The history of the various newspapers that have existed in Crawford county since its organization is as varied as the colors of the flowers on a Kansas prairie. A few of them, perhaps, are paying their owners at the present time a little over a living, while one, the Pittsburg Daily Headlight is really a paying investment. There is only one paper in the county that can boast of retaining any one of its owners that gave it life; that paper is the Girard Press. E. A. Wasser, the present senior proprietor, was one of the founders of the Press, and has retained his connection therewith continually for a period of thirty-five years and has been reasonably successful in a financial way. However, while Mr. Wasser and the Press have enjoyed a permanency seldom seen, there have been a large list of papers that have sprung into existence and after a fitful career expired on the altar of their founders' mistakes. There now exists in every town in the county one or more newspapers, and all are very good specimens of their owners' labors.
The first newspaper published in the county was in Girard, the county seat. It was called the Crawford County Times, and was established April 16, 1869, by Scott & Cole. Only one number was issued, as the object of the issue was accomplished, viz.: the bringing of the Osage Mission people to time.
The Girard Press was moved by William Warner and E. A. Wasser from Fort Scott to Girard in November, 1869, the first issue appearing at the latter place the 11th of the month. The paper took a strong stand in favor of the validity of Mr. Jay's title to the neutral lands, and on this account its office and material were set on fire July 14, 1871, and destroyed. The loss was $4,000. New material was obtained and the paper enlarged and improved, reappearing August 13th, and has never missed an issue since. When Horace Greeley became candidate for the presidency, Warner, the senior editor, supported his candidacy, much to the dissatisfaction and disappointment of the junior and present editor, E. A. Wasser. In consequence of this disagreement of the two proprietors in regard to politics, Warner sold his interest June 16, 1873, to A. P. Riddle, afterwards lieutenant governor of the state. This partnership existed for a period of about twelve years, when Riddle sold his interest to D. C. Flint, and a few years later the latter sold out to Wasser, who then took his son into partnership, and the firm name is now Wasser & Son. The Press was fortunate for a number of years in being the official paper of the county, and it was owing to this that it is one of the best weekly papers in the county.
The People's Vindicator was started in Girard July 28, 1870, by P. R. Crisp and C. R. Lindsey, but discontinued in November in the same year. Its only object was to act as the campaign organ for the Democrats that year.
The Girard Pharos was started March 12, 1873, by W. K. Goode. It was not a success in Girard and was moved to Cherokee, where it existed after a manner for a short time, when E. W. Majors, then county treasurer, who had a mortgage upon the plant, heard that the proprietor was preparing to spirit away, and foreclosed the mortgage in 1874 and sold the plant to J. F. McDowell, and it was by him moved to Columbus.
The Crawford County News was started August 6, 1875, by T. P. Fulton and C. C. Covill, and after passing through several hands was finally discontinued November 21, 1878.
The Girard Herald was started July 26, 1878, by J. W. Womack. It was an eight-column folio and perfect both typographically and mechanically. It was Democratic in politics and bid fair to have a successful career, when Womack, who did not pretend to be a newspaper man, got tired of it and sold to G. W. B. Hoffman and Hank Brandon. The partnership was of short duration, and Hoffman became the sole owner. He was not a manager, and after a precarious existence, death relieved him of the strain and the Herald fell into the hands of A. C. Swartz, a civil engineer, who had a mistaken idea that he was intended for an editor. He soon discovered the mistake, but clung to the paper for about a year, when he was glad to dispose of it to Frank Laughlin and T. J. Anderson, two practical printers and newspaper men. They kept it for two years and placed it on a solid financial basis, and sold it to E. R. Ridgley, now an ex-congressman, and W. J. Bailey, who made an extravagant advance in its price. Its career after that was downward at a rapid rate, and after passing through several hands finally succumbed to the inevitable. The plant was afterwards revived as the Independent News, which will be mentioned later on.
The Girard News was started December 13, 1878, by J. K. Black and Frank Laughlin. They conducted it about three months and sold it to E. P. Hinman and J. L. Eaton, in whose hands it expired after a fitful existence of about nine months.
