History of Lawrence County Press
Source - History of the
Arkansas Press - 1922
" The Times
LAWRENCE COUNTY , ARKANSAS
R. W. Leigh is authority for
the statement that in 1883 there was but one newspaper
published in Lawrence County,
and that was the Times, which he says, "might be called a
peripatetic journal," as it
was ''established in 1878, or thereabout, by a Mr. Shotwell, at
Walnut Ridge. It was
afterward moved to Powhatan, and from there to Smithville, from that
place to Powhatan, and from
Powhatan back to Walnut Ridge."
" The Bowlder "
A newspaper called the
Bowlder was published at Black Rock for a few months in 1888.
" The Telephone
The Telephone, at Black Rock,
was being published some time in 1890. George W. Anderson and
C. A. Begood were its
publishers, at different times.
"The Blade "
The Blade was published at
Black Rock from about 1890 to 1902. S. J. Howe was one of its
publishers, and its last one
was J. C. Riley, who discontinued the paper and moved the
plant to Walnut Ridge in
" The Herild " & " The News
The Herild, at Black Rock,
made its bow to the public in 1913. T. J. McDowell and R. G.
Barnhill were its publishers.
It disappeared during the World War,
The News was started in 1922
by J. O. Wesson.
"Iik-Lawrence County Statesman
Earle W. Hodges states that
the late Capt. W. S. Sloan informed him a few years ago that a
newspaper was published at
Davidsonville just before or immediately after the Civil War. It
was called Iik- Lawrence
The Observer was started at
Hoxie in 1908 by Roy L. Elliott.
The News, at Hoxie, was
published for some time by Southworth Bros. It was run for a while
by L. F. Maynard, but finally
"The Hoxie Tribune
The Hoxie Tribune is a new newspaper, started early in 1920, by the Tribune
Company, with which J. O.
Wesson was connected. It was sold December 1, 1920, by the
stockholders to Mrs. Gertrude
Webb, formerly of the Walnut Ridge Blade, who had been
conducting it for nearly a
year, and who is her own typesetter.
"The Spring River News
The Spring River News was
established at Imboden by William J. Bacon in 1898. Bacon had
moved to Arkansas from
Kentucky, after graduating with honors at a well known Kentucky
college, and later at
Vanderbilt University. He sold the News to Prof. W. J. Summers in
1900, who in turn sold to
Earle W. Hodges a few months later. Hodges published the paper at
Imboden for nearly two years
and then moved the plant to Pocahontas, where he established
the Pocahontas News. W. J.
Bacon went to Memphis to work on the old Scimitar as a reporter.
Later he was with the
Commercial-Appeal, then with the News-Scimitar, and then on the staff
of the Associated Press. He
was appointed city judge of Memphis and served two terms, then
was elected state senator
from Shelby County. He was an officer in the World War, with the
rank of major, and after his
return he served a short time as postmaster at Memphis, having
been appointed to fill an
unexpired term by President Wilson. He is now practicing law: in
The Imboden Gazette was
established in 1903 by H. M. Phelps, who continued to publish the
paper for several years.
Later Phelps became publisher of the Earle Enterprise and the
Malvern Reform, and the
Gazette suspended. It was revived in 1909 by Harvey Burgess, who
purchased the good will of
the newspaper after the plant had been destroyed in a fire. The
paper was later published by
John R. Burnett up to 1913, but was discontinued sometime
The Journal, of Imboden. was
first published in 1915. I. L. Franks was its publisher until
1921, when he was succeeded
by J. O. Wasson. Mr. Franks then entered the insurance
business, but bought the
Journal back in March, 1922. Mr. Wasson then started a paper at
Black Rock. He was a
candidate for the Legislature in the 1922 primary.
The Free Press, at Portia,
commenced publication in September. 1886. and suspended during
the year 1888. George W.
Morgan was its publisher for a while, and W. S. and G. W. Morgan
later became its
A newspaper named the Visitor
was started at Powhatan by J. C. Shook in 1857. In about a
year W. C. Adams purchased
the press and other material, and started the Powhatan
Advertiser. J. N. Smithee,
when he was a very young man. assisted in getting out this
newspaper for several months.
It was finally bought by Jos. T. Fisher, who continued to
publish the newspaper for a
«hort time. Morris Lewis was employed to print the paper,
Fisher never having been in a
printing office before. It suspended in 1858. at which time
the plant was moved to
In 1858 Rev. J. W. Townsend
commenced the publication of a newspaper called the Plaindealer
at Smithville. then the
county seat of Lawrence County. After the first number it was
transferred to Dr. Z. P.
McAlexander. who .continued it for several months. It was then
discontinued, and the
material was sold; but later Dr. McAlexander started another paper at
the same place. It lasted
until Dr. McAlexander went into the Confederate army. He was
commander of a company in
Churchill's Cavalry regiment, and was killed at the battle of Oak
Hills. He had been a member
of the State Senate, and also served for two terms as clerk of
"The Democratic Organ
The Democratic Organ was also
published by Dr. McAlexander. at Smithville, for a short time
The Monthly Sketchbook, a
Baptist quarterly, was started at Smithvlile in November, 1868.
by Rev. J. W. Townsend. In
April. 1877, it was changed to a weekly.
