“Conversations with the Court House Deer”

Conversations with the Court House Deer: Timely thoughts on local matters is a book about articles written in the 1880s by a young reporter who “interviewed” the life-size iron deer on the courthouse lawn in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.

The deer statue on the lawn of the Luzerne County Courthouse has been a part of Wilkes-Barre since 1867 and has been the subject of photos with fellow Wilkes-Barreans for over a hundred years. But in the 1880s-1890s, he was the subject of a newspaper column, in which he discussed local matters.

Ernest Hanson was a young reporter who emigrated from England when he created a column for the Wilkes-Barre News-Dealer about the Court House Deer. His first article was in November 1888, and in it the reporter is startled to be spoken to by the deer on the courthouse lawn. The Court House Deer is wise, occasionally sarcastic and often funny. He gives his sometimes scathing opinions about current events and local politicians and doesn’t even spare the reporter himself. The following is a quote from one of the articles:

July 6, 1889: (The Deer talking to the reporter) “…Any man who can transform himself into so vast and unmitigated an ass is deserving of the highest popular recognition…[but] Don’t get mad about it,” said the Deer, “for let me tell you, it takes a smart man to make a really first-class ass of himself…”

The Deer is equally unflattering about other newspaper men, politicians, and the wealthy and powerful who appear to be abusing their power.

Conversations with the Court House Deer” has several photos of people mentioned in the articles, a brief history of the Luzerne County Courthouse, the Deer, and the reporter, and an appendix with brief descriptions of the people mentioned in the articles. The book is 8 1/2 x 11, 300 pages, black & white.