History of the Press in Cass County, Missouri
From: History of Cass County, Missouri
By: Allen Glenn
Publisher: Historical Publishing Co.
Topeka Cleveland 1917


The first newspaper published west of the Missouri River was the Missouri Gazette, established in St. Louis in 1808. The following year the name was changed to Louisiana Gazette and in 1812 to Missouri Gazette and Public Advertising and this is the Missouri Republic of today. The paper in its editorials says, "This paper is not intended and shall be the hand made party; the paper is offered to all fair and candid discussion, but personality and indecency will not be tolerated. Whatever has a tendency to preserve, strengthen and perpetuate the Union, and aid the prosperity and respectability of our own State in particular, will always find admittance in this paper." A good motto to put to the front. We further read in this paper, "Pork and flour will be received as pay for subscriptions."

The country newspaper is the framer of society. What your local paper is, your citizenship will largely be. Every town had its early paper and when it failed to represent the will of its constituency, soon went the way of all the earth. When it stood for the best of human aspirations its patrons followed it to a fault. Bill Nye deals roughly with country papers, yet tells some real truths. A country paper without its cross roads correspondent would be much out of place. While the general public is little interested whether or not Johnnie Jones came to town on a particular day, yet such correspondents occasionally writes relative to some seemingly insignificant matter, yet in times tells of a passing historical event. Had we access now to the files of all the county papers, from the first issue to today, we would learn by suggestion many happenings, now long forgotten.

The first newspaper published in Cass County was the Can County Gazette, in 1854, established by Nathan Millington. R. O. Boggess, a lawyer, soon after purchased this, and changed the name to the Western Democrat, and changed its politics from Whig to Democrat. In about 1857 Thomas Fogle purchased this paper and continued to run it until destroyed during the War of the Rebellion. The next paper projected at Harrisonville was the Harrisanville Democrat, in 1865, edited by D. K. Abeel. In 1869 Noah M. Givan published the Democratic Herald. About the same time the Cass News was established by J. A. Wayland. In 1880, Wayland sold the Can News to J. W. Hawthorne and 0. F. Thum. Prior to this, in 1870, the Courier was established by J. E. Payne, and the Times established by J. F. Kirkpatrick and W. R. Chaplin. These last two papers were consolidated in 1879, and called the Times-Courier. In 1882 C. W. Steele and C. C. Dawson purchased the Times-Courier and it became consolidated with the Democrat.

In 1877 Lewis B. Payne and J. K. Morris started the Vindicator, which after varied changes, became the People's Journal, in 1882. In 1882 a paper called the Cass County Republican was established and lasted a few months, when it disappeared. In 1867 the Harrisonvile Democrat, started by Abeel, was purchased by S. T. Harris, who continued to run this paper until 1872, when he sold it to Porter J. Coston. This plant was destroyed soon afterward and was never reopened for publication. About this time, S. T. Harris purchased the News and ran it for many years, selling it to J. W. Brocaw, and he in turn to Chas. L. Harris. The Can News, passing many hands, is still edited in Harrisonville. The Cass County Leader was established in 1903 by Hal C. Daniel and Harry Hawkins. It, too, has had many proprietors and is now owned and edited by A. L. Webber. The present Can County Democrat is the legitimate descendant of the Democratic Herald and is a Democratic paper. The Cass County Leader is a Democratic paper. The Can News is a Republican paper.

The first newspaper projected in Pleasant Hill, Missouri, was the Western Beacon, founded by Dr. Logan McReynolds in 1858. It was Whig in politics, and continued for one year. The first paper in Pleasant Hill after the War of the Rebellion was the Union, founded in 1866 by Sterns and Allen and was Democratic in politics. This last named paper became the Pleasant Hills Review, run by A. G. Blakely. Several papers were started in Pleasant Hill and disappeared. At present the Register and Times are edited there and are both valuable adjuncts to the city on the north.

Probably the first paper established in Belton was the Belton Herald, which changed its name to the Belton Leader, and is run now under that name and under the editorialship of D. C. Idol. It is an interesting, readable paper, and of much value to any community.

The Drexel Star is edited and published in Drexel, a town of no mean importance, located in the extreme southwest corner of Cass County.

The Garden City Views is edited and published at Garden City, a thriving business town located in the south central, part of the county.

The newspaper business is a laborious and too often unappreciated labor. An editor so often spends his money and life to the uplift of a community only to pass to the great beyond unappreciated by those whose condition he labored to better. Bill Nye gives a lecture on "Journalism" which, while not all true, is not all solely humorous. He says in substance "That Journalism is necessary to the progress and education of our country. The editor should discern between a vile contemporary and a good adversary. He says his intention was to practice law, but as his only client died suddenly, thus taking the bread out of his mouth so roughly, he turned to other fields. While in a state of mind, not determined whether to become a stage robber or a lecturer on phrenology, he entered a western town with thirty five cents concealed about his person. He got a job on an evening paper. The paper went to press before dark, so he always had the evenings to himself. The paper was a stock company, supposedly because it was published in the loft of a livery stable. To reach the press room you could climb a ladder, or twist the tail of an iron gray mule, thereby taking the elevator. He got the Washington, D. C., telegraphic news on the evening train so as to get them set for the press of the last sheet. If the train was late, he made up from his own mind what the train failed to bring. He could look over what Congress had done at the same time the previous year and tell fairly well what they had done that day. So the country editor is often compelled to fill in what his patrons demand.

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