Sag Harbor cemented itself long ago in American history as an early colonial whaling port, the site of an American Revolution skirmish and, later, as a factory town of significance and historic district with many sites on the National Register of Historic Places. Now, Sag Harbor has also been formally recognized as the home of a fledgling Long Island publishing industry.
The Press Club of Long Island, a local chapter of the national Society of Professional Journalists, on Wednesday installed a historic roadside marker recognizing the site where Long Island’s first newspaper, Frothingham’s Long-Island Herald, was launched in 1791.
“Over the last few years, the press club has worked hard to recognize places of historical significance in journalism on Long Island,” Chris R. Vaccaro, president of the Press Club of Long Island, said in a statement. “This is yet another example of our board aiming to educate the public on local history.”
He thanked the Sag Harbor Historical Society, which pitched in with the research and resources needed to have the historical marker installed at the correct location.
According to Jack Youngs, president of the historical society, David Frothingham’s Herald began printing several years before the next newspaper, The Long Island Weekly Intelligencer in Brooklyn, officially popped up.
“To have the first newspaper that was printed on Long Island is what many locals proudly say is ‘A Feather in Our Cap,’” Mr. Youngs, who is the great-great-grandson of Mr. Frothingham, said in a statement.
A handful of publications sprang up in Sag Harbor after Frothingham’s Long-Island Herald folded, but it wasn’t until The Corrector was established in 1822 that Sag Harbor had a reliable weekly newspaper. The Sag Harbor Express, of course, began printing in 1859. In 1919 another newspaper, Sag Harbor News, purchased what had at that point become the Sag Harbor Corrector, and became the Sag Harbor News and Corrector. That publication was eventually purchased by The Express in the late 1920s.
The Press Club of Long Island has also installed roadside markers in Roslyn Harbor recognizing William Cullen Bryant, who edited The New York Evening Post from 1829 to 1878; in Huntington to commemorate Walt Whitman and The Long Islander; and in Hempstead Village at the location where Newsday first began printing in 1940.
David Frothingham published Frothingham’s Long-Island Herald from 1791 to 1796 and his wife, Nancy Pell, who was from a prominent Westchester family, ran it until 1802, after he ran afoul of then-Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton. According to the Sag Harbor Historical Society, Mr. Hamilton had accused Mr. Frothingham of slander based on an article not published in the Herald but rather in a Brooklyn newspaper, the Argus. He was found guilty and fined $100, and a bond of $2,500 was set by the court to ensure he would not publish anything libelous ever again. However, Mr. Frothingham could not pay the bond and became a seaman to earn the money, and it is said no one truly knows how he perished.