HISTORY OF CHRISTIAN COUNTY KENTUCKY
charles m. meacham
First Paper in 1820; Subsequent Publications Under Many Names; The
Record of 110 Years; The Publishers of the Nineteenth Century;
Negro Papers; The Hopkinsville Keutuckian and The Kentucky New
The history of the press of Christian County starts in 1820, near the close of the first quarter century of the town of Hopkinsville. The facts correllated in this chapter were compiled as far as possible in 1884 when Perrin’s “History of Christian County” was published. I was engaged in the newspaper business at that time and collaborated with the author in getting his information. Since that time, I have kept a pretty accurate record of the subsequent events in journalism and have secured a number of very old papers.
In 1928 all of this data was placed in the hands of a highly capable and intelligent young lady to be used in a literary work in which she was engaged. With great patience and infinite skill she prepared a thesis from which this chapter is compiled in a large measure. In what shall follow I wish to give all credit due to the old history by W. H. Perrin, now almost out of print, and a great deal of credit to Miss Frances B. Lander for her invaluable assistance.
The Kentucky Republican was established in 1820 as shown by the date on one of the two copies preserved. The issue of September 15, 1821, was Vol. 11, No. 2. The name of David S. Patton appeared as editor and publisher.
It was a weekly of four pages, five columns to the page. The subscription was $2.50 in advance, $3.00 in six months and $4.00 if not paid until the end of the year.
The paper contained no local news. The issue of September 15 contained two or three columns on the death of Napoleon Bonaparte and the issue of the next week contained three columns on his funeral. He had been dead for a month or more. There were lengthy extracts from the Natianal Intelligencer and from the New York papers. There were a few references to happenings in the State, but nothing of a local nature except advertisements.
The name Republican had no reference to its political complexion. There was no Republican party at that time. The paper had a series of changes in its ownership. Mr. Patton, who was a lawyer, after a few years sold or leased the paper to Garrett and Beckham Pitts, brothers, and retired from its control, but after a short while took it back.
Mr. Patton served in the General Assembly from 1830 to 1834 and later moved to Paducah, where he died in 1837. He had the reputation of being an able lawyer and a forcible writer. In 1829 the office changed hands and the name of the paper also was changed.
The Spy. Livingston Lindsay bought the plant from Mr. Patton and from 1829 to 1831 published the Spy, as the paper was called. It was still a weekly of the same general character as its predecessor. Mr. Lindsay gave his personal attention to it but finally accepted a professorship in Cumberland College at Princeton, Ky., and sold the paper to Wm. R. B. Mills. Mills soon made a failure in his venture and after trying to run the paper for a while, ran aground financially and the plant was sold for debt. Mr. Lindsay, after leaving Hopkinsville, resumed the practice of law, as he had been licensed in Virginia before coming to Kentucky, and after living a while at Princeton, went to Texas and rose to prominence and became Chief Justice of the new State.
The Hopkinsville Gazette. The next paper started was called the Gazette and it was a success financially. John and Alexander Goodall, practical printers, came from Louisville soon after the suspension of the Spy and began its publication. A man named Alexander came to the town and secured four or five hundred names of people who agreed to subscribe for a paper, as the town was without one at the time. Alexander went to Louisville and sold his subscriptions to the Goodalls, who brought an outfit with them and began the publication of the Gazette in August, 1834, and the paper was still running in September, 1847. It espoused the Whig side in the stormy political contests of the day so vigorously that another paper, taking the Democratic side, was soon called into existence. I have in my possession a copy of the Peoples Press dated September 16, 1847, showing by the number that it was started in March, 1846. It was edited and published by Smith and Bronaugh and the number referred to contained two editorials directed at Samuel M. Starling, then editor of the Gazette.
The Peoples Press and the Gazette were great rivals and apparently both were well patronized.
There are a number of copies of the Gazette still in existence. W. T. Tandy, President of the City Bank, has an entire volume in binding. There is but little local news in any of the issues, but many advertisements of business houses.
A copy of the Hopkinsville Gazette dated January 12, 1839, is a fair sample. This copy is Vol. IV, No. 26. There is not a local item. The material deals principally with congressional records from Washington, stocks and bonds, bank and trust company topics, science questions, stories of adventure and of crime, agricultural topics, and two poems. The advertisements and notices are, for the most part, local, while others advertise or announce patent medicines, runaway slaves, firms, schools, etc., at Clarksville, Tenn.; Lebanon, near Trenton, Todd County; Trigg County, KY.; Trenton, Todd County, Ky.
