Newspapers of Johnson County Link
JOHNSON COUNTY NEWSPAPERS
“The first attempt at a paper in Johnson county was the “Warrensburg Clipper,” edited by William Stephenson, known as ‘Uncle Billy.’ It was written by hand, five or six copies, and posted in the show windows of the prominent stores. Uncle Billy depended upon advertising to pay him for his labor and in that day the unregenerate ancestors of modern non-advertisers flourished. So Uncle Bill, like the poor editor of today, had some difficulty in making ends meet. One firm, Pinkston & Calhoun, druggists, were so particularly averse to inserting a 25-cent weekly ad that Uncle Billy in disgust decided to give them a free advertisement. He drew a picture of their store with the sign, Pinkston & Calhoun, Druggists, very prominent. In front of the store stood a man bended doubled with his hands upon his stomach, unloading all that he had eaten for a month. The legend from his mouth was, ‘Damn your stuff.’ We do not know whether this converted the firm or not, but we note that in a paper of 1858 they were liberal advertisers.”
Edited by Marsh Foster; important newspaper prior to the Civil War.
Important newspaper prior to the Civil War.
“With the breaking of the (Civil) War the newspaper business stopped short.”
1865. The first paper published after the war; first called the Warrensburg Standard which was started in 1865 by N. B. Klaine and S. K. Hall. In 1880 Hall sold his interest to Roderick Baldwin; in 1877 Klaine sold to George A. Richards who later sold to Van Matre. After the death of Major Baldwin, his son Mark Baldwin succeeded him until he sold his interest to J. M. Shepherd, who bought out Van Matre. Shepherd sold to C. M. Jaqua, the present editor and proprietor. The hyphenated name came from the absorption of the Daily Herald, published by Will Car.. The paper is the only torch-bearer of the Republican party in Johnson county.
1865. Largest paper in the county [in 1918]; combination of the Star and the Journal-Democrat, which was a consolidation of two of the oldest papers in the county, the Journal (est. 1865 by J. D. Eads, father of J. D. Eads, a popular Warrensburg banker) and the Democrat (founded by Julian & Conklin in 1871). “The Star-Journal is owned by a stock company, the largest stockholders being Wallace Crossley, now lieutenant governor of Missouri, and W. C. Kapp, a veteran newspaper man who has editorial charge. A daily edition and a semi-weekly edition are issued.”
The Daily Star-Journal traces its history to the Warrensburg Journal which began publishing April 17, 1865 by James Douglas Eads - seven days after the end of the American Civil War and two days after the Assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Warrensburg, population of 1,000 at the time, did not have a newspaper. Prior to the war, Eads, a church pastor, had published the Warrensburg Signal. In addition to his pastor and newspaper interests he was also a physician and ran a hotel.
On October 6, 1876, it became the Journal-Democrat after merging with the Warrensburg Democrat which had started in 1871. In 1907, Wallace Crossley became the publisher. On February 6, 1913 it became the Star-Journal after merging with the Johnson County Star founded in 1883 by J.M. Coe. William and Avis Tucker bought the paper in 1947. At one point it owned radio station KOKO. William Tucker died in 1966 and Avis owned the paper until 2007 when it was sold to NPG.
James C. Kirkpatrick started his reporting career at the paper.
1867. Established August 1867; presently conducted and edited by Richard H. Tatlow; Democratic in politics; well supported by the western section of the county. Judge Tatlow was former county judge and has conducted the paper now for a long time.
Knob Noster Gem
1878. Established by Harris and McFarland in 1878. Shortly afterward, Will D. Carr and J. P. Johnston took charge; in 1879 Johnston sold his interest to E. B. Farley; few months later Carr become sole proprietor; February 1889 Carr sold to E. D. Crawford; November 1889 Crawford sold back again to Carr and brother who afterward sold out to George J. Taylor who conducted it for 16 years; it was then sold to a company and conducted by O. A. Palmer; then sold to Houston Harte; now belongs to E. T. Hodges. Independent in politics. “The press upon which the Gem was first printed was the one carried by General Fremont in his famous Rocky Mountain tour.”
