Campbell students celebrate Civil War editor’s birthday

November 5, 2008 | Leave a Comment

BROADWAY—John McLean Harrington is long gone but Campbell University students recently celebrated his birthday to honor a journalist who handwrote 299 newspapers between 1858 and 1869.

            Students in a Mass Communication Research Methods class studied Harrington, a little-known Harnett County journalist, as part of their research during the fall semester. Harrington was born 169 years ago on Nov. 2, 1839. As part of their class, the students decided to celebrate Harrington’s birthday.           

“John McL is like a member of the family,” said Melinda Jackson, a mass communication student who organized the event. “We’ve come to admire him.”

This year is the 150th anniversary of John McLean Harrington’s first handwritten newspapers in 1858. Harrington handwrote The Nation and The Young American in 1858, 150 years ago.

The students joined Dr. Anthony Harrington, a descendant of Harrington and a history professor, and J. B. Cameron, a descendant of Harrington and an educator, at Harrington’s gravesite at Mt. Pisgah Presbyterian Church. Harrington was born less than a mile from Mt. Pisgah Presbyterian Church and spent his life in Harnett County.

Harrington worked near the church in an area that was once known as Harrington, the location of the defunct post office and the place Harrington handwrote his newspapers that included local, state, national and international news, short stories, poetry, humor and display advertisements—all handwritten and copied between 30 and 100 times.

“John McL was a brilliant man who spent time teaching and today our family is still involved in education,” said J. B. Cameron, who lives about a mile from the Mt. Pisgah Church in Western Harnett County.

 “John McLean Harrington changed political parties many times and today Harringtons are split along party lines,” Dr. Harrington told the students as part of the celebration.

Research Methods students Amanda Johnson, Brittany Judd, Carole Laughton, Renee Johnson, Meredith Brunson, Melinda Jackson, Sara McCarthy, Sara Mears and Tyler Wood participated in the celebration, which included a birthday cake at the church. Students read from Harrington’s newspapers to honor a journalist who worked as post-master, farmer and teacher.

Students from the Research Methods class also contributed to a scholarly book that is slated for publication by University Press of America in 2009.

Harrington died April 3, 1887, a few months before Harnett County’s first machine-printed newspaper began with The Dunn Signboard.

 Photo Copy: Campbell students and educators recently celebrated the birthday of journalist John McLean Harrington at Mt. Pisgah Presbyterian Church in Western Harnett County. Harrington handwrote 299 newspapers between 1858 and 1869. From left, back row, is Sara McCarthy, Brittany Judd, Professor Michael Ray Smith, descendants J. B. Cameron and Dr. Anthony Harrington, Amanda Johnson, Sara Mears, Meredith Brunson and Tyler Wood, front row, from left, Renee Johnson, Carole Laughton and Melinda Jackson, the student who organized the event.