Newspapers.In the winter of 1833-34 Jotham Meeker set up a printing press at the Shawnee Baptist mission, in what is now Johnson county, Kan. It was an old-fashioned press of the most primitive type, operated by hand, and was used by Mr. Meeker for printing books and tracts in the Indian language. On March 1, 1835, he published the first number of the Shaw-wau-nowe Kesauthwau (Shawnee Sun), which was the first newspaperif it can properly be called suchever printed within the limits of the present State of Kansas. It is not known how many numbers of this paper were published by Mr. Meeker, as it was issued at irregular intervals, under great difficulties, and probably never had a regular paid subscription list.
The first newspaper in the English language was the Leavenworth Herald, which made its appearance on Sept. 15, 1854. The type for the initial number was set under an old elm tree on the levee near the corner of Cherokee street. William H. Adams and Lucien J. Eastin were the proprietors and publishers, the latter being the editor. The Herald was a strong pro-slavery advocate. Holloway says: "Its tone was at first upright and manly, but it soon gave way to party pressure, and became very ultra and bitterly partisan." Early in the year 1859, William H. Gill, a military storekeeper at Fort Leavenworth, purchased an interest in the paper and assumed the editorial management. Associated with him in this work was Ward Burlingame. A daily edition was started on May 17, 1859, and under the new control the political policy of the paper was much more conservative. In 1860 it urged the nomination of Stephen A. Douglas by the Democratic party for the presidency. Some time in the spring or summer of that year the Herald was acquired by W. P. Fain, formerly United States marshal, and in the fall it passed into the hands of R. C. Satterlee, B. R. Wilson and C. W. Helm. In June, 1861, Mr. Satterlee was shot and killed by Col. Anthony, and on June 27 the Herald expired.
About the time the Leavenworth Herald appeared, John and Joseph L. Speer prepared the copy for a free-state paper, to be called the Kansas Pioneer. Being without type or press, they took their manuscript to a paper in Kansas City called the Enterprise, which was edited by Judge Story, a rank pro-slavery man, who refused to print the paper. They then tried to get Adams & Eastin of the Leavenworth Herald to print an issue, but were again refused. John Speer then went to his old home at Medina, Ohio, where the first number was printed, though it bore the date of "Lawrence, Kan. Ter., Oct. 15, 1854." Upon his return from Ohio, Speer found out that a pro-slavery paper published at Kickapoo had adopted the name "Pioneer," so he changed the name of his paper to the Kansas Tribune, the first number of which was published at Lawrence dated Jan. 5, 1855. S. N. Wood became a partner, and in Nov., 1855, the Tribune was removed to Topeka. In Feb., 1857, Speer sold out to Ross Bros., who returned in Sept., 1858, and were succeeded by Shepherd & Cummings. Under various owners and editors, the Tribune continued until 1868, when it suspended publication.
In connection with the Tribune there is an interesting and thrilling bit of Kansas history, and that was the publication of what is known as "John Speer's Defy." The first territorial legislature passed a law providing that any person writing, printing or publishing any denial of the right to hold slaves in the Territory of Kansas should be subject to imprisonment for not less than two years, and fixed the 15th of Sept., 1855, as the date when the law should go into effect. On that day Mr. Speer devoted a full page of the Tribune to his "Defy," which was printed in display type under the headline: "The Day of Our Enslavement!!" This was followed by the section of the law inflicting the penalty of imprisonment, after which Mr. Speer continued: "Now we do assert and we declare, despite all the bolts and bars of the iniquitous legislature of Kansas, that persons have not the right to hold slaves in this territory. And we will emblazon it upon our banner in letters so large and language so plain that the infatuated invaders who elected the Kansas legislature, as well as that corrupt and ignorant legislature itself, may understand itso that, if they cannot read, they may spell it out, and meditate and deliberate upon it; and we hold that the man who fails to utter this self-evident truth, on account of the insolent enactment alluded to, is a poltroon and a slave, worse than the black slaves of our persecutors and oppressors. The constitution of the United States, the great Magna Charta of American liberties, guarantees to every citizen the liberty of speech and the freedom of the press! And this is the first time in the history of America that a body claiming legislative powers has dared to attempt to wrest them from the people. And it is not only the right, but the bounden duty of every freeman to spurn with contempt and trample under foot an enactment which thus basely violates the right of freemen. For our part we do and shall continue to utter this truth so long as we have the power of utterance, and nothing but the brute force of an overpowering tyranny can prevent us."
