Chase Co. Kansas
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NEWSPAPERS OF CHASE COUNTY
Compiled by CLARA BRANDLEY HILDEBRAND written in 1940
In writing this history of the newspapers of Chase County we claim no originality, and for those papers established before 1874, no particular research. An article was published in the Chase County Ieader May 26, 1875, giving the history of the county's newspapers to that date. In Andreas' History of Kansas we find much the same thing. In fact this information can be found in various publications. For the history of all the other newspapers established since that date we claim credit for a considerable amount of research. We have had no regular and continuous files of any newspaper to consult. We have had to depend upon a few years or sometimes only a few months' or weeks' issues of the different newspapers of which we have written. We feel that we have found the essential facts about all of them. We thank Mrs. Maud Thomas Breese for the article on the Valley Echo in its entirety. Also we thank Mrs. Helen Riddle Smith, Mrs. Ida Drinkwater and William Knapp for their interest and information given.
From the article in the Chase County Leader of May 26, 1875, we quote: "The first newspaper published in Chase County was called the Kansas Press, four pages of six columns each. It was edited by S. N. Wood, and the first number was printed in Cottonwood Falls and bears the date of May 30, 1859. It makes no boast of the size of the town and we learn from the editor that the embryo city contained but two houses —log cabins—one was aristocratic and had a board floor, while the other was a mud one. We have failed to learn which one held the press."
"It was a staunch free-state organ, and its salutatory is devoted to arguments for Kansas as a free state. In October of the same year the Kansas Press left for Council Grove, that town being ahead with inducements. After running about three years in Council Grove the material was sent to Salina and some of it can yet be seen in the Herald of that place." (1875)
"After the departure of the Press, Chase County remained in obscurity until 1866, when the irrepressible Sam Wood, who had been away to the war and got a handle to his name, brought out the Chase County Banner, four pages, six columns." According to the information we have from Mrs. S. N. Wood and from Andreas' History, this was the press used by Jotham Meeker at the Shawnee and Ottawa Baptist Missions, and a little historical background may be of interest here.
(The following facts are gleaned from Andreas' History of Kansas) :
In the 1830's there were three Missions in the Shawnee territory near Westport Landing. These were maintained by the Methodists, the Baptists and the Quakers. The Methodist Mission was the largest and most important and is the on so often referred to as "The Old Shawnee Mission." The Rev. Jotham 'Meeker was the second missionary to have charge of the Shawnee Baptist Mission. He arrived at his new post October 5, 1833, bringing with him a printing press—the first printing press to be brought into the territory of what is now the state of Kansas. In March of the following year he printed the first book ever printed in this territory. He printed, not only for the Baptist Mission but also a quanity of work for Mr. Thomas Johnson, head of the Methodist Mission.
In 1837 Mr. Meeker became head of the Ottawa Indian Mission and moved his printing press to the new location near the present city of Ottawa. This Baptist missionary and first Kansas printer died January 12, 1855. His wife died soon after and both were buried among the people they had served so well. And now in regard to this printing press we quote from Andreas' History of Kansas, page 70:
"From Rev. Mr. Meeker's hands it passed to George W. Brown of Lawrence; then to S. S. Prouty in June 1857, who printed on it the "Freeman's Champion" at Prairie City; then to the possession of Solomon Weaver, who used it at Lecompton; thence to Cottonwood Falls; thence to Cowley County and thence to the Indian Territory. It was a Seth Adams press with twenty stars on it, indicating that it was made in 1817 when there were twenty States in the Union. The type and other material used at the Mission farm by Mr. Meeker was scattered broadcast on the prairie by the Indian children and as late is 1865, handfuls of type could be picked up near where lies buried one of the most zealous missionaries that ever labored in any land."
(Quoting the Leader again) : "The Banner was published by S. N. Wood until August 3, 1867, when Theodore Alvord took it and published it until November, 1868, when according to Mr. Alvord, it proved an unprofitable field and he left it. It again fell into the hands of S. N. Wood, who published it until May 15, 1869. At that time a company of citizens took it in hand. We find among them C. A. Britton, U. B. Warren, A. S. Howard, W. R. Brown, J. S. Doolittle, F. E. Gillett, H. L. Hunt and F. E. Smith. Brown was to conduct the editorial, Hunt the local and Smith the mechanical departments. The paper was vouched for by these gentlemen to last one year; and it did; and at the end of the year it stopped, and the press went to Winfield, Cowley County. Politically the Banner was Republican. The material belonged to Sam Wood until it went to Winfield.
