Articles about Newton Newspapers

Early Newspapers in Newton

Editors of the Newton Record (1901-2009)


Early Newspapers in Newton1

by A. J. Brown (1834 – 1907)

There were very few newspapers in the state before the year 1860, probably not more than 40.  Now there are probably 162.  There was no newspaper in Newton County until after the war.  An attempt had been made to establish one at Decatur in 1861, but there was probably not a copy issued.  The paper that had the circulation in this county for about twenty years before the war was the Eastern Clarion published at Paulding, in Jasper County, about twenty miles from the railroad.  This paper was owned and edited by Simeon R. Adams, who was a man of marked ability as a journalist.  The Clarion was the largest paper in the state, had the largest circulation of any other journal in the state, and an advertising patronage worth much more than any other state paper.  It employed a steam power press and was said to have a net income of $10,000 per annum.  The price was $2.50 cash, $3.00 at the end of the year.  This paper was established in the year 1837, by Need & Duncan, who during the next year, sold it to Jno. J. McRae, afterwards Gov. McRae.  It is now published at Jackson as the Clarion-Ledger, and has never suspended since its first appearance.

In the year 1871, R. H. Henry, now editor of the Clarion-Ledger, came to the town of Newton, a very young man, not having reached his majority.  With him he brought a newspaper outfit and commenced the publication of the Newton Ledger.  This was the first paper printed in the county.

R H Henry, Plublsher of Newton Ledger
It is a little remarkable that the first paper published in Jasper County, established in 1837, and the first one ever published in Newton County in 1871, both adjoining counties in east Mississippi, should be blended as the Clarion-Ledger, and form one of the strongest newspaper firms in the South, and published at the capital, yet it is so.

The Newton Ledger was a paper of good size, fine print, and in every way a good county and family paper.  Mr. Henry was a practical printer, of good morals and sober, and well understood everything in connection with the printing business, having mastered all details during an apprenticeship of four years. 

The tone of the paper was high; the politics Democratic; its news fresh and reliable; it had a good circulation and was well-patronized as an advertising medium in the towns and county, to say nothing of its foreign business, which was large.

Mr. Henry moved the Ledger to Brookhaven in 1875, where it remained several years, absorbing the Citizen during the time.  In the year 1883, the paper was removed to Jackson, and published as the State Ledger until 1888, when it was merged with the Clarion, and has since been published as the Clarion-Ledger, with J. L. Power and R. H. Henry as its owners.  It is one of the most prosperous and useful papers in the South, its patronage and circulation is larger than ever before.

It is a pleasure to refer to R. H. Henry, who as a poor but energetic, sober and industrious youth, came to Newton County and commenced the publication of the Ledger, his first paper.  His success in life is well known to the people of Mississippi.  His portrait and sketch from the Times-Democrat, shows the appreciation of such men by those who have a right to know. 

The Newton Democrat, edited by Judge J. W. Robb, who had come to the town of Newton from Hinds County to practice law, succeeded the Ledger.  Judge Robb was an educated, talented gentleman, and was assisted in the Democrat office by his son, J. W. Robb, Jr., who was one of the most sprightly young writers and poets of this state.  The paper did not succeed, was removed to Morton, and was there suspended.  J. W. Robb, Jr., later engaged in the newspaper business in the Delta country, and has been dead for a number of years.  Judge Robb also removed to that part of the country, and has recently died.

In 1876, B. C. Carroll commenced the publication of the Bulletin at Newton.  Mr. Carroll was a very worthy man, an excellent citizen and brother-in-law to A. J. Frantz, of Brandon Republican notoriety.  The Bulletin was a sprightly paper, but did not have the patronage to justify a longer stay than about a year.  Mr. Carroll left Newton and has since died.

The Bulletin was succeeded by the Report, edited and published by Mr. R. K. Jayne, commencing in the fall of 1877.  Mr. Jayne was teaching at Newton with marked success, and concluded that to add the Report as an advertising medium would prove a success.  The paper also took part in the county and State affairs, and proved a very readable and agreeable journal.  It was continued until the year 1880, and was moved to Jackson and continued as an educational journal under another name. Mr. Jayne was an educated man, a good teacher and strong writer, and during his stay at Newton gathered around him some warm friends who have not forgotten him.  He is living at Jackson, engaged in the building and loan association.

