History of Newspapers in Lyon County, Kansas
From: History of Emporia and Lyon County Kansas
By: Laura M. French
Emporia Gazette Print
Emporia, Kansas 1929


Emporia's first newspaper, the Kanzas News, its first issue printed June 6, 1857, became the Emporia News in 1859. For many years it was one of the most widely circulated, popular and influential Republican newspapers in the State. Jacob Stotler, after his purchase of the News from its founder, Preston B. Plumb, January 29, 1859, ran it alone until 1870, when J. R. Graham and E. E. Rowland each bought an interest in it. The News became a Daily September 22, 1870, but the Daily was discontinued August 8, 1871. The Weekly became so prosperous and so popular that, in 1878, again a Daily was launched. In 1879 Graham and Rowland sold their interests to Alex Butts and Frank P. MacLennan (1). In 1884, Butts went to Kansas City and became an editorial writer of power and prominence on the Kansas City Star, working on that paper until his death. MacLennan' stayed with the News until 1885, when he bought the Topeka State Journal, which ever since he has owned and controlled. A. B. Newcomb then became editor of the News, and in 1889 the News business and plant were sold to the Emporia Republican, and the consolidation of the two papers was effected April 30, 1890.

The Republican, established in 1880 by former Lieut. Gov. C. V. Eskridge, as its editor and owner, had been a morning paper until its consolidation with the News, when it took over the afternoon field. The three story building on West Sixth, owned by the Carters, was the home of the Republican until after the failure of the First National Bank, in 1898. Then the Republican built the first story of the White Eagle garage building, at Eighth and Commercial.

Following the death of Eskridge in 1900 his son, Edward, (2) and his daughter, Mattie, continued to run the Republican until they sold it a few years later to Albert Strong, who after running the paper a year or two, sold it to William Stahl. Finally, the plant was dismantled and the equipment sold in lots to various printing offices.

The Emporia Gazette was founded in 1890 by J. R. Graham, who had been one of the owners of the News, and later had been connected with the Republican. The first issue of the Gazette was printed in August of that year, with Mr. Graham as its editor and H. F. Lincoln, business manager. W. Y. Morgan, of Cottonwood Falls, bought the Gazette from Graham, and in 1895 Morgan passed it on to William Allen White. Mr. White relates the story of his purchase of the Gazette, as follows: He paid $3,000.00, borrowed money, for the paper. He borrowed $1,000.00 from Gov. E. N. Morrill, the same amount from the P. B. Plumb estate, $700.00 from Major Calvin Hood, and $300.00 from George Plumb, all secured by bankable notes. Asked how he came to be on borrowing terms with Governor Morrill he explained that, during a part of Morrill's term as governor, he had been State House reporter for the Kansas City Star. He had become well acquainted with the Governor, who evidently considered him a safe risk.

"I paid off the thousand to the Plumb estate," says Mr. White, "with the profits from my first book, 'The Real Issue,' published in 1896. The Morrill note and the Hood note I met after the publication of 'The Court of Boyville. The $300.00 I owed George Plumb I paid with Gazette earnings, and most of it was cleaned up by 1900. That year the Gazette moved from rented quarters on East Sixth to its own building in its present location, next door to the post office, and again I had gone into debt. That has been my policy - to keep in debt, as an incentive to keep at work, to keep down my natural habit of laziness."

The Gazette building has been remodeled and enlarged several times since 1900, and the plant is worth easily a quarter million. Its subscription list in 1895 was 450, today it is 7,300.

