Montgomery County Newspapers
"The Press of Montgomery County," 1903
BY H. W. YOUNG.
Before attempting even the briefest mention of the scores of newspapers which
have been born and lived their short lives within our borders, it is fitting to
refer a little more in detail to the men and the papers
which have kept their places longest on the slippery surface where falls
have been so frequent.
The only newspaper in the county which has ever reached its majority under the same
ownership and management is the one referred to
above as the one instance of financial success. The South Kansas
Tribune, of Independence, was established in March, 1871, W. T. Yoe, one
of the present proprietors, being a half owner, and the other half being
the property of the law firm of York & Humphrey; though Humphrey's
name alone appeared as representing this interest and York was a silent
partner. This partnership continued only about a year, when George W.
Burchard purchased York & Humphrey's interest, and became editor of
the paper, with W. T. Yoe as local or associate editor. At this time the
Tribune was the best edited paper in the county, and perhaps in this section of the state.
This arrangement continued until 1874, when Mr. Burchard's Republicanism became so
attenuated that the only way to preserve
the political integrity of the paper was to remove him from his position.
Mr. Yoe accordingly bought him out, and his interest was transferred to
Charles Yoe who has ever since been associated in its publication. For
the twenty-nine years since, this paper has kept the even tenor of its way,
as a defender of the Republican faith; and its unwavering adherence to
that organization has made it one of the landmarks of journalism in
Southeastern Kansas. Its publishers have become comparatively wealthy; and while it
has never reached the highest levels of journalism, it
has never sunk to the lowest depths. It has been careful and conservative, and it
is usually found on the popular side of public questions. It
has not only enjoyed a lucrative income from the county printing almost
uninterruptedly for the past twenty years, but its senior editor has held
such paying official positions as member of the State Board of Trustees
of Charitable Institutions, and postmaster of the City of Independence,
while the junior member was until recently secretary of the same board.
Next to the Yoes, the second oldest editor and publisher, in the time
spent on Montgomery county newspapers, is H. W. Young, now of the
Kansas Populist, but heretofore publisher of the Coffeyville Star, the Independence
Star and the Star and Kansan. Mr. Young reckons nineteen
years devoted to editorial work in Montgomery county and has held the
offices of Receiver of the United States Land Office at Independence and
State Senator for the Montgomery county district. By his frequent
changes and his impulsive — some would say erratic — methods of conducting a
newspaper Mr. Young has illustrated the old adage that "a rolling stone gathers no moss;"
and while friends have often commended his
newspaper as "'the best in the county," he has never demonstrated any
special ability as a money-getter.
T. N. Sickels, of the Daily Reporter, of Independence, comes third,
in length of service, having become proprietor of that paper in May,
1885, and having published it uninterruptedly since, with the exception
of three or four years spent in the pension office at Topeka during President Harrison's
administration, when it was in charge of his son, Walter.
Mr. Sickels is one of the few men who have been able to make a local
daily self-supporting in towns like Independence, and now rejoices in a
subscription and advertising patronage in keeping with the growth of a
prosperous city in the gas and oil belt.
C. E. Moore, of the Cherryvale Republican, has also been a long time
in the harness, having become connected with the Globe of that city in
1881, and having been engaged in the printing business there for nearly
all the time since.
Although Montgomery is a comparatively young county, having been organized in 1869, and is not in the first rank in population,
there are only four counties in the state which can boast larger newspaper graveyards.
Untimely deaths of publications which have started out
with bright hopes and boundless ambitions have occurred at the rate of
about two a year during the thirty-four years of our county's existence,
and we now have but twelve living.
When a company of Oswego men in the summer of 1869 determined
to locate a county seat on the Verdigris and get in "on the ground floor"
in the new county to the west, one of the first things they did was to provide for the publication of
a newspaper; and so we find the first paper issued in Montgomery county to have been the Independence Pioneer. The
first number bore date of September 5th, of that year. It was published
by E. R. Trask of the Oswego Register, and printed at that place until
March. 1870, when it was provided with an outfit of its own, and David
Steel became its editor. In December, 1870, it was sold to Thos. H. Canfield, who changed its name to
the Republican. The paper remained at
the county seat for about two years longer, changing proprietors every
few months, and in the spring of 1873 again went west "to grow up" with
some other county.
The second paper established in the county was the Westralia
Vidette, by McConnell & McIntyre, in the spring of 1870. It lived only
three months and two days, succumbing to lack of nourishment. Following it came the Record, founded
by G. D. Baker at the new town of Parker. It is said to have been an excellent paper, but when Parker faded
away it had to give up the ghost.