This copy of the Gazette of 1839 is a four-page folio, sixteen by twenty-two inches, five columns to the page. Of the twenty columns of this copy six and one-fourth are devoted to advertisements and notices. There are thirty-five advertisements, thirty-one of which are local. There are fifteen and one-fourth columns of foreign material, not including advertisements; ten and one-fourth of these fifteen and one-fourth columns contain articles copied from twenty-four different papers, books, magazines, and bulletins. Three and one-fourth columns are given to editorials and to letters to the editor, only one-fourth of a column being strictly editorial.
At the top of the first column on the first page is the name of the paper Hopkinsville Gazette; under which is the name “A. C. Goodall,” who, no doubt, was editor.
The Peoples Press, dated 1847, is a seven-column, four-page folio. It is a weekly, the size of the sheet being eighteen and one-half by twenty-three and three-fourths inches. A three-line account of a marriage at Elkton (in Todd County) is the nearest approach to a local item. The most of the matter deals with facts concerning the Mexican War. Other articles are farming topics, happenings at Elkton, bitter editorials, accounts of the deaths of prominent persons not living in Kentucky, educational subjects, U. S. Bank topics, a Revolutionary War story, etc. “Hacks with horses attached” are advertised. A “$50 reward for a runaway slave, if taken out of the state; $25, if within the state and out of the county; or $10 in the county” is found on page four. Of the twenty-eight columns the material is distributed thus: nine columns are given to editorials, to articles whose sources are not given, and to letters to the editor; eleven columns contain advertisements and notices; eight columns contain items, reports, comments, and stories copied from other material, none of these articles being of local color. Of the eighty-two advertisements, seventy-three are local; the other nine advertise businesses in New Orleans, Cadiz, Ky.; Belle Vue, KY.; New Providence, Tenn.; Nashville, Tenn.; Smithland, Ky.
The Press of October 8, 1850, Vol. 1, No. 19, is a four-page folio, four columns to the page, and the page twelve and one-fourth by eighteen and three-fourths inches. Of the sixteen columns, nine have no local color. The other seven are principally advertisements and notices, five and onefourth columns being local. There are four columns of editorials and of articles written by the editor. The editorial page has one and one-half columns devoted to an article on “Roads”—especially concerning the road between Hopkinsville and Clarksville. There are three articles on the recently passed fugitive slave law; another on the extension of the railroad out of Louisville. A notice on page three announces a barbecue to be given Henry Clay at Lexington, Ky., “without distinction of party.” An advertisement on page two says that those “subscribers who wish to pay their subscriptions for the paper may now bring on their wood.” On page three is an ordinance making it “a violation for a slave to own or keep a dog.” The slave “may be whipped with not more than ten lashes by the Town Marshal or the Constable.” An article on page one tells of “a perfect rush for tickets for the concert by Jenny Lind at Boston.” The item states that the first ticket was sold for $625, but the price finally receded to as low as $5.50 a ticket.
The Green River Whig. The Gazette, some time prior to 1850, was sold to Robert Thomas, of Clarksville, Tenn., who changed its name to the Green River Whig. Just why is not clear, as Hopkinsville is not within forty miles of Green River. The paper, under its new name, continued for ten or fifteen years, according to the best information of men now living.
According to J. A. Brumfield, born in 1841, the Whig had been running several years in 1852 when his brother worked in the office. The paper was then owned by James R. Abernethy, who came from Indiana. J. W. Wilkins was a printer in the office and there was another printer named McConn. He thinks it was still running until several years after 1856. No copy of it has been preserved. The Peoples Press at that time was run by John C. Noble and the two papers were bitter in their rivalry, political and otherwise. The Whig office was on Main Street, opposite the Court House, upstairs.
The Peoples Press had been started as an organ of the Democratic party. It supported Taylor and Fillmore in 1848. There is a tradition that it was first called the Democrat, but this probably is incorrect. It was called the Peoples Press, in its second volume in 1847. In 1850, John C. Noble had acquired the paper and changed its name to the Press, published semiweekly. I have at this time a copy of the paper in that form. Just when the Press ceased publication is not certain. It was a Democratic paper and probably lived till near the close of the Buchanan administration and passed out when the Democratic party nationally went into an eclipse for nearly thirty years. Mr. Noble moved to Paducah and continued in journalism until he became a very old man.
