“There is a newspaper published in Lumberton, which is the largest town in Robeson County and the county seat, named the Robesonian. It is an old paper — it was a hundred years old several years ago — that prints news from all over the county. Shortly after I came to New York City, I subscribed to the Robesonian, out of homesickness, and I still subscribe to it; it is as necessary to me and as much a part of my life as the New York Times….”
— From “Days in the Branch: Remembering the South in the city” by Joseph Mitchell in The New Yorker (Dec. 1)
In this second and apparently final chapter of Mitchell’s unfinished memoir, he happens onto the 1790 census and finds countless names he still sees on trips back to Robeson County — “on the fronts of stores and filling stations and sawmills and cotton gins and tobacco warehouses and on the sides of trucks and on roadside mailboxes and on miscellaneous roadside signs.”
His deep dive into the minutiae-packed pages of the Robesonian will stir nostalgia in anyone who has ever subscribed to a small-town paper.
Here’s an excerpt from a previous chapter in The New Yorker.