The Girard World, daily and weekly, was started in 1895 by Abe Steinberger. Its existence was not over a year, however, when it was forced to suspend, and the material was sold to A. G. Lucas, who started the Independant News. Mr. Lucas also purchased the plant of the defunct Herald. The News was sold by Lucas to the Derry Brothers, and later it was purchased by the firm of King & Newkirk, who started a daily in connection with the weekly called the Evening News. The News, both weekly and daily, is among the best in the county.
The above gives a complete history of the papers in Girard, and while the newspaper cemetery of the county has been materially fattened, the founders of the papers have learned something.
Taken in a class, the newspaper business in Pittshurg has not been strewn with flowers and ease. In only one case is the founder yet with any of them.
The first paper to circulate in Pittsburg was the Independent, published by J. M. Walker. He owned no plant and his paper was printed in Carthage, Missouri, and brought to Pittsburg for distribution. Its time was short, however, and quit putting in an appearance after about three months.
The People's Exponent was the first paper to really exist in Pittsburg with its plant. No one seemed to father it, however, and it managed to live about a year, when Thomas P. Montfort purchased the plant and started the Pittsburg Democrat, which flourished for a few years and then merged into the Headlight.
The Pittsburg Smelter was started in 1880 by D. C. and Fay G. Flint. Its promise for a bright future was excellent. They disposed of the Smelter to O. E. Munsell, who conducted it until his health failed, when it went into the hands of John P. Morris, who was of broad-gauge ideas, and while the paper was a money-maker he ran it into the shoals of ruin and was forced to finally suspend. It was finally revived as the Pittsburg Sunday Mail, but this lived only about two months.
The Pittsburg Headlight, daily and weekly, was founded in 1885 in September, and is now one of the leading papers of the state. Its founder was M. F. Sears, who in less than a year' time took in C. W. Moore, a practical printer and newspaper man. In the course of a year Moore purchased the interest of Sears, and the father of Moore came from Americus, Kansas, and entered into partnership with his son, under the firm name of William Moore & Son. This partnership continued until the death of the senior member a few years ago, and now the firm name is Moore Brothers. The Headlight occupies its own building and is equipped with all the modern presses and other machinery with one of the best job departments and book binderies in the west. It is Republican in politics, but pays more attention to furnishing its patrons a first-class newspaper with all the news.
The Pittsburg Kansan was started in 1889 by J. C. Buchanan. It began its career as a Democratic organ, but at the beginning of the Populist craze turned over and took up with the rabble. It waved the banner of populism until the craze began to wane, when it flew back to the Democratic camp and is there now.
The Miner's Echo was started by Thomas B. McGregor during the strike of the coal miners in this district in 1893. Its mission was exclusively to hold up for the cause of the strike and when that died the paper suspended. T. P. Fulton purchased the plant and founded the Pittsburg Messenger, a Democratic organ. It lived about a year.
In 1890 Pittshurg experienced a boom, of the kind that paralyzed many Kansas towns in those days. With Pittsburg's boom came, among other things, W. C. L. Beard, a young man with but little money and no newspaper ability. He started the Pittsburg World upon the broad-gauge plan. His career was short, however, and the plant fell into the hands of Abe Steinberger and W. H. Doud. He originated the Pittsburg Daily World. Doud remained only a short time with the paper before he turned over his interest for a small consideration to Steinberger. The paper took a stand against the strike in '93 and after being hanged in effigy two or three times by the enraged miners over his vitriolic writings he moved the plant to Girard. His experience there is mentioned in another part of this history.
J. R. McKim, an inexperienced man in the business, in search of glory and notoriety, founded the Pittsburg Tribune in 1898. After an uncertain existence of a year or more he sold his interest, which was merely a small equity in the plant, to D. C. Flint & Sons, who conducted it until in 1902 and sold it to a syndicate of young printers who changed its name to the Pittsburg Journal. The Journal's career was extremely short, extending over a period of about six weeks.