1894. Established as the Chilhowee News by Tol McGrew, 23 years ago. Afterward it was conducted by a company of Chillhowee citizens, then sold to Stuart Lewis, and is now owned and conducted by Don H. Wimmer as an independent paper.
1897. J. R. Bradley, editor and publisher, in 1918.
1903. The paper is 14 years old and has been owned by its present editor, C. L. Hobart, for 12 years. Independent in politics.
1911. School paper.
Johnson County Democrat
1913. Established by Mel. P. Moody in 1913.
“One is ‘James K. Duffield’s Land Bulletin,’ published in November 1867. (Mr. Duffield was Mrs. Dixon’s father.) It lists 212 farms and 40 town properties for sale, at prices of $5 to $50 an acre for farms and $150 to $5,500 for town properties. It gives a short sketch of Missouri and its advantages, tells about Johnson county and its resources and conditions. It emphasizes the fact that peaceful conditions exist, and states that ‘people are as safe in person and property as they would be in Ohio or Illinois. The Sabbath is duly observed and divine worship is held in every part of the county. Warrensburg is certainly as quiet and orderly as towns in New York or Pennsylvania; and society with regard to culture and refinement, compares favorably with that of Eastern towns.’ (Mr. Duffield’s solicitude that the seeker for a peaceful and prosperous home in our county should realize its good character as a law-abiding community, is somewhat explained by the fact that in the nine months immediately preceding, nine men had been hanged or shot by a vigilance committee in order to bring about this happy and peaceful condition. The last one was hanged two months before the ‘Bulletin’ appeared. The results of these ministrations by the committee to the spiritual needs of the community fully justified Mr.Duffield’s statements. At that time the most exemplary lives were being led by those whose previous reputations had been even slightly doubtful.“The Bulletin also contains an advertisement of the ‘Warrensburg and Clinton State Line,’ which states that is ‘connects with stages at Clinton for Osceola, Ft. Scott and other points south and west. Also at Warrensburg and Lexington for other points north,’ and that ‘This line has just been refitted with new four-horse coaches. The most careful drivers and the best horses. Office under Ming’s Hotel near the depot. No. 1 Holden Street.’ (This was the first house north of the railroad on the east side.”
Source: taken from HISTORY OF JOHNSON COUNTY MISSOURI, by Ewing Cockrell. Topeka, Cleveland: Historical Publishing Company. Pages 337-342. Transcribed for the WWW by Nancy Howland©1999
About Us Daily Star Journal
Warrensburg - The Daily Star-Journal's colorful, 149-year history is rooted primarily in the vision and longevity of several publishers.
EADS: Birth of a Newspaper
J.D. Eads' made what might have seemed a harebrained decision to start a weekly newspaper in Warrensburg, doing so shortly after the Civil War decimated the nation and much of Missouri.
"No paper was published (in Warrensburg) during the war years, but only eight days after its close, April 17, 1865, publication of The Journal was begun," the newspaper's centennial issue states.
Imagine that - a newspaper operating in difficult economic times.
Eads started the paper when Warrensburg had neither a public school nor a bank, and no more than about 1,000 residents. But if not for his bold decision, today's Star-Journal would not exist.
CROSSLEY: Ends Revolving Door
The centennial edition Dec. 7, 1965, names nine people who led or co-led the newspaper after Eads.
During this "revolving door" period, a competitor emerged in 1871 - The Democrat. Competition with The Democrat lasted five years, until Oct. 6, 1876, when a merger established The Journal-Democrat.
The revolving door slammed shut in 1907 under The Journal-Democrat's new publisher, Wallace Crossley.
Crossley's paper showed a penchant for solid reporting, including on April 18, 1908, when Byron Hall arrived in town by train. He toted an automatic pistol and seemed out of his head. Marshal James Ryan, Assistant Marshal James E. Basham and Officer Robert Polk approached Hall outside a hotel and tried to take the gun. The Star-Journal headlined the story, "Warrensburg Police Officers Slaughtered," and provided solid details of the shootout that left Ryan and Basham dead, and Hall wounded before committing suicide.