The Peoples Press. There is evidence that there was a paper by the name of the Peoples Press being published between 1856 and the period of the Civil War. It is not known whether this paper is a continuation of the Peoples Press of 1846, or is a paper similar to it in name only.
George W. Bradley, whose brother, Alfred W. Bradley, was employed by the Peoples Press, says his brother worked for this paper some time between 1856 and the beginning of the Civil War. When the Peoples Press was discontinued Will D. Gentry had charge of it, Mr. Bradley stated.
Ira L. Smith says:
“Before the Civil War—probably about 1859—Will D. Gentry was proprietor and editor of the Peoples Press. I have recently seen a copy of this paper dated December 8, 1859. This copy is a weekly and is Vol. 2, No. 23.”
The copy of the Peoples Press, Vol. 2, No. 23, indicates the paper was begun some time in 1858. This copy probably solves the mystery that has shrouded the destiny of the Peoples Press. It is probable that the Press of 1850 under John C. Noble was taken over by Will D. Gentry about 1858 and continued as the Peoples Press.
The Kentucky Rifle. “Upon the ashes of the Green River Whig arose the Kentucky Rifle, another Whig paper, under the editorship of J. E. Carnes, and himself and J. R. McCarroll publishers and proprietors, says Perrin’s History. The issue of June 7, 1851, is Vol. 1 No. 10, which would indicate that it was established about March of the same year. It has a very showy heading of a long rifle (a photograph, perhaps, of Daniel Boone’s old rifle), with the letters ‘The Rifle’ hanging upon the barrel, much as Daniel Boone would have hung his shot-pouch upon the deer horn over his cabin door. The Rifle was as intensely Whig as its predecessors, and Carnes hurled his fierce thunderbolts . . . like blows from a battle-ax. It continued some four or five years, and then burst . . . Mr. Carnes was a brilliant man and as a writer was aggressive in the extreme. He was a poet, and frequently, . . . would reel off some beautiful and touching verses. Many of his effusions are found scattered through the old files of the Rifle. He finally became a Methodist preacher, and was sent to Texas as Superintendent of the Methodist Book Concern.
George C. Long, a Hopkinsville citizen nearly eighty-four years old, says:
“J. E. Carnes, editor of the Kentucky Rifle married a cousin of mine, Miss Emily Thomson. Mr. Carnes was editor of the Kentucky Rifle for only a short time. He and J. H. McCarroll together owned the paper. They published the Rifle in the third story at the corner of Ninth and Main Streets, the corner now occupied by Higgins’ Drug Store. Mr. Carnes was a brilliant man. He went from Hopkinsville to Russellville, Ky., where he practiced law. Later he went to Texas, where he became a Methodist minister.”
Mrs. Annie V. Starling, a sister of J. R. McCarroll, says she was about ten years old when her brother had charge of the Kentucky Rifle. Mrs. Starling is nearly eighty-six years of age. Therefore, she remembers the Kentucky Rifle’s being in existence about 1853. Mrs. Starling says:
“I remember the Kentucky Rifle as a weekly. It had at the top of its first page a rifle almost the width of the sheet, from which was suspended the name of the paper. I kept the files of the Kentucky Rifle until a few years ago when someone borrowed them and failed to return them.”
The Mercury. The Rifle was either changed to the Patriot, or was sold and the latter journal started in its place, with S. C. Mercer and J. R.McCarroll proprietors. It was established about 1855, and the latter part
of 1856 the name was changed to the Mercury. It was an organ of the Know-Nothing, or American party, and was the last paper in Western Kentucky of that political faith. Its publication was continued until 1861. George C. Long says the Patriot edited by S. C. Mercer and J. R. McCarroll from 1855 to 1856 was distinctly Republican in politics, S. C. Mercer himself being a Union man.
Mrs. Annie V. Starling, a sister of J. R. McCarroll, remembers the Mercury as a semi-weekly paper.
The fact that J. R. McCarroll was continuously connected with the Kentucky Rifle, the Patriot, and the Mercury, indicates that the Patriot and the Mercury are the same papers as the Rifle, whose names underwent the two changes. Mr. McCarroll died in June, 1861.