This little town, one of the best in the county for its size, has practically consigned none of its papers to the newspaper cemetery of the county. It has had really only one newspaper, but it has changed its name quite often. The Arcadia Reporter was started September 21, 1882, by O. Dieffenbach and L. R. Jewell, and they conducted it until 1888, when the name was changed to the Arcadia Democrat. In 1894 it was purchased by Ben J. Gunn, and the name changed to the Arcadia. In 1896 he again changed the name to the Crawford County Times, and January 1st he changed the name to the Arcadia Times, under which it is now known
The first paper published in Cherokee was the Pharros in 1874, by Mary A. Spring and H. C. Brandon. Hoffman & Metcalf bought it in 1875 and changed the name to the Index. It died in a year or two. In 1876 Harry H. Webb founded the Young Cherokee, which he removed to Galena when the lead discovery was made there in 1877. He was in Galena about a year when he returned to Cherokee under the name of the Banner. In 1878 C. M. Lucas started the Cherokee Sentinel on the border, which is yet in existence, under the name of the Cherokee Sentinel. In 1886 Lucas sold the paper to Willis Swank. He lasted about a year, when the paper became the property of the present proprietor, J. F. Price.
The Cherokee Cyclone was founded by George G. Hamilton in 1885. When about a year old it was destroyed by fire and was never revived. The Cherokee Enterprise was founded by a young man named Davis in 1899, but it lasted only about a year.
For its size this little town of about one thousand inhabitants has had more newspaper experience than any town in the county. Its first paper was the McCune Standard, founded in 1880 by D. A. Burton & Son. It lived about three years. W. F. Liggett bought the plant in 1883 and changed the name to the McCune Times. It continued until 1892, when it was absorbed by the Democrat.
The Crawford County Democrat of McCune was started July 12, 1889, by J. M. Mahr, W D. Bevans, H. S. Cannon & Co. Mahr succeeded the others in 1893. He continued it until July 1, 1902, when the name was changed to the Times-Democrat. A. G. Lucas purchased the paper October 1, 1902, and published it until July 1, 1903, when Tom Darlington took charge. March 1, 1904, W. T. Willey became its owner and is continuing the paper.
In the 80's a small paper called the Brick was published for a short time. Along about the same time the McCune Leader was established by Rogers & Son, and later conducted by M. F. Sears. The Transcript was published a few months in the '90's by H. B. Lucas.
Two small papers of little consequence are being published in Walnut. One is called the Advance, which was started by H. Quick in the '80's and the other is the Eagle, by L. Martin. Walnut is a small town and while the support of the two papers is not heavy for the size of the town they make a good showing.
The oldest newspaper men for continuous work in the county are E. A. Wasser, with a record of thirty-five years; Frank Laughlin, twenty-five years; J. T., G. A. and C. W. Moore, of the Pittshurg Headlight, about nineteen years; and J. C. Buchanan, of the Kansan, fifteen years. All of the above named saw service in the newspaper field and printing before coming to Crawford county.
A small miscellaneous list of papers are here mentioned, whose lives were short, as an ending to this newspaper history:
The Frontenac Journal was started by Carl Andrews in 1897 and existed about three months. The Pittsburg Penny Post, a small daily, with W. H. Henney as editor, in 1893, lived only a short time. The Afro-American, for the benefit of the colored population of Pittsburg and vicinity, was given life by A. J. Lee in 1903, but after a couple of months suspended. It was resuscitated in January, 1904, by Lee, but it was only for a month, and the material is now in the hands of a German syndicate who will bring out the German Free Press about April 1st of this year (1904).
In the early '90's Behrens & Burkhart started the Pittsburg Volk Freund, but its career was only for about a year.
The German population of Pittsburg and surrounding country is large enough to support a German paper and the Free Press will start out under bright prospects. Dr. Deitrich conducted the Frontenac Vindicator from January 1, 1902, to October of the same year, when he suspended it for want of support.
The "Appeal to Reason," while belonging to the history of Crawford county newspapers, is in no way identified with them. This paper is the national organ of the Socialistic party and was moved to Girard about twelve years ago from a small town in Missouri by J. A. Wayland, the present owner and publisher. It accepts no local advertising and the plan of subscription is on the endless chain order, and the paper goes to all parts of the United States.Pages 130-138 from A Twentieth century history and biographical record of Crawford County, Kansas, by Home Authors; Illustrated. Published by Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, IL : 1905. 656 p. ill. Transcribed by Ryan Elsten and Daniel Robinson, students at Baxter Springs Middle School, Baxter Springs, Kansas, in November, 2002.
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