County Papers Kept Early And Present History Alive
Many people who have come to read the Chronicle have thought of it
as Jefferson County's oldest and only newspaper, but records show that
journalists were recording the history of our county as early as 1830.
"THE RODNEY GAZETTE" was started as a political publication and
supported the philosophy of John Adams and Henry Clay, who were leaders of
the Whig party. They opposed the group known as the "Jackson Men," who
were supporters of President Andrew Jackson.
Printing in those days was a tedious affair which required long
hours of setting type by hand, inking the finished plates, and then
proofing the product on a screw-turned pressed. In 1859, the Jefferson
County Weekly Journal published an editorial which gives us a glimpse of
these early printers’ lives. That is also reflected in the modern
technical age of printing a newspaper. It reads as follows: “The Life of a
Printer.” “Printers, it is said, die at an early age.” This doubtless
caused by the noxious effluvia rising from the types, want of exercise,
constant employment, and the late hours to which their work is prolonged.
There is no other class of human beings whose privileges are so few,
whose labor is so continuous, whose wages are so inadequate as printers.
If a "Typo" be a man of family, he is debarred of the privileges of
enjoying their society at all times, because his hours of labor are almost
endless, and his moments of leisure so few that they must be spent to
recruit his exhausted energies, and prepare him for the renewal of his
toils. Poor fellow! He knows nothing of sociability, and is shut out from
the world as a convict in a prison cell. Truly he is in the world, but
knows not of it. Toil--toil—toil, by night and by day, is his fate, until
premature old age ends his existence. For the advancement of science,
morality, and virtue, the chords of his heart are severed-- he goes down
to the grave uncared for and unknown, though his existence has been
sacrificed for the benefit of his race.
"When we hear mechanics cry out against oppression, and demanding
certain hours for labor and for rest, we cannot but reflect upon this
situation of our own craft; how every moment of their lives is forced into
service to earn a bare subsistence, how uncomplainingly they devote
themselves to the food of that public, who wear them as a loose garment to
be donned when convenient, and doffed when no longer needed.
"Printers are universally poor men, and for two reasons. The first
is they rarely ever receive a fair compensation for their services, and
the second is that inured to continued suffering privation and toil, their
purse strings are ever untied at the bidding of charity, and the
hard-earned 'dimes' are freely distributed for the relief of their
fellowmen, Thus it is that they live poor, die poor, and if a suitable
reward does not await them after death, and indeed must by the beginning,
the existence and the
end, of a poor 'typos' PRINTER.”
In 1839 the paper now named the "RODNEY STANDARD" was moved to
Fayette, and its name was changed to "THE SOUTHERN WATCHTOWER." W. B. Tebo
was the editor and remained at the post until 1845 when H. M. Youngblood
took over. The Watchtower had the responsibility of keeping up with the
legal notices, police warrants and minutes published by the County Board
of Supervisors. In this way they were able to communicate to the people
the political happenings of the day.
In 1858 the Watchtower merged with "THE JEFFERSON JOURNAL."
Few copies are said to exist of this publication, and the only information
available is from records kept in the county courthouse.
In 1866 the forerunner of the "FAYETTE CHRONICLE" was published and
William Marschalk was then listed as its editor. Subscription to the
Chronicle was listed at $4.00 a year during the first year in operation.
In 1869 the Chronicle was sold to two gentlemen named Paddock and
Culley. In addition to the Chronicle they started a venture called "THE
NEW SOUTH" but it lasted for only a year.
Ownership then changed hands to a Mrs. H. S. Whitney in 1894 and she
continued to operate the paper until the Schober Printery bought it in
1902. A young gentlemen known as B.C. Knapp became the general manager and
it was Mr. Knapp who eventually is credited with Schober in printing the
1904 Exposition Edition.
The records go on to show from 1905 until 1908 Geo. V. D. Schober
operated the paper. In 1908, B.C. Knapp, "Mr. Bennie" took the paper over
to own and operate The Fayette Chronicle until the year 1952. During some
of these years he was assisted by his son Edwin Knapp.
After Mr. Knapp death in 1952, the paper was bought in September
1952 by I. Hunt Howell. Mr. Howell sold the paper in May 1955 to L. M.
McKnight and Mr. Howell returned to Batesville, Mississippi as Editor of
the weekly newspaper there, The Panolian.
On June 5, 1958, Mr. and Mrs. Jimmie Walker, purchased the paper and
operated it until 1978 with Mrs. Walker as Editor and Mr. Walker as