The Vidette. The only copy of the Vidette in existence, perhaps, is in the possession of Charles M. Meacham, of Hopkinsville, Kentucky. This copy, a semi-occasional dated October 28, 1862, was edited by General John H. Morgan’s soldiers as they passed through Hopkinsville. It is a one-sheet edition of four columns, printed on one side only. The sheet is sixteen and one-half by twenty-three and one-half inches with a three and three-fourths inch margin at the side and a three and one-fourth inch margin at the top and bottom. The first column gives Captain R. A. Aiston as editor of the Vidette “issued semi-occasionally by ‘Morgan’s Kentucky Brigade.’” As far as can be learned, the copy of the Vidette dated October 28, 1862, is the only issue of that paper edited in Hopkinsville. It is believed that Morgan’s men took charge of a printing press not in use then, issued the Vidette, and then moved on to another town. The Vidette has no volume number nor issue number.
All the articles in the Vidette bear directly on the Civil War. The editorial in the first column expresses very frankly the editor’s opinion of Lincoln. He says Lincoln’s recent proclamation freeing slaves leaves no doubt that the war was being waged for the abolition of slavery. The editor speaks of the North as “a government that has displayed a barbarism that would disgrace any people on the earth except the Yankees.” The three principal articles are: A Recent Address by the Hon. T. A. R. Nelson at Knoxville. “General Morgan’s Expedition,” and “The Recent Federal Raid in Hopkinsville.”
Mr. Nelson in his address at Knoxville strongly declares himself against Lincoln and the North. He recalls the authority Lincoln has unduly used in suspending the writ of habeas corpus, and in calling armies into the field. Nelson refers to Lincoln as a “military Dictator, who might reduce all to a state of vassalage to which no parallel can be found save in the history of the Middle Ages.”
“General Morgan’s Expedition” relates how General Morgan marched forty-two miles, within three miles of Lexington, and by maneuvering won a complete victory over the enemy. General Morgan then proceeded to Versailles, to Bardstown, on to Elizabethtown, then to Leitchfield, to Morgantown, then to Rochester, and on to Greenville and to Hopkinsville.
“The Recent Federal Raid in Hopkinsville” gives an account of a Federal raid—Bowling Green Federals—on the camp of Colonel Woodward and Colonel Johnston, about fourteen miles from Hopkinsville, on the Nashville road. The enemy remained in Hopkinsville nearly a week, committing many outrages. “Houses were entered and property either stolen or wantonly destroyed.” Women were rudely assailed by coarse and brutal language. “This band of thieves and brutal assailants of women left as suddenly as they entered this quiet village. It is said they were called by an alarm created by the advance of Morgan’s men.”
This copy of the Vidette has approximately four thousand two hundred and twenty-five words.
The Hopkinsville Conservative. This paper was established in 1868, by Col. J. M. Dodd, who came here from Henderson, Ky., about that time. Some time in 1876 he changed the name of the paper to the Hopkinsville Democrat. The Conservative, true to the principles of its name, was conservative and liberal in politics, but upon its change of title it changed its sentiments and became an organ of the Democratic party. The Democrat was issued until the latter part of 1879, when Col. Dodd leased his office.
A copy of the Hopkinsville Conservative, a weekly, dated October 16, 1869, is Vol. 4, No. 40. On the first page at the top of the first column is found the following: “J. M. Dodd, Publisher and Proprietor—Office: West Side of Main Street, upstairs.” The copy examined is a seven-column folio, nineteen by twenty-five inches. Of the twenty-eight columns, nineteen are advertisements. There are 103 advertisements, eight-one being local and twenty-two out of town. Of the 103 advertisements, sixteen are of patent medicines. Most of the items pertain to the Civil War and slavery. One article, “A Funny Incident of the Late War,” relates how Floyd, with his Rebel Army, and Rosecrans, each believing the other was making an attack, broke camp and fled. A couple of teams had stampeded. Another article, “The True Motive,” is copied from an exchange. It gives the North’s motive in freeing slaves as a means “to perpetuate their power.” An interesting editorial on page one gives the advantages of being poor.