On Oct. 21, 1854, appeared the first number of the Herald of Freedom. It was issued by G. W. Brown and was dated at Wakarusa, Kan., though it was printed in Pennsylvania. The second number was published at Lawrence on Jan. 6, 1855. Cutler says: "The Herald of Freedom was the first paper printed as a Kansas paper, and the first paper printed at Lawrence, although the date of its second issue, the first printed on Kansas soil, was later than that of the Tribune, as the latter was antedated."
Cutler's statement that the second issue of the Herald of Freedom was the first paper "printed on Kansas soil" is obviously an error, as the fact is well established that the Leavenworth Herald was printed on Kansas soil the previous September. There seems to be some controversy as to which was really the first paper printed in Lawrence. Josiah Miller and R. G. Elliott issued the first number of the Kansas Free State some time in Jan., 1855, and a writer in the Kansas Historical Collections (vol. 10, p. 191) says it was the first paper published in Lawrence.
The offices of both the Herald of Freedom and the Free State were destroyed by the raid of May 21, 1856. The latter was revived by Mr. Elliott and published for a short time at Delaware. The Herald of Freedom was reëstablished in Nov., 1856, and was published without intermission until in 1869, when it suspended.
In the meantime the Kickapoo Pioneer, a rabid pro-slavery paper, began its existence in Nov., 1854, with A. B. Hazzard as editor and proprietor. This was the paper that appropriated the name John Speer had selected for the Kansas Tribune. The Pioneer continued for some three years, when it perished for want of support, the fate that often befalls a newspaper in a new country.
On Feb. 3, 1855, Dr. John H. Stringfellow and Robert S. Kelly issued at Atchison the first number of the Squatter Sovereign, a paper with strong pro-slavery sentiments. It had formerly been published at Liberty, Mo., under the name of the Democratic Platform. In the spring of 1857 it was purchased by S. C. Pomeroy, Robert McBratney and F. G. Adams, who changed its policy and published it as a free-state paper until the fall of the same year, when Mr. Pomeroy became the sole owner. Soon afterward he sold the paper to O. F. Short, who in turn sold it in Feb., 1858, to John A. Martin. Mr. Martin changed the name to the Atchison Champion and on March 22, 1865, began the publication of a daily edition. On Aug. 11, 1868, the paper was consolidated with the Free Press, which had been established by F. G. Adams in May, 1864, and the name Champion and Press was adopted, with John A. Martin and Frank A. Root as publishers. Mr. Root retired in the spring of 1869. Subsequently the word Press was dropped and the publication continued under the old name of Champion.
The Kansas Freeman first appeared on July 4, 1855. It was pubished at Topeka by E. C. K. Garvey, who issued a daily evening edition during the sittings of the Topeka constitutional convention. The Freeman expired in the spring of 1856. Another paper that began its existence in 1855 was the Southern Kansan, a Democratic sheet, the first number of which was issued at Fort Scott some time in August. It lived but a short time, and the proprietor's name seems to have been forgotten. The Territorial Register was also started at Leavenworth in 1855. It was published by Sevier & Delahay, the latter being the editor, and the first number was issued in March. Although a free-state paper with conservative tendencies, it succeeded in arousing the animosity of the pro-slavery element, and on the night of Dec. 22, 1855, the office was practically demolished by an organization called the "Kickapoo Rangers," the type, etc., being thrown into the Missouri river.
Several new papers were launched in the year 1856, the most important ones being the Lecompton Union, the Leavenworth Journal and the Doniphan Constitutionalist. The Lecompton Union was founded in the spring by Jones & Faris, but the latter was soon succeeded by a man named Bennett. It suspended in 1861, when the outfit was removed to Marysville. The Leavenworth Journal was established about the same time as the Union by Col. S. S. Goode. It ran along under different proprietors until the early part of 1859, when the building in which the office of publication was located fell in and inflicted such serious damage that after a few numbers were printed at the office of the Times the paper suspended. The Doniphan Constitutionalist was founded by Thomas J. Key, a Southerner, who conducted it until July, 1858, when it was forced by circumstances to suspend. The outfit was removed to Iowa Point and used in publishing a paper called the Enquirer for a short time. Mr. Key then returned to the South and the Enquirer passed out of existence. All these papers were somewhat aggressive in their advocacy of slavery, and the growing sentiment in favor of making Kansas a free state was no doubt largely responsible for their discontinuance.
That the free-state sentiment was increasing at this time is evidenced by the newspapers founded during the year 1857. Out of a dozen new publications established in that year, eight were open and avowed supporters of the free-state cause, two others showed leanings that way, one professed neutrality, and only one was an advocate of the pro-slavery ideas. The Leavenworth Times first appeared on March 7, 1857. It was one of the free-state papers, published by a stock company with Robert Crozier, afterward chief justice of the Kansas supreme court, as editor. The first daily Times was issued on Feb. 15, 1858. During the next ten years it was edited by various persons, and in Sept., 1868, it was consolidated with the Conservative, which was first published in Jan., 1861, and for a time was published under the name of the Times and Conservative. Then the latter part of the name was dropped and the paper has since been issued as the Times.
