A landmark in Carlisle, the “Mansion House Hotel” operated on the south west corner of West High and Pitt streets from the late 1830s until the 1920s. Inns on that site had housed travelers since the days of the Revolutionary War. The first tavern on the site was kept by James Pollock in the eighteenth century.
Printer, publisher, postmaster, bookseller, paper manufacturer and author, Archibald Loudon was “the most interesting of the early printers and publishers of Carlisle.”1
Archibald, son of James and Christiana Loudon, was reportedly born at sea on August 24, 1754 during his parent’s emigration from Scotland. His father settled in the area of Cumberland County that later became Perry County,2 and where, “in 1765, the Loudon family’s cabin was visited by the famous Indian chieftain Captain John Logan.”3 Loudon described this event in his book Narratives, or Outrages Committed By The Indians, etc…
Loudon opened a bookbindery in Carlisle in 1790,4 and in 1795 he advertised that he was located at the sign of the Bible on High Street.5 In 1802, he was appointed postmaster. He ran the post office out of his store on West High Street where he also sold books and medicines, as well as musical instruments.6
In 1804, he set up his printing press in “a two-storied log structure painted white, and known as “Whitehall,”7 the name he used as his book imprint from 1805 to 1809. Several of the many books published from Loudon’s press include the 1804 and 1805 printing of two volumes of Part II of Hugh Henry Brackenridge’s Modern Chivalry,8considered by scholars to be the first important work of fiction about the American frontier, and “Poems on Various Subjects,” by local poetess Isabella Oliver, also published in 1805.
Loudon is famous for the two-volume work he compiled, wrote, and published, titled A Selection of the Most Interesting Narratives, or Outrages Committed By The Indians in Their Wars With The White People. Also an Account of Their Manners, Customs, Traditions, Religious Sentiments, Mode of Warfare, Military Tactics, Discipline and Encampments, Treatment of Prisoners, &c. which are better explained and more Minutely Related, than has heretofore never before appeared in print. The whole Complied from the best Authorities. He published Volume I in 1808 and Volume II in 1811.
From 1805 until about 1814 Loudon published the “Cumberland Register” newspaper which supported the politics of the Constitutional Republicans.9 By 1816, he had retired from book publishing,10 and at about the same time, he opened a paper manufactory in South Middleton Township (Mt. Holly Springs) in partnership with several others.
By 1818, Loudon was 64-years-old, overwhelmed with debt, and confined in jail. In June, he petitioned the court for the Act of Insolvency. His petition stated that “…the cause of his insolvency was that he embarked in the manufacturing of paper at a time that offered great inducements without any real capital…” He also stated “…that he opened a large and extensive book store, many of the books he sold for 100 per cent less than they cost him…”11 In October 1818, Loudon’s stock of “upwards of 4,000 books,” as well as other property, was sold at a Sheriff’s sale.12
From 1820 onward, tax assessments for Carlisle list Loudon, but with no property,xiii and it is likely that he lived and worked with his son James, also a book seller. Archibald died on August 12, 1840 aged 86 years.13