"The next venture was the Kansas Central Index, four pages of eight columns each, published by Frank Beck, Arthur Follett and R. J. McClure. After running some time its publishers began to desert it until it became the property of Albert Yale and John Gifford, who moved the material to Wichita in January, 1871, and started the Tribune. The Index lived about nine months. Its politics were Republican.
"In February, 1871, William A. Morgan, a practical printer from Cincinnati, came to Chase County with an entire new outfit, presses, type and office furniture, and on the 6th day of March, 1871, issued the first number of the Chase County Leader. The Leader is now in the fifth year of its existence and has proved its good staying qualities, a doubt of which, owing to the numerous failures, was its greatest trial during the first two years. Politically the Leader is Republican but its columns are open to legitimate communications from all parties. It is a four page paper, seven columns each."
Mr. Morgan continued to publish the Leader for 32 years. During all that time it remained staunchly Republican, and when we say staunch, we mean staunch. Mr. Morgan was what we might term an aggressive politician, and he never hesitated to call a spade a spade, or to go after the scalp of any opponent. In his editorial work he was ably assisted and abetted by Mrs. Morgan and the Chase County Leader was always newsy and never lacked vitality.
In 1903 Mr. Morgan sold the Leader to Mr. William C. Austin, the latter getting out his first issue March 4th, 1903. At this writing, (1940) the paper is still owned by Mr. Austin who is now serving his sixth term as State Printer and during his years of absence due to the duties of his office, the paper has been capably managed by the Leader office force of which Carl B. Cowley is now local editor and Mr. Will P. Austin business manager.
The next article on the Valley Echo was written and contributed by Mrs. Maud Thomas Breese.
THE VALLEY ECHO
By MAUD THOMAS BREESE
A supposedly authentic published record says of the Valley Echo that it came into existence in October, 1880, and quit publication in January, 1881. This however is not correct as we have a bound volume, which commences October 28, 1880 and ends March 10, 1881. Beyond this we know nothing, as the last number of the paper does not say a word about discontinuing publication and we cannot find anyone who remembers anything about its end.
The editor of the Valley Echo was one G. W. McCardell, who seemed to be a fiery politician of the Greenback variety. His first aim as editor of the Valley Echo seemed to be to elect S. N. Wood to the State Legislature. In this he failed, but he accomplished one thing for which he labored and that was the change in the name of Cottonwood, as it was then known, to Strong City. Of this he writes interestingly and with much feeling, complaining that Cottonwood was often taken for her sister city of Cottonwood Falls, and that did not please the citizens of Cottonwood, so the name was changed to Strong City, for William B. Strong, a director and later president of the Santa Fe system.
The initial number of the Echo sets forth the object of the paper. Nothing in it states that it is for S. N. Wood for representative; but the first issue of the paper 's full of reasons why the people of Chase County should vote for Mr. Wood and is full of condemnation for his opponent. We copy from the editorial of the first issue of the paper:
"TO OUR READERS"
"In making our bow to the good people of Cottonwood, we shall not go into lengthy notice, but will simply state that while the Echo is thorough Greenback in politics, it will always be found working in the interest of Cottonwood and Chase County and battling for the right. The cause we advocate we believe to be right, and the only honest and true policy to be followed by the great mass, the laboring people of the United States. We shall endeavor by all the means at our command to build up the little city of Cottonwood Hoping that all may see the benefit to be derived by having a real live Newspaper in the county, we are yours respectfully,
G. W. McCardell."
Thus the editor gives the reason for the paper called the Valley Echo. After reading his editorials and his witty comments, one wishes that they might have known G. W. McCardell. He certainly would have been worth knowing. In no walk of life can one stamp their personality so indelibly as in newspaper work. No doubt Mr. McCardell has long ago answered the summons, yet reading today what he wrote so long ago awakens a desire to have known him and to have walked a mile with him.
The Valley Echo passes into the past, having served its purpose; but what its editor wrote is the echo of a man, who wrote what he believed to be right, without fear or favor.
