The rise of cheap, sensational newspapers in the nineteenth century meant that shocking scandals weren’t just whispered about behind fluttering fans and raised teacups. Ordinary members of the public could sit down at the breakfast table and over tea and toast, read every juicy, salacious, delicious detail of who did what and to whom.
Sadly, Honey Boo Boo wouldn’t be born for another century-plus, so reading newspapers, penny press publications, and scandal sheets was a way for the public to sate its appetite for the disturbing, the sinful, the extraordinary, and the downright ugly– and in small towns it wreaked havoc with regular to day life.
Perth Courier, December 31, 1897
To the Editor of the Perth Courier—
Will you allow me space enough in your valuable paper to correct a mistake or I suppose what you would say was more of a slur than a mistake of what the party or parties say in the Wemyss news that Mr. J. Bowes visited my place. I must say that gentleman is a man I have never seen for several months. I must say that I excuse the one who put it in for God gave some of them around Wemyss so little learning and less sense that ignorance has to be over looked. I take public steps to correct this but the next will be costly ones. Thanking you for your space, Mrs. John O’Brien
Wemyss: J. Bowes assures us that the Wemyss correspondent was in error when he stated that he (Mr. Bowes) was a visitor in that neighborhood; and Mr. P. Brady informs us that the statement that he was visiting was equally untrue. It is to be regretted that correspondents in furnishing news items are not more careful to ascertain the truth of their statements and thus avoid annoyance which this inaccuracy often occasions.
Perth Courier, Oct. 15, 1897
Wemyss: The home of W. J. Blair was made double happy by the advent of a young daughter.
Wemyss: Visitors—Mr. and Mrs. Peter Dowdall at John O’Neill’s; T. B. Palmer is at present boarding at James Tysick’s’ Messrs. P. Noonan and J. Bowes at Mrs. John O’Brien’s; and P. Brady and Mr. Buchanan at Mrs. B. Richards.