In April, 1857, Babb & Walden began the publication of a free-state paper at Quindaro called the Chindowan. After running it about a year the publishers were forced to suspend, but the paper was later revised and published for a time by the Quindaro board of trade, of which Alfred Gray was president.
The Wyandotte Democrat began its existence in May, 1857, with J. A. Berry's name at the head of the editorial columns. It was the only paper started in Kansas in this year that espoused the cause of slavery. After running a while at Wwandotte[sic] the outfit was removed to Pleasanton in Linn county.
M. W. Delahay, one of the founders of the Register at Leavenworth in 1855, established the Wyandotte Reporter in the spring of 1857, but before the close of the year sold the plant to S. D. McDonald.
On May 28, 1857, the Lawrence Republican first appeared, with Norman Allen as proprietor and T. D. Thacher as editor. In the summer of the following year three of the Thachers bought out Mr. Allen, and in Dec., 1860, the paper was sold to John Speer, who on Sept. 4, 1862, sold it back to T. D. Thacher. The office of the Republican was destroyed by Quantrill and his gang of guerrillas on Aug. 21, 1863, but the paper was promptly reëstablished by Mr. Thacher, who continued to publish it until March 4, 1869, when it was consolidated with the State Journal and the Ottawa Home Journal. After this arrangement the daily edition was called the Republican Daily journal and the weekly the Western Home Journal. Under various owners and managers the paper continued until in 1876, when the Lawrence Journal company was organized and took over the plant.
In the latter part of May, 1857, Sol. Miller began the publication of a free-state paper called the Chief at White Cloud, Doniphan county. On July 4, 1872, the office of publication was removed to Troy, where it was conducted by Mr. Miller until his death, the paper at that being the oldest in Kansas under one continuous management. The Chief is still running (1911).
Two other papers were started in Doniphan county in 1857, viz: the Era at Geary City, and the Elwood Advertiser. The former was established in June; was free-state in its political sentiments, and was edited by Dr. E. H. Grant, Joseph Thompson and Earl Marble. The Era passed out of existence in the fall of 1858. The Advertiser was started in July by Fairman & Newman. It was neutral in political matters, owing to the difference of opinion on the part of the publishers, Fairman being a free-state man and Newman a pro-slavery advocate. A few months later the firm was succeeded by a company and Edward Russell was installed as editor. It evidently had a struggle for existence, as it changed hands several times during the next year, and in the winter of 1858-59 it was succeeded by a paper called the Free Press, published by Robert and Frank Tracy. The political policy was changed to an espousal of Republican doctrines, the editors being D. W. Wilder and A. L. Lee. The Free Press suspended in the fall of the year 1861, and the materials were purchased in the spring of 1864 by John T. Snoddy for the publication of the Border Sentinel at Mound City, Linn county.
On June 25, 1857, appeared the first number of the Freeman's Champion, which was published at Prairie City by S. S. Prouty, the initial edition being printed in a tent erected by some women for the purpose. The type used by Mr. Prouty in this enterprise was that formerly employed in publishing the Herald of Freedom and the press was the one brought to Kansas in 1833 by Mr. Meeker. After eleven issues the paper suspended for about three months, when it was revived by Mr. Prouty and O. P. Willett and published until Sept., 1858, when it again suspended never to be resuscitated.
In July, 1857, Dr. Carl F. Kob began the publication of the Kansas Zeitung at Atchison. This was the first German paper in Kansas. It was issued weekly by Dr. Kob until about the beginning of 1859, when he sold it to a man named Soussman (or Sussman), who removed it to Leavenworth. In March, 1868, it was consolidated with the Journal and continued under the name of the Kansas Staats Zeitung. The Journal had been started by Soussman & Kempf in March, 1865. Subsequently the Staats Zeitung was merged into the Freie Presse, which had been established by John M. Haberlein on April 1, 1869.
Late in the year 1857 the Wyandotte Citizen was started by Ephraim Abbott. It was succeeded by the Western Argus, which in turn was absorbed by the Wyandotte Gazette, which was established by S. D. McDonald in Aug., 1858. Another paper founded in the latter part of 1857 was the Young America, which was established by George W. McLane at Leavenworth. It was an independent journal, but inclined to support the free-state cause. Later the name was changed to the Daily Ledger and Ward Burlingame was employed as an editorial writer. The Ledger suspended in July, 1859.