CHASE COUNTY COURANT
The Chase County Courant was started October 26. 1874, by J. C. Martin and William E. Timmons. It was a paper of four pages of six columns each. On September 1, 1876, Mr. Timmons assumed editorial control and J. C. Martin became local editor. In 1878, Mr. Martin sold his interest to A. J. Crutchfield, who retired the same year, leaving Mr. Timmons editor and proprietor. In 1878 the Courant became the Democratic organ of the county. Up to that time it had been independent. Mr. Timmons continued to publish the Courant until his death, May 5, 1899. With the help of her sons, Mrs. Timmons continued to publish the paper until June 21, 1900. The Chase County Leader of that date says that J. B. Crouch has assumed charge of the Courant.
The next change is recorded from an old copy of the Courant and Reveille, which we quote: "Courant established 1874—Reveille established 1900—Consolidated October 15, 1900—Philip D. Goodreau Editor." We will now consider the Reveille and follow its fortunes up to the time of the consolidation.
The Chase County Reveille was founded by Ed. W. Ellis at Cotton-wood Falls, August 21, 1890. Mr. Ellis was sole owner of this paper until he turned it over October 5, 1893, (Vol. III—No. 27), to a company known as "The Reveille Printing and Publishing Company." It was to be published as the exponent of the People's Party. The officers of the company were: John S. Doolittle, President; Dr. Frank Johnson, Vice President; J. H. Murdock, Treasurer; William S. Romigh, Secretary, General Manager and Editor. The printing press was moved to the hack room of the Farmer's Alliance store and for some time published in the interests of the Farmer's Alliance and the Populist Party. Mr. Romigh finally purchased the paper outright, and an old Reveille we found, dated June 2, 1898, carried the heading, "W. S. Romigh, Editor and Proprietor." In October 1900 Mr. Romigh sold the paper to Philip D. Goodreau, who having purchased the Chase County Courant from Mrs. Timmons, consolidated the two papers under the name of "Courant and Reveille." This consolidation took place October 15, 1900.
Philip D. Goodreau edited and published the Courant and Reveille until February 4, 1904, when the paper was sold to J. W. Coverdill. Mr. Coverdill had the paper a few months and sold to Mr. E. F. Halbert. We have not succeeded in finding the exact date but a copy of the paper, dated November 10, 1904 says, "E. F. Halbert, Editor and Proprietor." Mr. Halbert changed the name back to "The Courant." Mr. Halbert continued the paper until December 19, 1907, when it was consolidated with the Strong City Herald and Elmdale Reporter, with E. E. Burns, Editor and Proprietor. (Vol. 34—No. 2—December 19, 1907.) We will now consider the Elmdale Reporter, one of the papers in this consolidation.
The Elmdale Reporter was started at Elmdale, December 15, 1899, by R. E. Seward. On May 3rd, 1900, Mr. Seward sold the paper to Charles B. Garten. By 1906 it was owned by Harry Brown. Mr. Brown bought the Strong City Herald from Eugene L. Smith. The Chase County Leader dated March 13, 1906, stated that the Reporter would be moved to Strong City and consolidated with the Herald and run as a Democratic paper. In December 1907 the Herald's subscription list was sold to the Courant. (Courant—Vol. 34—No. 2—December 19, 1907.)
We will now go back and consider a long line of newspapers which began with the Strong City Independent in 1881 and ended with the consolidation of the Strong City Herald and the Courant in 1907.
STRONG CITY INDEPENDENT
The Strong City Independent Vol. I—No. 1 is dated August 13 1881, R. M. Watson, Editor and Proprietor. It was devoted to the principles of the National Labor Party. This paper was solely the property of R. M. Watson until March 16, 1883, when J. Clarence Hildebrand purchased a fifty per cent interest in it and assumed a part of the editorial work. In six months, August 10, 1883 to be exact, Mr. Hildebrand had had enough and retired from the business. Things went along smoothly enough for Mr. Watson and on January 1st, 1884 he changed the paper from a seven to an eight column paper. On August S, the same year, Mr. Watson announced that he had sold the Independent to E. J. Dill and D. O. Bell, two sound Democrats who had just disposed of their paper, the Council Grove Cosmos. Under date of August 22, Dill and Bell are in charge. Things ran along under this management without anything startling happening until April 17, 1885, when Messrs. Dill and Bell announced they had changed the name from Strong City Independent to Strong City Democrat because they liked the name better and after all they were Democrats. The name Democrat lasted three months; then on July 31, 1885 Dill and Bell announced that they had sold the paper to F. D. Pettit of Emporia. With the next issue the name was changed back to Strong City Independent with Pettit and Lamborn, Publishers and F. D. Pettit, Editor. Three months and a week went by; then with the issue of November 12, 1885, the paper came out (without explanation of any sort), under the heading "Massey and Harley, Publishers, J. J. Massey, Editor."