Part of the account states: "The five shots, every one of which did deadly work, were fired within two or three seconds. Such wholesale killing would have been impossible with any other sort of weapon. Had Hall been armed with an ordinary pistol, no more than one shot would have been fired under such circumstances and nobody would likely have been killed."
Competition would heat up in June 1883 when J.M. Coe moved The Johnson County Star from Knob Noster to Warrensburg. Five years later, Feb. 6, 1913, Crossley's Journal-Democrat merged with the Johnson County Star and from this union the Star-Journal sprang.
Crossley later employed one of the most respected men in Missouri history, James "Jimmy" Kirkpatrick. Kirkpatrick served 13 years as The Star-Journal's editor, became Missouri secretary of state and is the namesake for the library at his alma mater, the University of Central Missouri.
In the Star-Journal's centennial issue, Kirkpatrick wrote: "The Star-Journal has always been a progressive newspaper. ... Today, as it has been all down through its 100 years of service to the people of Warrensburg and Johnson County, The Daily Star-Journal is quick to fight for what is best for the community and area."
Crossley, no stranger to politics, served from 1905 to 1911 in the Missouri House, from 1913 to 1917 in the Senate and from 1917 to 1921 as lieutenant governor. He did not relinquish the newspaper's reins for 36 years, until his death in 1943.
THE TUCKERS: Innovation, Longevity
The paper remained in the Crossley family's hands for four more years, until William and Avis Tucker took the helm. The Tucker family would own the paper for 60 years, from 1947 until 2007.
The newspaper's archived pages are a testament to William Tucker's newspapering skill and innovative spirit. From 1947 to 1966, the year he died of a heart attack, the paper showed continued improvement.
As examples, in 1965, the Star-Journal moved from being about 18 inches wide to a more reader-friendly 16 inches wide, and printing took place on a new, high-speed press. Also, a review of front pages produced that year showed the publication using large, bold headlines; big, action-packed photos; and a full column of briefs down one side of Page One. This visual cocktail, designed to attract readers, shares characteristics with the "modern redesign" given to the newspaper in 2008.
In addition to creating a compelling product, William's paper reported well, including editorializing for restoring the original Johnson County Courthouse and reporting on making Skyhaven Airport public.
Following William's death, Avis took command as editor and publisher, and in so doing made history.
"I decided I was going to run this paper. I was going to try. I told everyone that I had more nerve than ability, which was the truth, and still is the truth," Avis once said. She also is quoted as saying, "I have felt an obligation to publish a paper which serves the community and takes sides on issues that I think are best for the community and the most people."
Based on further anecdotes collected by Missouri newspaper historian William H. Taft, Avis earned recognition during her 41 years at the helm as "a pioneer for women in business." She served not only as one of the state's rare female publishers, but in other leadership roles, including as the Missouri Press Association's first female president, as president of Missouri Associated Dailies and as the first woman president of the University of Missouri Board of Curators. In 1992, Avis became the first woman inducted into the Missouri Newspaper Hall of Fame.
In understated style, Avis once said, "I don't handle leisure time well."
STILL FAMILY-OWNED: A New Era
At the end of her tenure in 2007, Avis sold the Star-Journal to another newspaper family, the Bradleys, owners of the St. Joseph News-Press. In the same year the family named as publisher a respected newspaperman, Bill James, a former Missouri Press Association president.
James in 2008 focused on modernizing company facilities and operations, and on returning visual vitality to a product already possessing a strong reporting tradition. President Lyndon Johnson once acknowledged The Star-Journal for maintaining a "history of responsible journalism."
The Star-Journal today, as in William Tucker's time, prints a briefs column on Page One, again uses large headlines to draw readers into stories and again uses large photographs that are sometimes stories unto themselves.
The main difference between then and now is technology based. Newspapers in William's day did not have the advantages of computerization, which makes page design far less labor-intensive - headline sizes are easier to change, photos simpler to process and color abundant.