The Emporia Times, the oldest newspaper in Emporia, is the lineal descendent of the Allen Tidings, established in 1887 by the late Major Paul. Mr. Paul moved his newspaper to Emporia in 1891, retaining the name Tidings. In 1895 he sold it to P. F. Yearout and Marshall Starr. Yearout had just closed two terms as superintendent of the Greenwood County schools, and Marshall Starr had been for two terms clerk of the court for the Chase-Lyon-Coffey County District, both having been elected to office on the Populist ticket. They changed the name of the paper to the Times, and made of it a straight Democrat paper, the Populist party being on the decline about this time. Within a year, Starr sold his interest to Yearout, and moved to Colorado. In 1900, Yearout bought the Democratic Record from Semper Bucher, and combined the two papers. Yearout ran the Times successfully until 1906, when he sold it to W. T. Dungan, who had been associated with Yearout in the publication of the Times. In 1907, Dungan sold the Times to Harrison Parkman who continued to run it as a Democrat paper. In May, 1920, Parkman sold the paper to P. R. Kellar, of Chicago. Its next owner was H. G. James, of Independence, the next was Keith Fanshier, and the next its present owner and editor, Theodore Morse. Always it has been the standard bearer for the Democratic party.

The Emporia Sentinel was established by J. A. Hetherington, who sold it in 1882 to J. M. McCown, who changed its name to the Democrat. Mr. McCown ran this paper ten years, part of the time as a Daily, and sold it to E. L. Turner, who sold it to the Republican, which about that time had bought several papers, among them the Dunlap Chief. Semper Bucher ran an Emporia Democrat - in no way related to the Democrat conducted by McCown - a few years. Edgar Martindale, a nephew of the late William Martindale, started the Emporia Daily Journal, which he sold to F. S. Mickey.

The Emporia Ledger was established in 1871 by Judge Robert M. Ruggles, later sold to the Emporia Printing & Publishing Company, composed of J. R. Graham and H. W. McCune. It was Democratic in politics, and supported Greeley for President. The Globe also flourished for a time. The Sun, whose editor was J. M. Davis, and the Greenbacker, by Spangler & Trask, were other newspaper ventures of the seventies. The Tribune was established October 7, 1869, Main & Nixon, editors. The Tribune was absorbed by the News in 1871. The Columbian was a paper printed in the Welsh language for the benefit of the Welsh people who had not yet learned the English language. It ran for several years in the eighties.

Many newspapers have come and gone in Emporia, as in other Kansas towns, most of which of the size of Emporia have had at times three or four dailies. Now, with a larger and more exacting clientele, the people are much more ably served by one daily. An Emporia newspaper directory for 1929 would read about as follows:

College Life, College of Emporia, established 1900, student editors.

Emporia Gazette, 1890, subscriptions 7,300, W. A White, editor.

Emporia Times, 1887, Theodore Morse, editor. Kansas Farm Journal, subscriptions 22,000, Ralph Snyder, editor.

Kansas Federation Magazine, 1922, subscriptions 14,000.

Kansas State Teachers College Bulletin, 1900, student editors.

Lyon County Farm Bureau News, 1920, Carl Howard, editor.

Lyon County newspapers outside Emporia are the Americus Greeting, founded in 1900, of which D. C. Brinell for many years was the editor. Mr. Grine11's paragraphs were quoted all over Kansas and outside the State, and brought recognition seldom accorded a small country town newspaper. He turned over the paper several years ago to his son, Clarence Grinell, who is its editor and publisher.

The Sentinel was the first newspaper in Americus, started in 1859 by Robert M. Ruggles and T. C. Hill. It ceased publication many years ago.

The Olpe Optimist, founded in 1906, is one of a string of small town newspapers owned, edited and published by Lawrence M. Shearer. Mr. Shearer's office is in Emporia, from which all of his papers are sent out.

D. S. (Bud) Gilmore, who was born and brought up and learned the printer's trade in Emporia, is editor and owner of the North Lyon County Journal, at Allen, the paper having been founded in 1900. This is the largest and best equipped newspaper office in Lyon County outside Emporia, and the largest paper. It covers the territory for four towns - Allen, Admire, Bushong and Miller - and is an important factor in the northern part of the county.

The Hartford Times has been ably edited and published by A. S. Bernheisel since 1905. It is as much a necessity to Hartford as its school buildings and churches, and admirably fills the needs of the town. The Hartford Call, whose editor was the late W. J. (Billy) Means, was the predecessor of the Times, and was the purveyor of news for Hartford and Elmendaro Township for several years.