About 1899 the Mining
Microcosm was established at Smithville by W. Albert Chapman, a well
known minerologist and writer
on scientific subjects. The paper was a twelve-page tabloid
weekly, printed on book
paper, and the cover-page drawing— used each issue, with necessary
date changes—was made by Miss
Melicent M. Hendricks, a talented artist. Miss Hendricks is
now Mrs. V. L. Webb of Little
Rock. The paper suspended several years ago.
The Homecrofter, at
Smithville, was published for a while about 1910-1911 by John R.
Burnett, later of the Imboden
The Lawrence County
The Lawrence County Journal
was started at Walnut Ridge in March, 1877, by J. H. Balding,
who had moved from DeVall's
Bluff to Beebe in 1875 and from the latter place to Walnut
Ridge. In 1896 this newspaper
was sold to C. B. Oldham, who changed its name to the
Courier. It expired in about
The Lawrence County
The Lawrence County Democrat,
at Walnut Ridge, was founded by Wrenn & Jones in 1884. Mr.
Jones sold his half interest
to Mr. Phelps in 1885. In July, 1886, George Thornburgh bought
the half interest of Mr.
Phelps, and soon thereafter bought the other half interest from
Mr. Wrenn, and changed the
name of the paper from Democrat to Telephone. Mr. Thornburgh
moved to Little Rock in
November, 1889, but continued to conduct the Telephone at Walnut
Ridge until April, 1890, when
he sold it to H. L. Bugg. who in November of the same year
sold it to George W. Anderson
and Miss Annie King. The Telephone was converted into a daily
newspaper at about this time,
but the daily issue was soon discontinued. "To run a daily in
a small town is injurious to
health," commented J. W. Underhill. The weekly edition has
also disappeared in recent
years. That newspaper lost the master hand that founded it,
George Thornburgh. one of
Arkansas' best known citizens, who served in the Legislature, has
received high honors in
Masonry, been President of the Arkansas Press Association,
publisher of the Arkansas
Methodist, prominent in church circles and in prohibition
activities, now the
superintendent of the State School for the Blind.
The Masonic Trowel
The Masonic Trowel was
established by George Thornburgh in 1889 at Walnut Ridge. It was
moved to Little Rock in
November, 1889, when Colonel Thornburgh went to reside there.
The Lawrence County
The Lawrence County
Republican commenced its existence at Walnut Ridge in 1887. S. J. Howe
was its publisher, to be
succeeded by George W. Dugan.
The Blade, at Walnut Ridge,
was started at about the same time as the Republican, and the
two papers were later
consolidated in 1891 as the Blade, which was suspended for a while.
Beginning in 1902 it was
published by J. C. Riley of Kansas, who continued to publish it
until about 1920, when F. C.
Kirkpatrick succeeded him, and continues to publish this
newspaper. The Blade has an
original and elaborate heading, a sword being entwined with the
letters which compose the
title. On the sword is engraved, "In hoc signo vinces." Partly
above and below the title is
the motto, "Devoted to the boundless resources of northwest
Arkansas." Above that are
pictures of fruits. To the left of the heading is a forest scene,
and to the right a sheaf of
wheat and a corn stalk.
The Times-Dispatch, at Walnut
Ridge, dates from 1910. D. A. Lindsey was its publisher up to
1913. Walter Smith & Sons
were its next publishers, with Walter Smith as editor. This
newspaper was in September.
1921. sold to Wilkinson & Bland, and in May, 1922. J. L. Bland
purchased the interest of A.
C. Wilkerson, and became its sole owner and publisher.
Mr. Bland's entrance into the
printing business, as told by himself, makes an interesting
story. In about 1912. when
Tom Hutchinson, one of Arkansas' oddest newspaper men. who later
died of tuberculosis in
Arizona, was publishing the Bigelow Citizens' Press, he solicited
the orders of the local
stndents for school graduation cards, programs, invitations, etc.
Like most country printers,
Mr. Hutchinson failed to get cash deposits on these orders.
Among the ciders received was
one from the present editor and publisher of the Times-
Dispatch at Walnut Ridge. Mr.
Bland found that he was unable to pay for his programs and
invitations, and in an
earnest desire to recompense the printer, offered to work out his
bill at the office. By
smearing ink over a Washington hand press four times a week, the
debt was soon paid, and the
young printer's education was continued for some time, at the
rate of 50 cents per run.
Following his services in the World War, young Mr. Bland re-
entered the employ of the
Citizens' Press, then under the guidance of W. E. Jones, the
present postmaster at
Bigelow. Later he became the editor and business manager of that
publication, when C. L.
Sailor, the present publisher of the Perry County News, was the
owner of the Citizens' Press.
From Bigelow. Mr. Bland went to Newport, where he served
three years with A. C.
Wilkerson. in the office of the Daily Independent. Later he bought
the Walnut Ridge
Times-Dispatch, which he now conducts.
A daily newspaper. known as
the Journal, was published at Walnut Ridse for a short time in