Among the papers founded in the year 1858, probably the most important were the Wyandotte Gazette mentioned in the preceding paragraph, the Crusader of Freedom, the National Democrat and the Junction City Sentinel. The National Democrat began its career at Lecompton on Feb. 23, under the editorial management of S. W. Driggs, who was also the proprietor. The leading editorials were written by the territorial officials, Govs. Walker, Medary, Stanton and Walsh all contributing to its columns. In Oct., 1860, it was removed to Atchison, and on June 20, 1861, the name was changed to the Atchison Bulletin. Early the following year it went out of business and the materials were subsequently used to publish the Leavenworth Inquirer. The Crusader of Freedom was started early in the year at Doniphan by James Redpath. It was a pronounced Abolitionist sheet and was the personal organ of Gen. James H. Lane, eloquently pressing his claims for the presidency. In a short time, however, a quarrel arose between Lane and Redpath and the publication of the Crusader was discontinued after one number had been devoted almost exclusively to a bitter denunciation of Lane for his ingratitude, etc.
The leading papers founded in 1859 were the Western Kansas Express, the Kansas Press, the Kansas State Record and the Kansas Tribune. The Western Kansas Express, the first paper published in Riley county, was founded by C. F. DeVivaldi, the first number being issued on May 4, 1859. The press and type were taken up the Kansas river on a steamboat. In 1860 the name was changed to the Manhattan Express. On May 30, 1859, S. N. Wood issued the first number of the Kansas Press at Cottonwood Falls, but later in the year removed to Council Grove. Later the name was changed to the Council Grove Press. On Oct. 1, 1859, E. G. and W. W. Ross began the publication of the Kansas State Record. After various changes in ownership it was finally absorbed by the Topeka Commonwealth. The Kansas Tribune was established at Quindaro in the fall of the year by Francis & Davis, the materials of the old Chindowan being used in publishing the paper. In 1861 the office was removed to Olathe.
Other papers established during the territorial days were the Southern Kansas Herald at Osawatomie in the winter of 1856-57; the Palmetto Kansan at Marysville in Dec., 1857; the Kansas Leader at Centropolis, Franklin county, in the fall of 1865; the Linn County Herald at Mound City in April, 1859; the Grasshopper in Jefferson county in the spring of 1858; the Cricket at Holton in the fall of 1858; the Troy Democrat and the Palermo Leader in 1858; the Ottumwa Journal in the fall of 1857; the Olathe Herald and the Neosho Valley Register in Sept., 1859.
During the years from 1854 to 1860 more history was made in Kansas than was ever made in any state in the same length of time. Consequently the territory offered a promising field to the adventurous and enterprising journalist. Among the early local editors were such men as John Speer, T. D. Thacher, George W. Brown, R. G. Elliott, Sol. Miller, D. W. Wilder, D. R. Anthony, John J. Ingalls, Ward Burlingame and Albert H. Hortonmen of ability, courage and resourcefulnessto whom much of the credit is due for making Kansas a free state. Journalism was not confined to local talent during these early days. A number of metropolitan newspapers kept correspondents in Kansas constantly on the lookout for news "from the seat of war." Among these correspondents were William A. Phillips, Richard J. Hinton, James M. Winchell, James Redpath, Albert Richardson, A. D. Brewerton, Richard Realf and James F. Tappan, whose names are inseparably connected with the newspaper history of "Bleeding Kansas."
With the admission of Kansas to statehood, journalism took on a different tone. The question of slavery that had so long agitated the territory was settled by the Wyandotte constitution and new issues arose for discussion in the public press. In a short time the war of secession overshadowed all other subjects. Practically every paper published in Kansas took a firm stand for the preservation of the Union and a vigorous prosecution of the war.
The development of the press in a state is an index to the growth of the state's industries and institutions. During the decade following the admission of Kansas a large number of newspapers sprang up in different parts of the state, most of them in the last half of the decade, after the close of the Civil war. The following list of newspapers established during this period may not be absolutely correct, but it is approximately so, and gives some idea of the progress of Kansas in the first ten years of her statehood.
1861Leavenworth Conservative, Olathe Mirror, Smoky Hill and Republican Union (now Junction City Union), Kansas Frontier at Junction City, Brown County Union, Paola Chief.
1862Bourbon County Monitor, Doniphan County Patriot, Leavenworth Evening Bulletin. In 1871 the last named was consolidated with the Leavenworth Times.
