Looking Back: Kentucky Press Association dates back to 1869

January 25, 2004|RICHARD C. BROWN

It so happened that a group of Kentucky publishers and editors organized a Kentucky Press Association in 1869. The founders believed such an organization would help to restore unity to the Commonwealth torn by schisms and strains of the Civil War years. One measure of the association's success is that it still exists with its headquarters in Frankfort.

In 1994, the Association marked its 125th Anniversary by publishing a book called "The Press of Kentucky." By that time, close to 150 Kentucky newspapers were enrolled as association members. The book begins with eight succinct chapters summarizing the high points in a history of Kentucky newspapers from the time of John Bradford's Kentucky Gazette until the 1990s. Sixty illustrations scattered among the eight chapters add life and color to the account.

How many different newspapers have been published in Kentucky since the Kentucky Gazette became the first? No one knows for certain. The University of Kentucky Library, however, was able to compile a list of more than a 1,000 published in 231 separate Kentucky locations at some time between 1787 and 1994. This list follows the eight historical chapters and covers 10 pages in "The Press of Kentucky" under the heading "Every Newspaper Ever Published in Kentucky: A Town-by-Town Listing."


Understandably, more different newspapers have been published in Louisville and Lexington than in any of the other locations in Kentucky. But Frankfort also has been the birthplace of a sizeable number of newspapers, as have Bowling Green, Covington and Maysville.

On the opposite end of quantity are those sites that have produced only one newspaper. There are 38 of these in the list. They bear such interesting names as The Pendleton Reformer, The Livingston Era, Jackson County Panther and Mammoth Cave's The Cave Man.

Among the newspapers no longer published in 1994 are some of the most puzzling names. Why did a publisher in Scottsville choose The Gin Pole as the name for his paper? What was the reason for a newspaper called Chinese Junk in Maysville? And was the Frankfort paper called Nixon's Phiz devoted to the face of our 37th President?

However, "The Press of Kentucky" has much more than a list of newspapers, some of which had unusual names. There are individual histories of 167 different Kentucky newspapers, one page for each. Most have a picture or two with their history.

Nineteen newspapers have been published in Danville

Nineteen different newspapers have been published in Danville. The Kentucky Advocate and The Advocate-Messenger are the survivors. James L. Marrs created the Advocate in 1865 and it had little competition until the early 20th century. G.W. Doneghy, W. Vernon Richardson and W.0. McIntyre, a trio of able editors, guided it with considerable success. It became a daily in 1911 and a member of the Associated Press in 1914.

Although always interested in politics, few newspaper editors have held public office. McIntyre was one who did. He was elected mayor of Danville in 1917 and continued to serve as mayor until 1933.

A local merchant, Hubert McGoodwin, founded the Danville Messenger in 1910 as a competitor of the Advocate. J. Curtis Alcock, an experienced editor and publisher, bought the Danville Messenger in 1918, and turned it into a daily a year later. In addition to being editor and publisher of the local paper, Alcock served as secretary-treasurer of the Kentucky Press Association for 31 years, 1911-1942.

J.S. VanWinkle, a Danville financier, helped Alcock to consolidate the two Danville daily papers in 1940. The new consolidation took The Advocate-Messenger and published Monday through Friday under that name. The Kentucky Advocate became a Saturday afternoon paper before changing in 1950 to a Sunday paper.

The Harrodsburg Herald, The Lebanon Enterprise, The Casey County News and The Springfield Sun are newspapers published in county seats in the vicinity of Boyle County. Each has a one-page history, plus pictures, in "The Press of Kentucky."

The preface to "The Press of Kentucky" has this to say: "Throughout time it has been the role of newspapers to record history, not create it. Still, the history of newspaper publishing and the individual newspapers involved and those people who wrote for and managed those newspapers are as much a part of our society as the many other elements which make it a whole."

Richard C. Brown, a retired history professor, lives in Danville.

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