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White Cloud Kansas Chief and The Weekly Kansas Chief
The White Cloud Kansas Chief (1857-72) and its successor, The Weekly Kansas Chief (1872-1918), were made notable by their founder and editor, Sol (Solomon) Miller, a pioneer of Kansas newspaper publishing. Founded in a time when most newspapers lasted a few years at most, Miller published the Chief for nearly forty years. Shortly after arriving in White Cloud, Kansas Territory, Miller issued the first edition of the White Cloud Kansas Chief on June 4, 1857. The four-page newspaper was published every Thursday. Doniphan County, located in the northeastern corner of the state, was no stranger to the controversy over slavery then engulfing the nation. The Chief's Free-State Republican stance was clearly stated in its simple motto, “The Constitution and the Union.”
Miller was the epitome of the frontier editor--outspoken, sometimes humorous, and often vitriolic. The first newspaper in Doniphan County was proslavery and Democratic--the Kansas Constitutionalist, edited by Thomas J. Key. On September 10, 1857, Miller culminated an editorial exchange with Key: “We did not exactly tell the truth about him. We said his name was Thomas Jefferson Key. We beg Thomas Jefferson’s pardon—it should have been Thomas Jack-ass Key! (No insult intended to jack-asses generally.)….Thomas J. Key occupies a position which makes him public property—or rather, a public nuisance—and we intend to take a long pole, with a hook and spike in one end of it, and haul him about and turn him over and hold up his rotten filthy carcass to the gaze of the public, until it makes all decent men gag and turn in disgust!” Rival newspaper editors and politicians of any party were often the target of Miller’s abuse. Miller himself served several terms in the Kansas State Senate and one in the Kansas House, although later he made light of his legislative accomplishments.
Looking back on the development of the White Cloud Kansas Chief, Miller wrote, “In those times, Kansas was full of aspiring towns, each destined to become a metropolis, and every town, at the very start, must have a newspaper….We have been told that had we located in some large city or political center, the Chief might have become some great paper. They forget that when we came to Kansas, every town expected to become a mighty city.” To promote interest in White Cloud, Miller would frequently distribute copies of the Chief, locally and nationally, free of charge.
In 1872, Miller moved the White Cloud Kansas Chief to Troy, the seat and commercial center of Doniphan County, seeking greater support and advertisements. He changed the paper’s name to The Weekly Kansas Chief. The four-page newspaper appeared every Thursday; beginning in June 1880, its motto read, “Talk for Home, Fight for Home, Patronize Home.” In 1875, the The Weekly Kansas Chief absorbed the Doniphan County Republican”, which had been established in 1868. Miller died in 1897. In 1918, The Weekly Kansas Chief was succeeded by the Kansas Chief, which remains an active newspaper.
Provided by: Kansas State Historical Society; Topeka, KS