Mrs. L. A. Dodd, the widow of J. M. Dodd, was still living in Atlanta, Ga., in 1929. She was ninety-two years of age. Mrs. Dodd in a letter written April 19, 1928, says:
“I was married in 1868, and went immediately to Hopkinsville, Kentucky. There had been no paper there during the Civil War. My husband, J. M. Dodd, in 1868 bought a newspaper office, the type of which was all in pi. He worked day and night for months before he could get the equipment in condition to publish a paper—the Hopkinsville Conservative. The Conservative was the first paper after the War and the only one for some years. It was a weekly, had a good subscription list, and paid well. It would hardly have been safe immediately after the close of the War to call it anything but Conservative. Some years after, Mr. Dodd changed the name to the Democrat. My husband contracted bronchial trouble in the army and owing to poor health sold his office in 1879 to Charles M. Meacham and W. A. Wilgus. After some years, Mr. Dodd went to Florida and, although in very poor health, again went into the newspaper work. He published the Lake City Reporter up to the time of his death.”
Mrs. Mabel Dodd Bugg, a daughter of J. M. Dodd, in a letter dated April 20, 1928, gives the following sketch of her father:
“J. M. Dodd was born in Warren County near Bowling Green, Ky. Later he went to Henderson, Kentucky, where he secured a position in a newspaper office. It was not long until original articles began to come from his case of type. He was studying law and was finally admitted to the bar and began the practice of law. Because of his ability as a writer he was persuaded to take charge of a newspaper. He published and edited the Henderson Reporter for a number of years. When the War came on Col. Dodd was accused of publishing a secession paper and his paper was suppressed and he was arrested. Later he took an active part in the War. Several prison experiences undermined his health. After the War Col. Dodd went to Hopkinsville and bought a newspaper outfit. He published his paper, the Conservative, in a building on Main Street, but later he purchased a brick building on Bridge Street (now West 7th) not far from the bridge, and moved his office to that site. He published and edited this paper for about twelve years. He could no longer stand the confinement of office work and in 1879 sold his office to Charles M. Meacham and W. A. Wilgus.”
The South Kentuckian. On the first of January, 1879, W. A. Wilgus and Wm. T. Townes leased from Col. J. M. Dodd his office, and established the South Kentuckian, the first issue appearing as a New Year’s morning call to the people of Hopkinsville; W. T. Townes, editor. In the following August, Mr. Meacham bought Townes’ interest in the lease, and a little later Mr. Wilgus sold his interest in the lease to J. W. Gobin, but on the first of January, 1880, it passed back into his hands, and the firm became Meacham and Wilgus. They leased the office of Col. Dodd for the year 1880, and in the fall purchased it outright. On the first of November, 1883, the South Kentuckian was changed into a semi-weekly. As a semiweekly it was a seven-column, four-page paper, Democratic in politics.
The South Kentuckian in the fall of 1888 became the Hopkinsville Kentuckian. When the Hopkinsville Kentuckian went out of business in 1920, it had been published under the same management, except for a brief intermission in 1888, for forty years. Charles M. Meacham, the owner and editor, discontinued the publication of the paper in 1920, but continued other branches of the business, from the same office, until December 1, 1928. In January, 1926, Mr. Meacham began doing special work on the editorial page of the Daily New Era and is still in a business that he has followed for nearly fifty-one years.
In 1888 the Hopkinsville Kentuckian was made a semi-weekly. It afterward became a tn-weekly and was published as a daily during the SpanishAmerican War and during the World War. The daily was discontinued at the close of the World War and the paper again became a tn-weekly, which continued two years, and in 1920 closed up its business and retired from the newspaper field.
The earliest available copy of the Kentuckian is dated April 22, 1879. It is a four-page weekly nineteen and one-fourth inches by twenty-five and one-fourth inches. There are eight columns to the page. It is Vol. I, No.
15. The copy gives W. A. Wilgus and Wm. T. Townes as “publishers and proprietors,” and Wm. T. Townes as editor. The issue of April 29, 1879, Vol. I, No. 16, shows Charles M. Meacham the editor. Mr. Meacham continued as editor until 1920. He became sole owner of the Hopkinsville Kentuckian in 1889.
Charles Mayfield Meacham was born near Gracey, Kentucky, June 14, 1858. When sixteen years of age he became a country correspondent of the county paper. He studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1879. Mr. Meacham was president of the Kentucky Press Association in 1893. He has been a member of the editorial staff of the Hopkinsville New Era for the last four years, conducting a column called “Meacham’s Tabloids.”
