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THE HISTORY OF MARION CO AR|
RESPECT THE COPYRIGHT: This book is still under copyright of the Marion County Historical Association and may not be used for any purpose other than your own personal research. It may not be reproduced nor placed on any web page nor used by anyone or any entity for any type of "for profit" endeveor.
(Page 26) Wherever men have gone seeking new homes, changing wilderness into farms and urban areas, and developing a better way of life, the rural newspaper has had an important pan in the struggle, and to these early newspapers and their editors we are greatly in debt, not only for their recording, publishing, and preserving for our heritage the events, which, to us, are the history of the people and events of Marion County, but also to them for their zeal, their determination, and their fairness to present the news itself without fear or favor. While presenting the news in this method, most of these editors did not shrink from taking positions on highly controversial and emotional issues in their editorials. Many times such editorial comment resulted in cancellation of subscriptions and advertising.
The rural newspapers of a century ago were fragile creatures depending on many things to remain living entities in their communities. The longevity of the early newspapers in Marion County was no exception to this rule as the population was meager and scattered, money was scarce, illiteracy was high and mail service poor.
First to bring the American free press to Marion County were James H. Graham and Frank Mason who founded The Gazette in Yellville in March of 1873. No known copies of this early paper have been located, but, perhaps, somewhere in some attic or closet one or more copies exist, and, hopefully the possessor will come forward and make them available for copying. The Gazette was short-lived, lasting only seventeen months from its inception. Graham and Mason moved to La Crosse in Izard County and established a new paper-The Post. Due to lack of financial support, The Post lasted only two years.
It was twelve years later in July, 1886, that another newspaper effort was launched in Marion County. It was then that Issac F. Clark began the publication of the Yellville Watchman. This venture lasted only two years. During this same period of time, a third newspaper, The Vidette, began publication in Yellville, but it lasted only a few months in 1886.
(Page 27 Top) While the Mountain Echo was not the first newspaper started in Marion County, nor the last to be started, it is, nevertheless, the only one that has survived for nine decades, almost a century, and is now the only county newspaper published in Marion County. It is a healthy, growing, thriving, progressive publication with every indication of a long, healthy, prosperous life.
In 1886, H. B. Dallam brought to Yellville his sheet-fed letterpress and his limited supply of type and presented to the public on March 5 of 1886 the first edition of The Mountain Echo, which became and remains the standard-bearer of Marion County news. This is not to say that The Mountain Echo achieved immediate acceptance and success, 'for after two years of struggle Mr. Dallam was ready to 'throw in the towel' and try his fortune elsewhere.
In the meantime, an energetic young man, with vision of the future for Marion County and with the enthusiasm he manifested for the development of his adopted county for his more than fifty years of public and private life, had come to Marion County. Upon learning that Mr. Dallam was ready to sell or cease publishing The Mountain Echo in 1888, this young man, W. R. Jones, purchased the paper and became the editor and publisher.
In its infancy, The Mountain Echo was much like any other early rural newspaper. Most of the news carried in these frontier papers was "canned", meaning it was supplied, ready to print, on mats which came through the mail and which carried state, national, and even world news as well as some national products advertising. What space left after inserting the mats on the four pages was filled with local news events-marriages, births, deaths, church and school activities, and the local advertisements.
An interesting story has been told as to how The Mountain Echo got its name. According to the story, Mr. Dallam began his paper without selecting a name for it. Believing that success in this venture depended upon acceptance and support of the local people, and desiring to generate local interest in this new paper, he offered a prize-a five year free subscription to the paper-to the one who would submit a name that he would carry as the banner or title of the paper. The story has it that a number of names had been submitted, but none of these fully satisfied Mr. Dallam. He recognized, however, that he must select a name; and as his custom was, particularly on the day he went to press, he arose early and started to his office determined to select a name and carry it on that week's edition.
On this particular day in early April of 1886, a beautiful spring day, flowers blooming, trees putting on their gorgeous new green dresses, fog rising from Crooked Creek and covering the valley, Mr. Dallam stopped to visit for a minute with a native citizen hoping to pick up some news item of local interest. Instead he listened almost with breathless interest to this unlearned man extol the beauties of his surroundings-the flowers, trees, the singing birds, the silver clear streams, the hills and the mountains and concluded with-"these mountains echo this beauty." Mr. Dallam hurried to his office and that issue of the paper carried the caption-The Mountain Echo. The story does not tell the name of the citizen who won the prize without realizing that he had given a name to a newspaper that would remain long after his identity would be forgotten.