The Reading Herald, Leslie Fitts, proprietor, was established June 22, 1908, by Eaton & Halstrom. Eaton continued in the business but a short time, and A. M. Hawks purchased the paper from Halstrom in 1909. Leslie Fitts bought it from Halstrom July 30, 1913. Mr. Fitts relates his first experience in getting out the paper, as follows: "The week's issue was partly printed when I took charge of the paper. I faced the proposition of getting out the paper for the week, finding another location and moving by the next night, so the post office could move, August 1, into the building I vacated. Dr. D. S. Fisher's office was in the building now occupied by the Herald, and he moved from it to the building the post office was vacating. I found temporary quarters for the Herald, moved, then the post office moved, then Doctor Fisher moved, then the Herald moved again. Neither the Herald, the post office, nor Doctor Fisher has moved again."

Mr. Fitts left the Herald and went to work for the Lawrence Journal-World October 1, 1913, and did not return until May, 1919. His father, the late Daley Fitts, his mother and brothers and sisters, got out the Herald each week. "After my return," says Mr. Fitts, "my father continued to be the guiding hand on the Herald until his death in September, 1925. Since then my mother, Mrs. Mary E. Fitts, has taken his place." Mr. Fitts has been postmaster at Reading since January 1, 1922. He owns the Herald Plant and building, and employs one man, James Price, in the shop. Leslie Fitts is a World War veteran.

Reading's first newspaper was the Advance, its first copy appearing May 27, 1893, editor, Samuel Johnson. In 1894 S. H. Stratton was editor and publisher of the Advance, and the paper was discontinued in 1895. The Reading Record was short lived - February 25-December 30, 1898. The Reading Recorder was established January 13, 1900, by Austin A. Torrance. He ran it in Reading until 1908, then moved the plant to Lebo.

1) When Frank MacLennan left the Emporia News he "stood not upon the order of his going," according to a story he related to a group of newspaper people a few years ago. In 1885 the late Col. H. C. Whitley had acquired a controlling interest in the News. The Colonel, in view of the fact that one State educational institution was located in Emporia, felt there was no room for another so had opposed the founding of the College of Emporia. But the College had been founded without the aid of the Colonel or the support of the News. Frank MacLennan, part owner of the News and its managing editor, had been instructed by the Colonel to run nothing in the News that would be of assistance to the College. The Rev. Robert M. Overstreet who, more than any other one man, was responsible for the location of the College in Emporia, cne day brought to the News office a long story concerning the College and its needs - and Frank MacLennan ran it in the paper. The result was that MacLennan hastily sold his interest in the News to Colonel Whitley, and found himself out of a job and a business. MacLennan told his troubles to Mr. Overstreet, who assured him the Colonel had done him a favor when he fired him from the News. Mr. Overstreet felt MacLennan could do better in a larger town, and advised him to go to Topeka. He went, bought the State Journal at sheriff's sale, waded into the work, and 'was successful from the start. Years ago he refused an offer of $500,000.00 for the State Journal. And later, Romance stepped in. MacLennan and the Overstreet young people had been friends in Emporia, and through the years a pleasant acquaintance had been maintained. A few years ago, long after the death of Mrs. Anna Goddard MacLennan, Frank MacLennan was married to a daughter of the Overstreets - Mrs. Madge Overstreet Wright, widow of Lee R. Wright. Mr. and Mrs. MacLennan live happily in Topeka.

2) Edward Eskridge, the only surviving member of the Eskridge family, lives in Arizona. Mrs. C. V. Eskridge died in Pasadena, Calif., in 1928, surviving by several years her daughters, Clan, Mezzie and Matte. The old Eskridge home, built in 1878 at a cost of $13,000.00, one of the handsomest residences in town for many years, with the real estate attached to it, was sold under protest to the State for use of Teachers College. The house was used as classrooms for the music department until the erection of Music Hall, and in 1929 was razed.

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