The first paper on record as being avowedly in opposition to the dominant Republican
party in the county was the Kansas Democrat, which
the well known Martin VanBuren Bennett removed from Oswego to Independence in December, 1870.
"Van" is supposed to have intended to
use this publication as a lever to boost him into congress; but his paper
was sensational and not as popular as he hoped, and in 1872 he sold it to
Peacock & Sons who, a year or two afterward, removed it to the state
In casting about for something to do, after the sands of his official
life had run out, ex-United States Senator E. G. Ross concluded to try his
fortunes in the new county just opened down on the south line of the
state; and in the fall of 1871 established Ross' Paper at Coffeyville. Misfortune
still pursued the man who had saved Andy Johnson from impeachment, however, and in March, 1872,
his office was destroyed by a
tornado. He did not re-establish it but removed to Lawrence.
Following this came the Circular, by H W. Perry; and in the
spring of 1873, the Courier, by Chatham & Scurr. Jim Chatham was one
of the best local itemizers who ever struck Montgomery county, but his
abilities as a business man were not adequate to the strain, and bad luck
compelled him to suspend in July 1875. His office was put on wheels
and taken to Independence, where he published the Independence Courier
for a time, to be succeeded by the Daily Courier, and the Workingman's
Courier, which was published by Frank C. Scott until 1879.
The Independence Kansan was established in the fall of 1875 by W.
H. Watkins. The paper was Democratic, though Watkins was known to
be a Republican. While the Tribune, started in the spring of 1871, still
lives under one of its original publishers, the Kansan has seen changes
and vicissitudes without end. Will H. Warner took it off of Watkins'
hand in December 1870, and ran it at high pressure for a little more
than two years, vastly increasing its subscription list, getting the county
printing, and filling it with live local news; giving, however, too much
space to salacious gossip. Finding the income of the paper insufficient to
enable him to "sit in" on poker games at Kansas City as frequently as he
wished, he sold it in January 1879, to George W. Burchard, the only man
in Montgomery county who has edited both the Republican and Democratic
organs of the county. In less than a year Burchard disposed of
the paper to Frank C. Scott, of the Courier, who merged the two papers
into one. Scott sold the Kansan to H. W. Young of the Star in February
1882, but at the same time transferred the goodwill and business to A,
A. Stewart, who published a new paper with the old name. Independence
Kansan until January 1885, when he also sold out to Mr. Young, who.
has bought more Montgomery county newspapers than any other man
living. The Kansan and the Star were then consolidated as the Star and
Kansan. The Star was originally established at Coffeyville by Mr. Young
in April 1881, as the Coffeyville Star, but was removed to Independence
in October of the same year and published as The Star until the merger
just mentioned. The Star and Kansan was published by Mr. Young until
June 1890, when he removed to Colorado, leaving Charles T. Errett in
charge of the paper. It was published in Mr. Young's name until September 1892,
when Errett became proprietor. In January 1893, Mr.
Young returned and repurchased the paper, again becoming its editor
and publisher. In November 1896, he sold a half interest to A. T. Cox,
but the partnership was uncongenial and lasted not much over a year.
Indeed, the partners were unable to even agree as to the method of
getting unhitched, and the courts had to be resorted to to divorce them.
Walter S. Sickles was appointed receiver in January, 1898, and ran the
paper until May 1st when it was sold by the sheriff and purchased by Mr.
Cox, who has since conducted it. A couple of years later Mr. Cox began
the issue of the Daily Evening Star, which he still publishes.
In June 1898, Mr. Young, deciding to continue in the newspaper
business in Independence, purchased the name and list of the Kansas
Populist from Mr. Ritchie at Cherryvale. He has published the paper
since that time, having recently associated his son, H. A. Young, with
him in the business, under the firm name of H. W. Young & Son.
The Daily Reporter was established at Independence in August, 1881,
by Harper & Wassam. They published it only a year or two, when it was
taken in hand by O'Conner McCulley, who held claims upon the material. Subsequently, for a time,
it was published by Charles H. Harper,
a son of one of the founders, and then in 1885 it was sold to T. N. Sickles,
in whose ownership it still remains.
Of short lived papers published at Independence, mention may be
made of the following:
The Osage Chief, by Ed. Van Gundy and A. M. Clark, in the spring
The Itemizer, triweekly, by J. E. Stinson, in 1879.
The Living Age, by V. B. Castle, in 1881.
The Montgomery Monitor by Vick Jennings, in December 1885, and
January 1886. Jennings was the only newspaper publisher who has died
in the harness in Independence.
The Independence News, daily and weekly, by Cleveland J. Reynolds,
The Montgomery Argus, by Sullivan & Levan, in 1886-87.
