The Long Island Courier2 (weekly), the second paper established on Long Island,3 commenced June 26, 1799, by Thomas Kirk.4

1 In the preparation of this chapter, we have drawn largely upon a very minute sketch of the Local Press of Brooklyn, by Mr. W. A. Chandos Fulton, in the Brooklyn Standard.

2 Furman gives the title of this paper as The Courier and New York and Long Island Advertizer, but Mr. Fulton says that “all the copies and documents relating to it, which he has seen, bear the title of the Long Island Courier.”

3 The first was the Long Island Herald, published at Sag Harbor, Long Island, by Daniel Frothingham, in 1791 ; afterwards, 1802, as the Suffolk County Herald, by Selleck Osborne, and then as Suffolk County Gazette, by Alden Spooner, until 1811, when he removed to Brooklyn and took the Long Island Star.

4 Mr. Kirk kept a small job printing office on the corner of Old Ferry (now Fulton) and Front streets. He is supposed to have come to Brooklyn about the close of the revolution, and proposed to p ublish this paper in the summer of 1798 ; but, on account of the lukewarm reception given to the project, postponed its issue until 1799. A shilling pamphlet edition of Maj. Gen. Lee’s funeral oration in honor of Gen. Washington, in December, 1799, was the first book published from Kirk’s press in Brooklyn. In 1809, Mr. Kirk commenced the Long Island Star, and removed his job printing establishment to Main street, next door to Rapelye & Mooney’s dry goods store. Here he opened a large stationery and book store, which he kept well supplied with the publications of the day, together with a fine assortment of standard works. Besides conducting his paper (which he did with much ability), he issued several publications and reprints; and, notwithstanding his subsequent failures, which may probably be ascribed to a restless disposition rather than to any dearth of patronage, he seems to have done, for the times, a good general business. In 1811, he sold the Star to Alden Spooner, and his store to Messrs. Pray & Bowen; and retired from editorship and newspaper publishing altogether. He devoted himself to his job printing office, which he removed to Fulton, just above Front street. About this time, he published a History of the Adventures and Suferings of Moses Smith in the Miranda Expedition, etc., etc., at the expense of the author’s brother, ex-mayor Samuel Smith of this city, a curious little volume, now very rare. A very pleasing portraiture of Brooklyn’s first printer, hag been given by Garrett Furman, Esq., in his little volume entitled, Long Island Miscellanies, by Rusticus, Gent (p. 64): “When I was a small boy, while on my way to school one morning, I stopped a few moments in the harvest field where my father, elder brother and others, were at work. While I was standing with my satchel hanging on my arm, we saw a person upon the road slight from a black horse, with saddle bags on, while we all stood wondering; what his business could be, no one could say or imagine. He soon approached the party, holding in his hand a bundle of folded papers; he advanced, and was received by my father with the usual courtesy of stranger’s meeting.  *  *  I thought him to be a sheriff, perhaps. He proved to be a fine looking and well spoken man, whose business was to inform my father that he was about establishing a newspaper in Brooklyn, and wished to get subscribers among the farmers and others. Neither said one word about politics, that I recollect of, but he descanted largely on the price current for grain, hay, stock and all kinds of produce. With this be formed a sheet as a sample of the style the paper would appear on. The price current seemed to take pretty well with father; but, I recollect perfectly well, he did not like (in those humble times) to incur the expense. The yearly subscription I do not at present recollect ;-however, after a short hesitation the old gentleman consented to become a subscriber, for which Thomas Kirk, for him it was, thanked him very politely; and after inquiring of him which of his neighbors were most likely to subscribe to the Long Island Star, he bowed and wished all a good morning and soon remounted his black pony and rode off, while my father and the rest resumed their labors. When I returned from school in the afternoon, the paper was lying upon the table, which I seized with great eagerness; but all seemed uninteresting, until I came to the advertisements, and here were pictures of houses for sale, fine stud horses, and stolen horses, and cows strayed; and to crown all, a little runaway negro, while in ecstacy I exclaimed, “Mother, there goes Uncle Casper’s little Toney!” and I doubt whether old Faust himself felt more gratification when he beheld his first printed page of the Bible, than I did when on perusing the Long Island Star for the first time.”

Mr. Kirk lived to a good old age, was identified with all the prominent local movements of his day, and was followed to the grave by the respect of all who knew the value of his unobtrusive, but exceedingly useful life.

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