If William would have possessed this century's technology, there likely would not be a nickel's worth of difference between his layout philosophies and those that exist today. He understood clearly that a newspaper can show the importance of a story based on the size of a headline; he used photos effectively, not just on Page One, but on frequent photo pages; and he understood people like to see their relatives and neighbors in action.
William put out a bold community newspaper, as did his wife. They preserved a tradition no publication can afford to neglect.
Star-Journal management to this day embraces wholeheartedly a simple and powerful philosophy: The future of this newspaper depends on the staff's unwavering commitment to the finest traditions of community journalism.Warrensburg Newspapers from Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries Added to Collection
Missouri Times ,February 2013 Vol. 8, No. 4
|William and Avis Tucker, Warrensburg, MO Publishers |
"The Daily Star Journal" 1965
newspaper in 2007, longtime publisher
(and SHSMO trustee and president) Avis Tucker realized there was a stockpile of history lying in the newspaper’s back offices. This cache, in the form of thousands of issues of newspapers spanning more than fifty years, had been there since the World War II era. Thanks to the foresight of Tucker, who passed away in 2010, and with the mediation of University of Central Missouri history professor William Foley, these newspapers
are now available on microfilm to researchers interested in the history of Johnson County, Missouri. Claire Presley Marks, an associate historian at the SHSMO Research Center-Columbia, performed the painstaking work of organizing the thousands of newspaper pages, encompassing
several related titles in both daily and weekly formats, in preparation for microfilming. According to Marks, “This project allows us to preserve an invaluable piece of Missouri history. The newspapers are an excellent window into the daily lives of Missourians during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.” Newly filmed titles include weeklies, 1883-1915, and dailies, 1896-1925 with one issue from 1933 (there are, however, issues and years missing between these beginning and ending dates). The lineage of the Star-Journal newspaper can be traced back to the Journal, started in 1865 at the close of the American
Civil War. In 1876 the Journal merged with the Warrensburg Democrat, which had been started in 1871 as the Johnson
Weekly Democrat. In 1883 the Star moved from Knob Noster to Warrensburg, eventually becoming the Johnson County Star. The fates of the newspapers crossed in 1913 when
|Wallace Crossley, Publisher|
Warrensburg Daily Star Journal
the Journal-Democrat, owned by Wallace Crossley since 1907, merged with the Johnson County Star to form the new Star-Journal. Crossley, who would own the newspaper until
his death in 1943, also served as Missouri’s lieutenant governor from 1917 to 1921. Throughout their publication, the Warrensburg newspapers documented life in the town and county and collected state, national, and international news. Opening the wider world to readers, the papers educated them about distant events and figures but also kept them informed about happenings and personalities with a local connection—like John William “Blind” Boone, the pianist extraordinaire. The newspapers provided extensive general coverage of major world events, including World War I, with the Daily Star-Journal proclaiming on June 29, 1914: “Heir to Austrian throne assassinated – archduke Ferdinand and morganatic spouse victims of bullets after escaping bomb.” And when the effects of the war started to really hit home, that newspaper informed readers on March 12, 1917, regarding William Joel Stone’s approach to the impending conflict, “A statement from senator Stone – took no part in filibuster, thinks fair minded Missourians should await facts.”
Any newspaper is full of big moments and little moments, and the Warrensburg newspapers are no exception. Births, deaths, marriages, divorces, comings, goings, social affairs, and a myriad of life’s other joys and sorrows found their way into the newspapers’ pages. Avis Tucker’s husband, William, who acquired the newspaper following Crossley’s death, captured this quality in the December 7, 1965, centennial issue of the Daily StarJournal: “To these round and rolling hills of West Central Missouri which have endured so
much already and whose comforting contours will continue to endure for centuries to come, 100 years is but a moment in
time. Time flows – now slowly, now with torrential suddenness – and we never step into the same river twice. We only capture, on newsprint, and in words, the fleeting images of a moment.” The public is invited to make use.