After the removal of the Report from Newton, W. H. Seitzler established the Free Press.  This paper was continued for about one year, but did not succeed in making it pay, and it was sold to J. F. Moore, Esq., who was a lawyer at Newton.  W. H. Seitzler now edits the Hickory Progress.  There is no doubt that he gets up one of the best county papers in the State; that he has rare facilities for pleasing his readers, and should feel encouraged at the progress he has made in the management and editing of his paper.  J. F. Moore edited and owned the Free Press for about two years, and probably made a little more of a financial success of the paper than his predecessor, though having many other things, connected with his legal profession and business matters, to call off his attention, he did not give it the care that he otherwise would.  It appears that after the removal of the Ledger it was quite difficult to keep up a paper in the town, and if money was not lost in the investments, there was none made.  Mr. Moore died at his home in Newton.

In 1889, W. H. Andrews, a young lawyer, bought the Free Press and was its editor for a short time.  There was very little circulation to the paper during the time Mr. Andrews had charge of it, and probably no money made; more likely some was lost.  Mr. Andrews removed to Texas as a practicing attorney, and is now in California and supposed to be doing well.  After the removal of Andrews, S. B. Ross, a lawyer and printer, took editorial charge of the paper at Newton, then called the Dispatch, in 1886, and continued to edit until some time during the year 1887, when it was sold to J. J. Armistead, and the name was continued.  Mr. Ross probably made some money in publishing the Dispatch, and was also engaged in the practice of the profession.  He is still one of the prominent men in the town of Newton, engaged in the practice of law, also a correspondent of literary journals, and agent, in connection with his partner, J. R. Byrd, for Shattuck & Hoffman, a large moneyed syndicate, who loan money on real estate in this and adjoining counties.  They have loaned about $40,000, about one-half in Newton County.  These debts are usually met promptly, very little property having been sold.

J. J. Armistead commenced the publication of the Dispatch at Newton in the year 1887, and continued for nearly three years, and then sold the whole outfit to a corporation at Hickory in this county, and it was called the Newton County Progress.  Mr. Armistead had no experience in editing a paper and commenced the business after he was well advanced in life.  He was a man of strong convictions and very fearless in his utterances.  Yet the Dispatch was conducted with a very good degree of prudence, and was very well liked by its patrons. It espoused the cause of temperance and reform as probably no other paper had ever done in the county.  It usually took a decided stand in politics, and was a very independent paper.  It was probably not a moneyed success.

Mr. Armistead is still at his home in New Orleans.  After the removal of the Dispatch office to Hickory in the year 1890, there was no paper at Newton until September of that year [when] the Mississippi Baptist was established under the direction of the Mount Pisgah Association, with Rev. N. L. Clarke as editor.  S. B. Ross assisted as secular editor of the Baptist, but did not long remain in that position.  The paper was intended to be an incorporated journal under the management of a certain number of directors.  It never fully complied with the requirements of the charter, and did not assume the position of an incorporated paper, but was conducted under the management of directors and editor until May 1893, when the whole outfit was destroyed by fire.  The loss was not total; there was a small insurance, which helped to establish it again; another outfit was purchased by Viverett & Ross, with the same editor, with L. S. Tilgham as publisher.  In the month of August 1893, the first issue after the fire was published.

The editor of the Mississippi Baptist is one of the oldest and best-known men in the county.  He has been preaching in the county for about fifty-two years, and is considered  one of the most zealous and active workers the church has ever had.  Mr. Clarke2 is a man of good acquirements, of liberal education, extensive reading, a close student, and is thus fitted to fill well his place.  The Baptist has probably not made any money, to include the loss sustained by the fire, yet it is a paper desired by the Baptist people of the Association, and it is pretty well patronized.  The publisher is L. S. Tilgham, a young man of sober habits, well qualified as a practical printer, and the paper is always on time.

  1. A. J. Brown, History of Newton County, Mississippi, Clarion-Ledger, Jackson, Miss., 1894, pp. 195-203.
  2. The newspaper was produced in the back room of a store belonging to Tracy Gallaspy, grandson of Rev. N. L. Clarke.  It was eventually abandoned for financial reasons, but reappeared as the Baptist Record, a standard publication still ready by many Mississippi Baptists today.

