History of Lawrence County Press


Source - History of the Arkansas Press - 1922


" The Times "

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."

Black Rock.

" 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 1902.

" 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 County Statesman.

"The Observer "

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 suspended.

"The Hoxie Tribune "
The Hoxie Tribune is a new newspaper, started early in 1920, by the Tribune Publishing

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 "

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"

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"

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 publishers.

"The Visitor"

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 Pocahontas.


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

his county.

"The Democratic Organ "

The Democratic Organ was also published by Dr. McAlexander. at Smithville, for a short time

in 1861.

The Monthly Sketchbook

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.

Mining Microcosm

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

The Homecrofter, at Smithville, was published for a while about 1910-1911 by John R.

Burnett, later of the Imboden Gazette.

The Lawrence County Journal

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 1905.

The Lawrence County Democrat

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 Republican

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

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

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