Five months and a half went by and on April 29, 1886, Dill and Bell again assumed charge, having taken the plant back to satisfy a mortgage of $900. Two weeks later with the issue of May 13, 1886, R. M. Watson again assumed charge. The paper continued under his management until April 15, 1887 when the Strong City Publishing Company assumed charge without any adequate explanation. The next issue, April 16, (next day), carried this heading, "Chase County Republican and Strong City Independent." R. M. Watson's name was still at the mast head editorially but he announced that the paper would in the future adhere to the principles of the Republican party. With the next issue the Strong City Publishing Company were still publishers, but the name of R. M. Watson had disappeared and in its place was that of Frank M. Jones, as editor. The last issue we could find of this paper was dated January 13, 1888. It was still under the same management. In the next week's issue of the Chase County Courant, ( January 19, 1888) we found this statement: "The Strong City Independent has given up the ghost, and last week ceased to exist, Mr. F. D. Weller of the Strong City Republican having bought the good will and subscription list."
STRONG CITY REPUBLICAN
The Strong City Republican was started by Frank Weller .and D. A. Ellsworth October 15, 1887. As we have seen above it absorbed the Strong City Independent January 13, 1888. Very shortly thereafter Mr. Weller sold out to William Y. Morgan. Mr. Morgan edited and published the paper until in 1892 when he sold it to Charles W. White of Council Grove. (Mr. Morgan then went to Emporia and bought the Gazette, (1892). This paper he sold to William Allen White in May, 1895 and went to Hutchinson, Kansas, where he became the owner of the Hutchinson News.)
Mr. White changed the name of the Republican to Strong City Derrick. The publisher was Dave Rettiger, the editor Charles W. White. W. C. Connelly speaks of the Derrick as a continuation of the Strong City Independent, and certainly the Derrick's owners considered that to be so, for under date of July 28, 1894, the paper states. "This is the Derrick's 13th birthday." They would have had to include the life of the Independent in that statement to make it true.
On August 24, 1893, Mr. White sold the Derrick to Bert Dunlap. At least the paper itself called it a sale, but at the end of six months, in the issue of February 22, 1894, Mr. Dunlap announced that his lease had expired and he was returning the paper to Mr. White. The date of the first issue under the renewed White management is March 1, 1894 and in it we found Mr. J. B. Wilcox associated with Mr. White in the venture. The paper promised to be Independent in politics. Charles Withington White died March 10, 1896. Mrs. Katherine White, widow of the deceased, immediately bought the interest of Mr. Wilcox in the paper. In the Chase County Courant of March 26, 1896, we found the statement that Lewis L. Horn of Topeka had purchased the Strong City Derrick and would change it to a Republican paper. The same paper in its issue of July 16, 1896 congratulated Mr. Horn on his July 3d issue of eight pages.
We could not find how long Mr. Horn ran the paper but it was taken back by Mrs. White, who with her son Charles continued the Der-rick until in 1905 when according to the Chase County Leader, they disposed of it to Eugene L. Smith who became editor and publisher and changed the name to "Strong City Herald." In March, 1906, Mr. Smith sold the paper to Harry Brown who combined it with the Elmdale Re-porter at Strong City and ran it as a Democratic paper until in December 1907, when the Herald subscription list was sold to the Courant. (See Courant—"Consolidating the Strong City Herald and Elmdale Reporter —E. E. Burns, editor and proprietor" Vol. 34-No. 2--December 19, 1907.) The State Historical Society record (William C. Connelly) shows that the Strong City News consolidated with the Courant in 1909 with J. N. Leonard, editor and proprietor. We will now consider the Elmdale Gas Jet and Strong City News, absorbed by the Courant.