Editors of the Newton Record (1901-2009)1

by Dr. Harold Graham

The Newton Record was established in December 1901, by Claude E. Cunningham, with the first issued dated December 5, 1901.  After his death in 1926, the newspaper was sold by Mrs. Cunningham to W. C. Mabry.

Mabry became editor and publisher until 1933, when he was appointed postmaster in Newton.  W. C. Mabry, Jr., was editor from the August 31, 1933 edition until the June 24, 1937 edition.

With the July 1, 1937 edition, the masthead lists W. C. Mabry as editor and publisher, W. K. Prince as managing editor, and Annie Rose Mabry as associate.

W. C. Mabry, Sr., died on April 3, 1950.  His obituary was carried on the front page of the April 6 edition with heavy black lines between the columns.  Starting with the April 13, 1950 edition of the paper, the masthead was changed to read “William C. Mabry, twenty-four years from 1926-1950, followed by the previous listing of Prince as managing editor and Annie Rose Mabry as associate.

The same masthead pattern was continued for almost six years.  Then in the February 16, 1956 edition, W. K. Prince is listed as editor and publisher and Annie Rose Mabry as associate editor and publisher.

Although no editor and publisher is listed in the masthead from April 1950 to February 1956, managing editor W. K. Prince was acting in that capacity with assistance from his wife, Lorene (Mabry) Prince, and sister-in-law, Annie Rose Mabry.

The Newton Record was sold in 1972 to a corporation formed by Grace B. Skewes, James B. Skewes, Jack Bouchillion, and Jack Bynum.  Starting with the September 1, 1982 edition, Bynum is listed in the masthead as editor and publisher.  He held that position until the end of May in 1976.

On June 1, 1976, J. E. Strange became editor and publisher.

The last edition of the Record printed using linotype or “hot type” composition method was published on January 22, 1975.  The paper has been printed offset since the January 29, 1975 edition.

A special centennial edition of The Newton Record was published on April 30, 1936 when Newton County celebrated its 100th year, and a 75th anniversary edition was published on February 25, 1976 when the newspaper celebrated its 75th year.

The Newton Record Sesquicentennial Edition, published for December 10, 1986 with 80 pages, is the largest newspaper ever to be published and distributed in Newton County.

J. E. Strange remained publisher and editor until his change in status to advertising agent on October 2, 2002, at which time Ann Myers was appointed publisher and editor.  She remained in that position through the April 2, 2003 edition.  Robby Robertson held this position from April 2003 through January 2009, at which time the newspaper was discontinued because of financial considerations.  The announcement of the closing appeared in The Newton Record, January 7, 2009:

      The Newton Record is closing after 107 years of providing news from Newton
      and surrounding Newton County.  The newspaper will publish its last edition on
      Wednesday, January 14.

      Publisher and Editor Robbie Robertson broke the news to the Record’s staff today.
      The weekly newspaper’s four employees will work their last day January 14.

      The Record is sending notices to subscribers, who will begin receiving delivery
      of The Meridian Star.  Record advertisers will receive letters explaining the
      change and encouraging them to take their business to the Star, based in neigh-
      boring Lauderdale County.

      The Star will take over publication of the Record’s website  Both newspapers are owned by Community News-
      paper Holdings, Inc., of Birmingham, Alabama.

      “I want to thank the community for all of their support.  It’s just a situation that
      didn’t work out,” Robertson said.

      The Record, published every Wednesday, has a paid circulation of more than
      2,400. Robertson is only the sixth publisher listed on the masthead since C. E.
      Cunningham began publishing the Record in 1901.  CNHI acquired the Record
      from American Publishing Co. in 1999.  Robertson became editor and publisher
      in 2002.

Note:  The masthead used during the tenure of Robbie Robertson fails to mention the tenure of William C. Mabry, Jr. and that of Ann Myers:


Robbie Robertson, Editor and Publisher

J. E. Strange, Oct 1976 – Oct 2002

Jack Bynum, Sept 1972 – Oct 1976

W. K. Prince, Apr 1950 – Sept 1972

William C. Mabry, Aug 1926 – Apr 1950

C. E. Cunningham, 1901 – Aug 1926

  1. Special thanks to Kent Prince for assistance with this article.



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