What’s The News?

As we say farewell to an Ashland staple, I started to think about Ashland’s history with newspapers. I never thought about this topic before, guess it is something that I took for granted. I remember seeing the Ashland Tab around town as a child.  When I was in college my mother used to mail me clippings of Directions– It was always nice to catch up on hometown news. My favorite column was…Stories of Ashland…who would have guessed?!    

Our newspaper history begins on August 7, 1869. You could purchase a copy of the weekly publication of the Ashland Advertiser for 5¢, a six month subscription for $1.00, or a full year subscription for $2.00. The Ashland Advertiser was created by George W. Morse (lawyer) and H.Homer Tilton (jeweler). Morse and Tilton wanted a platform to advertise their businesses and Ashland needed a newspaper, so the Advertiser was born!

It was a lot of work peddling subscriptions and acquiring advertisements. Kay Powers found a fantastic story about Mr. Tilton asking an old lady in town for a subscription. The old woman said “Why, Homer, I have always known you and I ought to have a copy for nothing.” “And she got it too,” says Mr. Tilton, “ as my cheek failed me when met with that argument.” Mainly filled with advertisements, the paper had an editorial section, obituaries, and stories from around town.

Originally printed in Boston for the first few months, production would eventually move to Ashland. Remember we are talking about a hand printing press. The Advertiser would change hands in 1879 when Morse and Tilton sold the paper to Walker and Mayhew, who were editors and publishers. The office moved across the street to the Coburn and Enslin Building (located on the site of the current Post Office). The Advertiser would be printed in town until 1886.

Under editor, Edgar Potter, the paper was moved to South Framingham and was printed by the Lakeview Printing Co. Lakeview also printed the Holliston Transcript, Framingham Gazette, and the Ashland Advertiser. The last edition of the Advertizer was printed on November 14, 1913.

Ashland Tribune had a very short run. First published in 1912, it was a weekly publication that ran until 1914. It was printed in South Framingham.

Ashland Directions or “Directions” as it is often referred to, began in 1974, with the Ashland Educational Community Center (AECC) located at Ashland High School (when it was on West Union- I still call it “The High School”). Hand typed and pieced together, the AECC wanted a “non-political” paper that would get community news out to Ashland residents. Steve Leacu wrote about the AECC in a previous edition, he said: “The AECC is largely credited to the efforts of David Magnani, who wanted to provide community educational programs that would be available to everyone, for free. A sample of the Adult Enrichment Programs offered by AECC included “Beginners Spanish II,” “The Art of Cooking,” “Getting to Know European Wines,” “Learning Chess,” “Law for Laymen,” and “Beginners Auto Repair.” Keeping in mind that cable didn’t exist in 1974, Ashland Directions was the logical choice of AECC for getting the word out.”

The layout would evolve over the years, from the original hand typed 8.5 x 11 format into to a more traditional tabloid style. After 13 years and countless volunteer hours the publication stopped in 1985. Thankfully, Evelyn Gates, a retired Ashland school teacher, resumed the publication of Directions in 1986. Al Porter became the volunteer editor in January, 2003 and the publisher in August, 2009. The September edition of that year was the first edition to be published completely “electronic” using Adobe’s Creative Suite’ InDesign software – farewell cut and paste!!

At last, The Tab first hit the stands in the 1988 as a weekly publication. The Tab would eventually go on-line and become Wicked Local Ashland. Learn something new everyday.

Thank you for taking this final walk down memory lane with me. It has been a pleasure writing Stories of Ashland this year; I hope you have enjoyed them. The Ashland Historical Society will be publishing stories on our blog at ashlandhistsoc.com. Stop by our website and check them out! Or email us questions! OR (better yet) become a member of the Society!! No prior history of Ashland needed, we can always use the help, and love meeting new people! Finally, thank you Directions for all your hard work over the years and for making your mark on Ashland’s rich history. We will miss you!

Jennifer Lecesse

Ashland Directions

July 2018


Steve Leacu for Ashland Directions, Directions and the AECC, February 2011

Kay Power, Ashland Directions, The Ashland advertiser, January 1980

Higley, History of Middlesex County, Pg. 562.