ELMDALE GAS JET
The Elmdale Gas Jet was started at Elmdale March 4, 1909 by Frank E. Pattie. It was absorbed December 24, 1909 by the Strong City News.
STRONG CITY NEWS
The Strong City News was founded in 1909 by H. G. Hammond. It absorbed the Elmdale Gas Jet the same year and by the end of the year consolidated with the Courant and continued as the News-Courant with J. N. Leonard, editor and proprietor. The Cha>e County Leader, issue of January 7, 1910 had this to say of the consolidation: "Chase County papers consolidate: A little over a month ago the Dunlap Job office of Strong City was consolidated with the Strong City News, which gave that paper a clear field in Strong City. At the same time Mr. J. N. Leonard of Lawrence assumed control of the paper, Mr. Leonard was editor of the Strong City Derrick for two years, about nine years ago and gave his readers one of the best papers ever put out in this county, so when he assumed control again, the people of that town were ready to get behind him with their hearty support. The latest development in the newspaper field is the purchase of the Courant of this city and the Gas Jet of Elmdale by the Strong City News, and their consolidation under the name of News-Courant. This consolidation makes the News-Courant one of the best papers in this section of the state and Mr. Leonard is the kind of man to make the most of the opportunities before him."
Anent the Gas Jet, the Leader under date of January 19, 1910, indulged in this bit of persiflage: "The Marion Record said last week that they would have enjoyed the Elmdale Gas Jet a great deal more if it had been printed so it could have been read. We will say right here that they will have a harder time than ever to read it in the future, as it was already turning pale at the time of that issue and has since died. It seems that the people of this community got it into their heads that a strict diet had been prescribed for the paper and did all they could to enforce the prescription. The paper, being owned and managed by an Irishman with a full-grown appetite could not stand the diet and on the day of the last issue, the press broke down from sheer weakness but managed to run out the last paper. When the big balance wheel made one more round, she let out a big gasp, closed her mouth, and by the time the oil on her bearings and the ink on the plate grew cold, she was on the road all the Elmdale papers before her have traveled. While we know the Record did not know it was criticizing the dead, it did sound harsh." As the former editor of the Gas Jet was helping out in the Leader office on this date, we think he was just kidding himself a little.
Now from all the information we can gather, Mr. W. C. Austin of the Chase County Leader was the financial backer of this last move and he became the real owner of the News-Courant in 1909 or 1910. Mr. Austin was elected State Printer in November 1910. The Chase County discontinued it was within the year: It may have been at that time. The Cottonwood Valley News had been established at Strong City in 1916 and the fact that the field would hardly support two papers may have contributed to the owner's decision to discontinue it. At any rate the paper passed quietly from circulation and its demise, so far as we could learn, was not even mentioned in the Chase County Leader.
COTTONWOOD VALLEY NEWS
The Cottonwood Valley News, (Democratic), was established at Cedar Point, August 8, 1912 by Delos F. "Fritz" Drinkwater, and continued at that place until in 1916 when he moved the plant to Strong City and continued publishing the paper from that place until his death, which occurred October 18, 1918. After Mr. Drinkwater's death, the press and other machinery he used was sold to Burton Smith of Marion, Kansas, who established the Chase County News. (Information by the Drinkwater family.)
CHASE COUNTY NEWS
Burton E. Smith established the Chase County News in April, 1919, at Strong City. Mr. Smith continued as owner and publisher of the publication until he sold it to Walt Neibarger in January, 1921, at which time Mr. Smith made connections with the Marion Review. He became sole owner of the Review in 1922. He died in May, 1930, since which time his widow, Mrs. Helen Riddle-Smith, has edited the paper. (In-formation by Mrs. Smith.)
In the Chase County Leader of July 4th, 1922 we read that Walt Neibarger has sold the Chase County News to Harold B. Iliff, who comes from Chadron, Nebraska, where he has been manager of the Chadron newspaper. That was 17 years ago. Mr. Iliff is now postmaster at Strong. In the meantime, Mrs. Iliff who was always associated with him in the business, is publisher and Harold Shankland is editor of the Chase County News, the current issue at this writing, December 13th, 1939 says Vol. XXI—No. 38.
