from This Was Ellis County
A publication of the Junior Historians, Waxahachie High School, 1979
Fifty Years Of News - The Enterprise
By Mike Volpe
"The two newspapers - The Daily Light, established in 1893, and The Enterprise, established in 1875 - have grown up with most of the pioneers of this area. They have chronicled the happenings of the pioneers, their children, their joys and sorrows, and sad to relate, have oft times been called on to tell of their passing to the Great Beyond. In this county there are many fine old pioneers who have been reading the two papers ever since they were published. There are some wonderful traditions behind these two newspapers and those in charge of their publication."
When the Enterprise began publication in 1875, its office was located in Waxahachie on the south side of the public square, which was then known as the Bradshaw Block. Sometime between 1875 and 1882 the office was moved to the north side of the public square, where in 1882, the paper was destroyed by a fire, which leveled that
The photo on the left is how the north side of the downtown square looked before the 1882 fire. The Enterprise office was located in the center building (the one with the white sign over the second story windows). The photo on the right is almost an identical view of the left photo after the 1882 fire.
area. After the fire, the office was established on the east side of the square. The Enterprise had two locations in this section. Sometime between 1886 and 1925 the Enterprise moved to a location on Main Street next to the city hall. It was at this location that the Enterprise observed its golden anniversary. But at this time the paper was planning to move its operation to new facilities on the northwestern corner of the intersection of Elm and Franklin Streets.
The Enterprise published its first edition on January 9, 1875 with C.R. (Uncle Charlie) Gibson as the editor and John Hanes as the publisher. Soon, the competition of The North Texas Herald merged with the Enterprise. A year after this start, Hanes left the Enterprise and H. A. McMillan became co-Owner. B. F. Carpenter purchased the paper in 1877 and operated it until 1880 when he sold it to E. F. Yeager and E. G. Senter. A year later, Yeager was the sole owner of the paper and remained so until his death in 1890. J .W. Clark purchased one half interest in the paper. At a later date, W. J. Buie bought Clark's interest and in 1904, along with R.D. Hudson and C. W. Kent, formed the Enterprise Publishing Company, combining the Enterprise and the Waxahachie Weekly Light, which had built up a larger circulation than the Enterprise.
G. W. McKnight succeeded Buie as editor and business manager and the paper prospered. When McKnight retired, C. W. Kent became business manager of both papers with W. A. Ownby the managing editor of both papers. Ed McElroy succeeded to Kent's position upon Kent's death. With Ownby's illness the city editor, Floyd Casebolt, was appointed managing editor of both the Daily Light and the Enterprise.
In the early days of the Enterprise about 3,000 copies were published each week. In those days advertising costs were about two words for a penny. A yearly subscription cost $2; or six months for one dollar; or fifty cents for three months. Frequently the editors reminded subscribers through the pages of the Enterprise that subscriptions were past due. Also during these days, subscribers sometimes paid in livestock, vegetables or fruit. By the 1920's an annual subscription was one dollar per year, or six months for fifty cents, and $1.50 by mail.
Distribution outside of Waxahachie for many years after the founding was by buggy and then to the local paperboys. Carriers also accomplished Waxahachie delivery.
One of the founders of the Enterprise, C. R. Gibson, was the first editor of the paper. It was he and John T. King who brought the first press of the Enterprise from Tehuacana to Waxahachie. Gibson sold out his interest and served in the Texas House of Representatives for a long period and returned home "broke." He became paragrapher of the Enterprise and held that job until 1925.
J . A. Kemble began work for the Enterprise in 1879 when Carpenter owned the paper. He filled every position on the paper from printer's devil to managing editor at one time. For forty-six years he was connected with the Enterprise except for a short period when he and J .H. Husbands and McMillan operated the Waxahachie Democrat. All sold their interests and Kemble returned to the Enterprise. For seven years he was foreman of the Enterprise and Daily Light. He managed the job department for several years and also was a traveling correspondent and solicitor for both papers. In 1925 he was serving as city circulator for the Daily Light and general collector of the Enterprise Publishing Company. Upon the 5Oth anniversary Kemble had this to say about the Enterprise: "For a half century the Enterprise has weathered the storms and we are proud to proclaim her superiority over any weekly paper in the state. The Enterprise has had many competitors in the newspaper line during these fifty years, but by good management the paper has kept her pace with the best newspapers published."
The list of persons who had a short career or contributed to the success of the Enterprise would begin a Who's Who of Waxahachie. Those who contributed editorial services down through the first fifty years of the paper were J . H. Husbands, Judge O. E. Dunlap, Rev. N. Givens, John B. King, and J. S. Hardy, as well as Judge J. Lea Gammon and S. P. Skinner.
Some of the local citizens who were special writers and who helped to make the paper outstanding were Judge J. W. Ferris, Judge A. A. Kemble, Judge G. C. Groce, Bawd Farrar, Y. D. Kemble, T. P. Whipple and W. P. Hancock.
Special correspondents from the county who were thought to be outstanding ones were R. H. Connally who wrote items from Big Onion, and Bowd Farrar, who before his election to the legislature, wrote articles about Rockett and during his time in the legislature, was a correspondent from Austin. Mrs. Musa Dunn of the Sims Library wrote articles under the pen name of "McDee."
Typesetters at one time on the paper were Tom Ferris, later president of Citizens Bank, and Yancey Kemble. Down through the years correspondents from towns and settlements around the county sent in news from their corner of the county.
When there were saloons on nearly every corner in Waxahachie, the Enterprise carried the banner of prohibition: "The two papers (Light and Enterprise) have always stood behind those things which are proven to be for the common good, refusing to endorse any movement which would benefit any one class or part of the people of Ellis County." The papers were interested in "the work of Christianity, better schools, better streets, economic but efficient administration of public affairs, commercial development centering on the purchasing power of the home people with local firms and institutions, development of a friendly, united community spirit, encouragement of home ownership, diversity of agriculture and restoration of soil fertility."
"Yellow" journalism attacks on organizations or individuals, or other unethical acts never have been charged against either of the two papers, nor will they ever be," reported an article in the paper. The papers always supported Democratic candidates in politics.
The Enterprise during its first fifty years maintained a job shop but planned to discontinue it at the end of 1925. At the time of the fifty year anniversary, H. E. Herring was advertising manager; Floyd Casebolt, managing editor; Gene Cooper, city editor; Ed McElroy, general manager; Lester Jordan, sports editor; Gladys Whitley, assistant social editor; Mrs. Hoyle Gaston, treasurer-cashier; and J. A. Kemble, collections and circulation.
The Enterprise did continue bringing the news to Ellis County for years after its golden anniversary. For a period of time it was discontinued, but later reinstated by the present owners, Waxahachie Publishing Company, a division of Craco, Inc., as a countywide weekly.