United Labor, by A. J. Miller, was an Alliance organ established in
1892 and published until 1894. John Callahan, who was then deputy
sheriff, christened this sheet "The Dehorner," and it came to be much better known
by that appellation than by the name printed at its head.
The Weekly Call and the Daily Evening Call, by Rev. J. A. Smith,
Turning again to Coffeyville, we find that Hon. W. A. Peffer, who
subsequently became United States Senator, established the Coffeyville
Journal in the fall of 1875. After four or five years he removed to Topeka
and left the paper in the hands of his son, W. A. Peffer, Jr., better known
as "Jake," who continued its management until Capt. D. Stewart Elliott
assumed control in 1885. Elliott was subsequently elected to the legislature, but
owing to financial reverses was compelled to sell the
paper in 1896, when it went into the hands of a company, with W. G. Weaverling
and I. R. Arbogast as editors. They have conducted it very successfully
since that date, and have for several years been publishing a daily edition,
which is the newsiest paper of the kind now published in the county.
The Gate City Independent was established at Coffeyville in the
early nineties, and for the past ten years has been published by C. W.
Kent. Sometimes it has been a weekly, but most of the time a twice-a-week;
and often, as now, it has had a daily edition.
In 1895 or 1890, John Vedder established the Montgomery County
Democrat, which he published for several years, to be succeeded by J. P.
Easterly. Still more recently the paper has had a number of editors and
publishers; but about a year ago its name was changed to the Record, and
it has been made a daily by the Coffeyville Publishing Company, with
Will Felker as editor.
Another weekly published for about the same length of time is the
Coffeyville Gaslight, established in 1898, by W. A. Bradford. It now carries the name of Fred R. Howard as editor.
Cherryvale's first paper was the Herald, which was established in
1873, but pined away after a sickly existence of but six weeks. Following
it came the Leader, which flourished for a while in 1877. The Cherryvale
Globe was established in 1879, the Cherryvale News in 1881 and the Cherryvale Torch in 1882.
The Globe and News were consolidated in 1882
and the Torch joined the same combination in 1885. The Cherryvale
Bulletin, the only Democratic newspaper Cherryvale has ever had, was
established by Major E. W. Lyon in 1884 and continued until 1888. The
Cherryvale Champion ran from 1887 until 1895. Other short lived Cherryvale papers are the
Southern Kansas Farmer and the Kansas Commonwealth, 1891; the Morning Telegram, 1892; the Cherryvale Republic and
the Republican-Plaindealer, 1893.
The Cherryvale Republican was established in 1886 and is still published by C. E. Moore.
The Kansas Populist was started by J. H. Ritchie in 1894 as a weekly.
In connection with it he has published the Daily News, and since 1898 the
weekly has also been known as the News. The publishers are J. H. Ritchie
The Cherryvale Clarion, daily and weekly, was established in 1898,
and is now published by L. I. Purcell.
Elk City has had the Times, established in the fall of 1880, which
turned up its toes when only ten weeks old; the Globe, from 1882 to 1887;
the Star in 1884-85; the Democrat, 1885-86; the Eagle, 1886-1890; and
the Enterprise from 1889 to the present (1903) time, with W. E. Wortman as editor and publisher.
Caney has the Chronicle, which was established in 1885, and is still
published by Harry E. Brighton.
Other papers that have been published there are the Times and the
Phoenix. The Times was established in 1889 and ran until the later nineties,
having had Cleveland J. Reynolds, Hon. J. R. Charlton and A. M.
Parsons as editors.
Havana has been without a newspaper for the past ten years, but had
at various times the Vidette, the Weekly Herald, the Recorder and the
Press and Torch, none of which survived to reach the mature age of three
Liberty has had the Light, published for a short time in 1886, and the
Review from 1887 until 1892.
All sorts of newspapers have been published by all sorts of men in
Montgomery county; but the local conditions have never been favorable
for the building up of a great county newspaper of universal circulation.
The railroads have not all centered at the county seat, but have run all
around the edges of the county. This has resulted in the development of
towns at the four corners of the county, two of which have come to be
cities rivaling the county's capital, and all of which are newspaper
towns. So instead of being concentrated, the newspaper business has been
split up, and no newspaper, no matter how well edited, nor how accurate
and enterprising a purveyor of news, has yet been able to command
the patronage that would make it or give it a commanding position, for
the three or four thousand circulation which is sometimes found in
counties the size and population of ours.
[transcriber's note: Several African-American newspapers were not mentioned in the article
(Coffeyville) Afro-American Advocate; the (Coffeyville)
Kansas Blackman (1894); Coffeyville American (1898-1899); the Coffeyville
Herald (1908) and the (Coffeyville) Vindicator (1904-1906). There were
probably more, but I am not aware of them.]
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