The last issue of the daily Hopkinsville Kentuckian is dated August 31, 1918. Charles M. Meacham was owner and editor. It is a daily, Vol. I, No. 150. This copy has on page 2: “Fifty-second year of Publication.” In a farewell article written by Mn. Meacham in this copy, he gives a brief history of the Kentuckian, which verifies the facts given in the history of the South Kentuckian. Mr. Meacham in this article states his reason for discontinuing his paper: “Practically its entire force has gone to war and the editor’s other business interests require attention.”
The Hopkinsville Republican. In March, 1881, George M. Cate, a young man from Pittsburgh, came to Hopkinsville and started a Republican weekly paper call The Republican. L. A. Miller came with him as editor. They came expecting to receive financial assistance which did not materialize and after a few months the paper failed for lack of patronage and its proprietors returned to Pennsylvania. The plant was sold the same year to S. C. Mercer, who continued it a short while under the name of Flopkinsville Advance, and sold the office to Wallis, Mullen and Kennedy, who changed the name to the Weekly News, independent in politics. They published it until the great fire in 1882 destroyed the office.
In 1885 V. M. Metcalfe and James E. Scobey started an agricultural and school paper called the Progressive Age. Mr. Metcalfe was owner and Mr. Scobey, then connected with South Kentucky College as president, was a liberal contributor. It was at first a monthly, then a semi-monthly. In 1891 Thos. L. Metcalfe took the paper over from his father and started the Independent.
The Independent. T. L. Metcalfe further states:
“I had charge of the Independent about 16 years. It was at first a semi-weekly; later it became a weekly. It was supposed to be independent in politics; however, it was Democratic while I had charge of it. Frank Monroe, a Frenchman, was business manager for the Independent. The following were editors or associate editors during
the 16 years I had charge: S. C. Mercer, Frank Bell, A. P. Crockett, and T. C. Underwood. In 1907 I sold the Independent to Andrew Jackson Casey, who continued the paper 2 or 3 years, when it ceased to exist, and Casey sold the office to John L. Ferguson, who did a printer’s business.
“The office of the Independent was at first on the lot back of the present location of Metcalfe’s laundry. Later it was moved over the laundry. Casey occupied the same office that I had used.”
The Kentucky New Era, dated October 6, 1925, gives an account of Frank Monroe’s death. It states the fact that Mr. Monroe, a Frenchman, came to Hopkinsville in 1883 and, after being connected with the New Era for a number of years as business manager, was later associated with T. L. Metcalfe in general charge of the Hopkinsville Independent and of the job printing department. The New Era further says:
“Everybody who knew Mr. Monroe held him in the highest esteem. Quiet in his demeanor but firm in his convictions, his influence was always on the right side of civic, moral, and religious issues. His was a lovable personality; there was no littleness or hatred in his nature, and he drew to him the warm and steady affection.”
The Republican Banner. In the 90’s Alfred Gentry had charge of a paper called the Republican Banner. He lived in Nashville, but would come over each week to Hopkinsville to issue his paper. Gentry had charge of the Banner only a short time.
The Republican Banner was a weekly paper and strictly a political instrument—Republican in faith.
James F. Rogers took the Republican Banner over in 1898 and changed its name to the Messenger, and later sold it to Capt. E. W. Clark, of Detroit, Michigan, a later owner of the Hopkinsville Messenger, who says:
“James F. Rogers, a representative of the Republicans of Christian county, was editor and owner of the Hopkinsville Republican, a weekly Republican paper, from about 1898 to 1901. His office was at Fifth and Main Streets. About 1901 Rogers sold his paper to C. A. Brasher, who continued it as a Republican weekly under the name of the Hopkinsville Messenger. Mr. Brasher’s place of business was in the Cansler Building on Sixth Street. In 1905 Mr. Brasher sold his paper to me. I ran it a couple of years as a weekly. In the fall of 1907 I had the paper incorporated and published the Hopkinsville Messenger twice a week.
“I continued the paper about a year after it was incorporated and then sold it to L. Yonts, a partner, in the fall of 1908. Mr. Yonts died soon after and here the Hopkinsville Messenger ended. My office was in the Wilgus Building on the north side of East Ninth Street, where Franklin’s department store now is. Before the paper was incorporated, it had two sheets and sometimes three, but after it became incorporated it had four sheets or eight pages. The paper was Republican throughout its existence.”
