Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, copyright 1918
INDEPENDENCE DAILY REPORTER. One of the oldest successful daily newspapers in Southern Kansas is the Independence Daily Reporter, which has recently completed the thirty-fifth year of its existence.
In 1881 Independence was a small town, the official and market center for a thrifty surrounding country entirely agricultural. Oil and gas had not yet been developed, and had not been dreamed of. Two attempts had already been made to establish daily papers, but had failed. On September 12, 1881, Ralph C. Harper and Samuel Wassam brought out the first issue of the Daily Reporter. It was printed in the office of the Kansan. The two publishers did all the work on this paper, even to delivering the copies after midnight. It is interesting to recall the fact the first important story in its columns was a report of the death of President James A. Garfield.
In a short time the publishers bought the plant of an old publication known as the Living Age, and in January, 1882, the Reporter was published in its own home.
The Reporter had to meet various financial obstacles and vicissitudes. In 1882 one of the founders Mr. Wassam retired and R. E. Harper, assisted by his wife and son, carried on the paper with great difficulty until the summer of 1885. It was then bought by T. N. Sickles, who was its editor and publisher for eighteen years. During those years the Reporter maintained no job department, and while it steadily prospered in good times and bad, it was an interesting exception to the general rule that a small daily paper could not exist without such a supplement to its business. During those years the Reporter was issued some times as a morning paper and sometimes as an afternoon paper, but finally the custom became permanent of publishing it in the afternoon. Mr. Sickles remained proprietor and editor of the Reporter from 1885 until February, 1904, with the exception of the years 1891-93, when he was connected with the United States pension agency at Topeka, though the paper was published by his son, Walter S. Sickles in the meantime.
The next owners of the Reporter were S. P. DeWolf and Allison M. Oliphant, both of whom came from Northwestern Ohio and from the great oil fields of that state. Kansas was then in the midst of an oil boom, and Independence was the mecca of thousands of oil men. No local newspaper attempted to give the news of the oil field, though that by all means was the most important material for journalistic enterprise. H. G. James volunteered to furnish the Reporter news of the oil business, being allowed $10 a week for expenses. After six months he bought the paper from the owners, and took charge as owner and editor September 1, 1904. He continued to specialize in oil news and made the Reporter the standard authority in the Mid-continent oil field. The Reporter originated the name "Mid-continent" for this great oil district.
On April 1, 1913, the Daily Reporter was bought by Clyde H. Knox, who has continued its editor and publisher to the present time. During the thirty-five years the Reporter has kept its mechanical equipment up to the standards of improvement, and now has a large and handsome plant with all the facilities for the publication of a daily paper. It is distinctively a home paper, though it also covers the important news over a large territory in Southern Kansas, and among many hundreds of its readers is the only source of current news, whether local or foreign. It is a high class newspaper, has the prestige of age and influence, and is one of the oldest daily publications in the state.
Transcribed from volume 4, pages 1834-1835 of A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, copyright 1918; originally transcribed 1998, modified 2003 by Carolyn Ward.
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