STRONG CITY ADVANCE
The Strong City Advance, Vol. I—No. 1 is dated August 31, 1893, George U. Young, editor and proprietor. It calls itself Independent in politics. With the issue of April 5, 1894, (No. 32) it passed into the hands of Phil Goodreau, foreman of the office. With Vol I—No. 37, May 10, 1894 George U. Young severs his connection with the paper and it is discontinued.
(From files of the paper.)
The Pointer was established at Cedar Point, March 30, 1895, with A. B. Emerson as editor. The State Historical Society credits it with two years of life. The Chase County Courant, issue of April 11, 1895, Leader under date of June 1911 had this to say: "W. C. Austin goes to Topeka to take over the job of State Printer July 1st, 1911. Mr. Austin is editor and owner of the Chase County Leader of this city and the News-Courant of Strong City, the only papers published in the county. Mr. Bert Dunlap is manager of the News-Courant and Mr. F. L. Curtis of the Leader."
In February, 1906, William Knapp, a Strong City youth began working in the office of the Strong City Herald. So determined was he to become a newspaper man that he put in all his time at it, working after school and whenever and wherever he could get a job. In May, 1912 he took over the management of the News-Courant for Mr. Austin. He was holding this job in November 1915, when the Chase County Leader under date of November 12, had this to say: "The Strong City News-Courant entered upon its forty-third year of publication at Strong City this week. The News-Courant is published Wednesdays and is the second oldest paper in the county in point of years, the Chase County Leader of this city being the first paper to be established in the county that is now running. William Knapp is the present editor of the News-Courant and has had control of the paper for the past three and a half years."
Mr. Knapp continued as manager of the News-Courant until March 1917. The Leader, issue of March 13, 1917 had this to say: "William Knapp of Strong City, who has been editor of the Strong City News-Courant for the past four or five years, left for Osage City Sunday, where he has a position on the Free Press and Public Opinion. He will be a linotype operator on that newspaper and commenced work this week." The next issue of the Leader, March 16th, states that W. C. Howerton has assumed management of the News-Courant and expects to run it in the interest of Strong City and Chase County and to be in-dependent in politics.
We next hear of Mr. Williams Knapp in August, 1917, when we read that he has enlisted in the Marine Corps and has already left for Port Royal, South Carolina to go into active training. In the News-Courant September 21, 1917 we read that Mr. James Hill of Great Bend has assumed charge of the News-Courant and expects to continue it along the line it has been following. A copy of the same paper dated October 11th following, contains a plea from Mr. James Hill for everyone to get behind the paper and help make it a good one. It adds, "Work has been going on overhauling the big Taylor press—new parts have been ordered and any time next week the office may be running full blast." It adds, "The cost of having the paper printed elsewhere has been large."
That issue concludes a bound volume of the News-Courant in the Courthouse-vault at Cottonwood Falls. Notwithstanding two months of research and questioning a number of those who might know, we have been unable to find out when the News-Courant was discontinued, but. says, "The Pointer, a new venture edited by A. B. Emerson at Cedar Point and published by Fred J. Whiting at Florence is a 6 column folio."
THE SCALPING KNIFE
We have not been able to learn much about this publication. The Leader in its issue of October 1st, 1874, says: "The Scalping Knife is the name of a paper appearing occasionally at Cottonwood Falls. It promises to live true to its name." The Historical Society just mentions it as having had existence.
MATFIELD MIRROR (First)
At Matfield Green, the first newspaper was established by Ed. O. Trask. It started January 27, 1893 and ran for one year and was then discontinued. It was called the "Matfield Mirror."
In August 1904 a second attempt was made to publish a paper at Matfield Green. It was called "The Independent," and started publication August 20, 1904 and quit January 6, 1905. L. L. Shaw was the editor. This was when the Orient grade was being built through Mat-field and high hopes of future prosperity were held by the citizens of the village. Ten of the leading citizens subscribed $25 apiece to get the paper started. With the printing of the above mentioned January 6th issue, the press fell to pieces and the project was abandoned. One of the ten subscribers says the press was later sold for junk.
MATFIELD MIRROR (Second)
On September 27, 1907 another Matfield Mirror was started. The State Historical Society credits it with one year's existence. We can find no one who remembers anything definite about it, except that several people think it was printed at Strong City and edited at and distributed from Matfield Green. No one remembers a printing office at Matfield at that time.
NEWSPAPERS OF CHASE COUNTY
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