The Hopkinsville Democrat. Spalding ‘Trafton, the former managing editor of the Democrat, says:
“The Hopkinsville Democrat began in June of 1913 and continued until about the middle of December of the same year—a period of about six months. John C. Duffy was the owner and I was the managing editor. Herschel Long and Thomas D. Roberts had reportorial work. The Democrat was a morning daily, except on Sunday and Monday mornings. The office was on West S’eventh Street between Main Street and the present location of the New Era office—Allen’s pressing shop occupies the building now. The Democrat was an eight-column, eight-page paper, Democratic in politics. The price of subscription was about $6 a year by carrier and $4 by mail. When the Democrat was discontinued the equipment was sold to A. W. Wood, Sr., the present owner of the New Era.
The Tiger. The Tiger was the first school paper published by the Hopkinsville High School. It was first published in 1921-22 and has continued during the school years since, with the exception of the year 1922-23, when its news was published in the Kentucky New Era. The Tiger was a six-column, four-page folio, size eighteen by twenty-two inches. It was a monthly publication from 1921 to 1925. From 1925 to 1927 it was published weekly. During the year 1927-28 the Tiger was a semi-monthly. It was fourteen and one-half by eighteen inches and had four columns to the page. The type of school news in the Tiger has been largely concerned with the athletic and social activities of the student body.
In addition to the papers published in Hopkinsville, two other towns for many years, and up to a few years ago, each had a local paper.
One of these was the Fairview Review, published on the Christian County side of the town of Fairview, which lies on the line between Christian and Todd counties. W. B. Brewer was the founder and publisher and after the death of Mr. Brewer it was continued for some time by his son. The other paper was the Pembroke Journal, which was published for ten years or more by C. R. Hancock, who sold it to Ira L. Ferguson when his health became impaired. Mr. Ferguson suspended the paper in 1927, moving the office to Hopkinsville to be used in job printing.
PAPERS PUBLISHED BY NEGROES
The Baptist Monitor. A paper by this name was the first published by colored people back in the 80’s. It was brought to Hopkinsville from Princeton, where it had been started. James L. Allensworth was the editor while it was published here. After several years it was removed to another town, or at any rate, ceased publication. Afterwards there was a paper called the Kentucky News and it is said that it acquired the plant of the Monitor.
In August, 1892, there was a negro paper called the Indicator. It was started by E. W. Glass in connection with Rev. E. Williams and Peter Boyd. It became a paper of consequence, being one of only two colored papers in western Kentucky.
A copy of the Weekly Indicator, dated April 18, 1896, is a six-column folio weekly. fifteen by twenty-two inches. It is a paper that bespeaks progress. Ten columns are devoted to advertisements, the leading firms among both white people and negroes being advertised. There are one and a half columns of editorials. In addition to a “Home and Society” column there are “Notes” and “Jottings” from Paducah, Russeliville, Princeton, Providence, Mayfield, Greenville and Elkton. There are ten and one-half columns given to items from points outside of Christian County. On page three is a “Literary Department,” with J. M. Maxwell as editor. This section, in this issue, is devoted to the circumstances of Lowell’s writing a poem on the death of his friend Agassiz. The poem, which was published in the Atlantic Monthly, dated May, 1894, is given with comments and explanations.
Across the top of the first page of the Indicator is the motto: “Education,” and also the purpose of the paper: “Devoted to the Educational Interests of the Colored Race in Southwestern Kentucky.”
The Major. The third paper published in Hopkinsville by negroes was the Major. Edward R. Browder, the circulating agent for the Major, says:
“The Major, a weekly newspaper, was begun in 1896 with A. C. Banks as editor and manager. The office was in the Postell Building at Sixth and Virginia Streets, upstairs. The paper had four pages or two sheets and there were eight columns to the page. However, on special occasions there were as many as six or eight pages. Banks used to say that 8,000 people were reading his paper, but the number of subscribers was only about 2,000. I became connected with the Major in October, 1898, as circulating agent. I continued in this capacity about five years, or until 1903, at which time the Major was transferred to Phil H. Brown.”
The Morning News. Dolly Brown, wife of Phil H. Brown, said her husband took over the Major plant in 1902, and in October, 1903, started a daily paper known as the Morning News. She says:
“The Morning News plant was in the Postell Building on Sixth and Virginia Streets, upstairs. Later the business was moved to the Tyler Building on the corner of Fifth and Virginia Streets. This daily continued three or four years, and had the distinction of being the only colored daily newspaper in the State. The Morning News had across the top of page one the motto: ‘Despise not the day of small things.’”