1863Manhattan Independent, Nemaha Courier, Osage County Chronicle. The Kansas Farmer, the first agricultural paper in the state, was also established in 1863 by L. D. Bailey, president of the state agricultural society. It is still running, the publication office being at Topeka.
1864Union Sentinel at Hiawatha, Marysville Enterprise, Humboldt Herald, Troy Investigator, Kansas Patriot at Burlington, Baldwin City Observer, Kansas News Journal at Minneola, Home Circle at Baldwin, Young America at Baldwin, and the Hampden Expositor.
1865Garnett Plaindealer, Kansas New Era at Lecompton, Topeka Leader (afterward consolidated with the Commonwealth), Kansas Journal at Leavenworth.
1866North Lawrence Courier (name changed to Kaw Valley Courier), Die Fackel (The Torch), at Wyandotte, Leavenworth Commercial, Humboldt Union, Fort Scott Press, Miami Republican, Chase County Banner, Paola Advertiser.
1867Atchison Patriot, Baxter Springs Herald, Jackson County News, Pottawatomie Gazette at Louisville, Railway Advance at Hays City, Kansas Family Visitor at Baldwin, Kansas Central at Olathe, Salina Herald, Allen County Courant, Leavenworth Medical Herald.
1868Anderson County Expositor, Cherokee Sentinel at Baxter Springs, Ellsworth Advocate, Eureka Herald, Jacksonville Eagle, Oswego Register, Leavenworth Evening Call, Lawrence Freie Presse, Junction City Avalanche, Jackson County Democrat, Neosho Valley Eagle at Jacksonville, Osage Mission Journal at the Osage mission in Neosho county.
1869Independence Pioneer, Council Grove Advertiser, Seneca Mercury, Fort Scott Evening Post, Girard Press, People's Vindicator at Girard, Ottawa Herald, Wamego Courier, Wabaunsee County Herald, Frontier Democrat in Woodson county, and the Workingmen's Journal at Columbus.
1870This was the banner year of the decade in the number of new publications founded, to-wit: Abilene Chronicle, Altoona Union, Augusta Crescent, Belleville Telescope, Council Grove Democrat, Cowley County Censor, Elk Falls Examiner, Fontana Gazette, Fort Scott Democrat, Fort Scott Telegram, Guilford Citizen, Hiawatha Dispatch, Howard County Ledger, Kansas Democrat at Independence, Kansas Reporter at Louisville, La Cygne Journal, Lawrence Standard, Neodesha Enterprise, New Chicago Transcript, Olathe News Letter, Osage County Observer, Parker Record, Perryville Times, Republican Valley Empire at Clyde, Seneca Independent Press, Solomon Valley Pioneer at Lindsay, Southern Kansas Statesman at Humboldt, Spring Hill Enterprise, Topeka Independent, Vidette at Wichita, Walnut Valley Times at Eldorado, Waterville Telegraph, Western News at Detroit, Westralia Vidette, Wilson County Courier.
Some of the above newspapers have passed out of existence, and others have been absorbed by or consolidated with other publications. An instance of this character is seen in the case of the Topeka Commonwealth which was started in May, 1869 by S. S. Prouty and J. B. Davis. It absorbed the Topeka Leader and Daily State Record, and was in turn merged with the Topeka Capital which was founded in April, 1879, by Hudson & Ewing. Another example is that of the old Topeka Blade, an evening independent paper which began its existence on Aug. 1, 1873, with J. C. Swayze as editor and proprietor. Mr. Swayze was killed in a street fight by J. W. Wilson, a son of V. P. Wilson, publisher of the North Topeka Times, and Mrs. Swayze sold the Blade to George W. Reed. The last issue of the Blade was on Sept. 30, 1879, and the next day it appeared as the Daily Kansas State Journal, Reed & Sewell publishers. This was the beginning of the present Topeka State Journal.
If one were asked to name the 25 leading newspapers of Kansas in 1911 he would probably select the following: Atchison Globe, Atchison Champion, Beloit Gazette, Coffeyville Journal, Emporia Gazette, Fort Scott Monitor, Girard Press, Iola Register, Junction City Union, Lawrence Journal, Leavenworth Times, Manhattan Nationalist, Marshall County News, Olathe Mirror, Ottawa Republic, Topeka Capital, Topeka State Journal, Troy Chief, Waterville Telegraph, Wichita Beacon, Wichita Eagle, Wilson County Citizen, Winfield Courier, Wyandotte Gazette. (See sketches of the various counties for local newspapers.)
In addition to the general newspapers of the state, there are a number of publications devoted to literature, the professions and occupations, education, trade and commerce, manufactures, fraternal societies, religious and charitable work, etc.Pages 358-367 from volume II of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed July 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
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