization. Whoever owned this map originally took special care of it.” University archivists have decided to store the map in a climate-controlled space while they acquire an appropriate display case. The archive was, however, able to provide a high-quality scan for public use.
Prof. Ian Hannigan, an expert in colonial American history, said that the map provided valuable insight into what Osprey City, or what was then called the “Town of Osprey,” looked like at its founding. “The town is depicted as generally surrounded by forests, which gels with what we have read in early written accounts of the area,” explained Prof. Hannigan. “The map also helps us date some of the place names in the Osprey area, such as Brittany Cove and Lake Powcotowet.” Certain farms outlying the town were also named in the map, and provide clues to the names of other parts of modern-day Osprey City. For example, Henry St. is named after the Henry farm, located just north of the colonial village. The map also shows that the First Congregationalist Church of Osprey occupies the same space as the original church built by Pilgrim settlers.
“What remains a mystery, however,” commented Hannigan, “is why the cartographer marked certain locations on the map that aren’t particularly important, such as the homes of E. and D. Woode and W. Thatcher.” Hannigan hypothesized that the individuals might have sponsored the cartographer, or one of them might have been the map-maker themselves. “Unfortunately, without a name to ascribe the work to, I’m afraid we will never know who created this map.” Once safely in a display case, the map will be displayed to the public at the Osprey University library, the centerpiece of an exhibit on Pilgrim Osprey City.