Mr. Jones was editor and publisher of the Echo from 1888 until 1893 when F. N. Matthews became associated with him, and they continued publication until 1901 when the paper was sold to T. L Gilley who published it until 1902 before reselling it to Mr. Jones. A short time after Mr. Jones' repurchase, Mr. J. H. Hand became associated with Mr. Jones in the publication. In a short time thereafter, Mr. Hand purchased Mr. Jones' interest and became sole owner, editor and publisher until 1911. In 1911, Mr. Hand sold (Page 28 Top) the paper to a newly formed corporation. The Mountain Echo Publishing corporation, The Mountain Echo Publishing Company, comprised of a number of Yellville businessmen, headed by Mr. Jones. During the period from 1911 to 1914, the Echo was published by the corporation with Mr. Jones primarily as editor.
In 1914, F. N. and Don Matthews, both natives of Marion County, who had been employed by a Batesville newspaper, bought the Echo. They were editors and publishers in 1914 and continued as such until the death of F. N. Matthews in 1936. After that, Don was editor and sole owner until 1946 when Roy L. Sizeniore became a partner.
It might be pointed out that in 1912 while Mr. Jones was still the editor of the Echo, that a rival paper, The Marion County News and Mining Reporter, was begun in Yellville by Mr. J. H. Hand. This paper was successful and was devoted primarily to the promotion and development of the mining industry in Marion County. It carried county-wide items of news interest, and no citizen of Marion County, perhaps, spent more time and energy and no one had more knowledge of the mining industry in the county than did Mr. Hand. With the end of World War I and the collapse of the mining industry in the county, Mr. Hand sold the paper to F. N. and Don Matthews, and it was consolidated with The Mountain Echo in 1919.
In 1954, Don Matthews sold his interest in the Echo to his partner, Roy L. Sizemore, who published it until he sold it to Marvin Bridges in 1955. Mr. Bridges kept the paper only two months before selling it to Jack Tipton, a newspaper man from Eastern Arkansas. Tipton edited the paper until 1959 when Roy L Sizemore, former editor, repurchased the paper and continued to serve as editor and publisher alone until in 1963 when Mr. Sizemore at first sold a half-interest and later a full interest in the paper to Kerm Powers. Mr. Powers enlarged the paper and served as editor and publisher from 1963 to 1975 when he sold it to Rupert Phillips, the owner and present publisher.
Early county newspapers in Marion County were politically oriented, and The Mountain Echo has during most of its years of publication been favorable to the Democratic party, and sometimes its stories have been slanted in that direction.
There were other papers in Marion County that came and went in those 90 years which bear mentioning. One of these was a monthly publication called The School Journal ,started in Yellville in 1891 by Professor W. B. Scroggins. This publication lasted less than one year.
In 1897, Colonel W. A. Webber founded a town around the Maryhattianna Mine and served as postmaster, storekeeper, and Justice of the Peace in the community. Since he was interested in promoting the mining industry, he established a newspaper called The Maryhattianna Herald and published this paper for several years. Also, another paper first published in Maryhattianna was called The Maryhattianna Signal. Later, it was moved to Yellville, and the name changed to Weekly Miner in 1900. It remained in publication for a short time thereafter.
As was pointed out earlier, most early Marion County newspapers were Democratic papers, but there was published in the early 1900's in the then growing mining town of Dodd City a Republican newspaper. No record is left as to how long this paper was published. A second newspaper, The Dodd City Enterprise, was starled in Dodd City by W. T. Williams on September 27, 1901, and remained in publication until 1908.
(Page 29 Top)The only other newspaper mentioned in newspaper histories was a publication, The Bull Shoals Gazette, published by Frank 0. and Nell Strickland for three or four years in the late 1940's. This was published in Flippin for a time and later moved to Missouri. It ceased publication soon after completion of Bull Shoals Dam. Another short-lived newspaper was started in Flippin in 1928. This paper was called The Flippin Leader.
In May, 1972, Roy Sizemore returned to Yellville and started a rival newspaper to The Mountain Echo. It was called The Marion County News. It appears to have been a sort of mouthpiece of one political faction in the county; and for a time, it seemed that Marion County was to have two weekly newspapers. This rivalry between the two papers existed for less than a year for in March, 1973, Kerm Powers, owner and editor of The Mountain Echo, bought the mailing list and name of The Marion County News, and The Mountain Echo became the only weekly newspaper in Marion County.
Thus, our chronicle of Marion County newspapers closes with The Mountain Echo established by H. B. Dallam in 1886, fostered by him for its two years of infancy, kept alive for more than a quarter of a century by W. R. Jones, and then for the next forty years sustained by the Matthews family, remains the only county newspaper; and since copies of it from its beginning remain intact, it is its own best history and is a chronicle of Marion County newspapers.
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Linda Haas Davenport