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BY MIKE AVITT
The second story of this week’s picture has a sign for the Mount Ayr Journal.
In 1886, the Journal was located at 121 N. Taylor and would remain there for the rest of its life.
The Headlight newspaper, begun in 1877 in the interest of railroads coming to Ringgold County, had become The Onward in 1878 and changed its focus.
The owners and partners changed frequently on this paper and I will mention two of them.
Watson Edwin Burleigh had been an employee of The Ringgold Record before jumping to The Onward and Mr. Burleigh would become editor of the Mt. Ayr Journal and Tingley Vindicator after his Onward days.
The other is our old friend George Roby.
Remember, Roby came to Mt. Ayr in 1865 helped get the Ringgold Record started with Ith Beall and Warren Turk.
In 1879, Roby became partners in The Onward with J. H. Burke. Roby had many, well-positioned relatives in Mt. Ayr, but The Onward had become an unpopular paper and it folded in December 1884.
At the time The Onward was failing, three papers were on their way up.
The Ringgold Record was making great strides under editor George Stephens. New equipment, new building, and higher quality content kept the Ringgold Record on top.
With The Onward gone, The Mt. Ayr Journal was now catering to the Democrat and Greenback parties.
The Journal had changed its name and lost its direction until being purchased by J. W. Burleigh in 1883. Burleigh sold the Journal to J. S. Shepherd, of Corydon, in November 1884 and Shepherd, being a veteran of Democratic newspapers, gave the Journal more “bite.”
The third up-and-comer was the newly established Ringgold Republican in 1885.
The paper was begun by Mr. Wisdom and Rev. James H. Tedford. R. B. Williams bought the interest of Wisdom soon after the paper started. The Republican was, as the name says, a Republican Party newspaper. So, now the city had two Republican newspapers.
The big difference was the editorials written by Rev. Tedford who would become widely known for his columns.
Before the Republican was two years old, the owners bought the Ringgold Record and merged the two papers in March 1887, keeping the Ringgold Record name and building.
In March 1889, Robert B. Williams retired from the firm. At some point, Rev. Tedford’s son, Howard joined the newspaper and Howard would eventually become part-owner.
So, now Mount Ayr was back to two newspapers…….but not for long. The 1890s would see two more newspapers representing the same minority political party. See you next week.