A copy of the Morning News, dated February 6, 1907, is a “Daily Except Sunday,” ten and one-half by fourteen inches in size. It has four pages, and four columns to the page. This copy is Vol. IV, No. 24.
Dolly Brown further says:
“After continuing a daily three or four years, my husband, Phil Fl. Brown, decided to issue a weekly and called it the News. Later the name of the paper was changed to the Saturday News.”
A copy of the News, dated April 25, 1913, is Vol. I, No. 2. This indicates that the weekly was started in April of 1913, and that the daily continued up to 1913—a period of nearly ten years. This copy of the News has four sheets, or eight pages, and three columns to the page. The sheet is eight and one-half by eleven inches. On page two is the following:
“Weekly—Every Saturday Morning . . . Phil H. Brown, Publisher.”
The copy of the Saturday News examined is dated January 2, 1915, and is Vol. II, No. 43. It is a four-page folio, fifteen by twenty-two inches, and six columns to the page.
Dolly Brown says:
“The weekly continued publication until the fall of 1918. The Saturday Newr had about 500 subscribers. Phil H. Brown had his own printing plant when the paper was a daily. When it became a weekly the New Era Publishing Company did the printing. Phil H. Brown was editor of his paper and he himself did practically all the writing for his paper.”
Across the top of page one of the Saturday News, dated January 2, 1915, is the motto: “Man is made of clay and like a meerschaum pipe is more valuable when highly colored.”
When Phil H. Brown, the editor and owner of the News, died in 1923, in Washington, D. C., the New Age, a negro newspaper being published in Hopkinsville, quoted the following:
“The deceased (Phil H. Brown) was one of the foremost members of his race locally and had attained unusual prominence in national affairs, holding the important position of commissioner of conciliation with the Department of Labor at Washington, where his work was highly commended.”
Secretary of Labor Davis said:
“I believe Phil Brown has done as much as any other colored man of his generation to encourage the members of the negro race to play their rightful part in the political life of the country and to keep their political activity on the highest moral planes.”
Phil H. Brown’s paper, the News, had the longest period of publication of any paper published by negroes in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. It began in 1903 and was discontinued in 1918—a period of fifteen years.
The Little Courant—James T. Whitney, Jr., a negro boy fifteen years old, started the publication of the Little Courant in February of 1919. He had his own press in his father’s law office. The paper was discontinued in the fall of 1922, when James Whitney entered Fisk University at Nashville, Tennessee. The equipment was sold to the Kentucky News, Publishing Company, who later published the Kentucky News.
The New Age was a weekly paper devoted to educational and civic affairs begun in April, 1919. C. W. Merriwether and M. J. Sleet were the editors. This paper was started in 1919 and was suspended in 1923. The New Age was printed at the New Era office. It had a large circulation. The paper ceased publication near the close of 1923.
The history of journalism in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, covers a period of 110 years. The first newspaper, the Kentucky Republican, was begun in 1820. During this period of 110 years there has been almost a continuous newspaper publication except for a period of seven years,—four years during the Civil War and three years following the war. Newspaper publication by negroes in Hopkinsville covers a period of about forty-eight years. The first paper published by the negroes was the Baptist Monitor in the eighties, and their last publication, the Kentucky News, was discontinued in December, 1927.
The Hopkinsville Kentuckian and the Kentucky New Era have had the longest periods of publication. The Kentuckian in 1920 ended a period of forty-one years’ publication. The New Era was established in 1870 and is the only newspaper being published in Hopkinsville at present. The year 1930 marks the sixtieth year of its existence.
Newspapers bearing thirty-five different names have been published in Hopkinsville. Of these twenty-six were published by white people and nine by negroes. The newspapers of thirty-five different names are classified as follows:
Papers published by white people:
4 daily Democratic papers.
1 tn-weekly Democratic paper.
3 semi-weekly Democratic papers.
2 semi-weekly Know-Nothing papers.
6 weekly Democratic papers.
6 weekly Republican papers.
3 weekly Whig papers.
1 weekly Conservative paper.
1 weekly Independent paper.
1 weekly paper (political affiliation not learned).
1 monthly paper (without political affiliation).
1 semi-monthly paper (without political affiliation).
1 semi-occasional Confederate paper.
1 weekly high school paper.
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