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The Spout Spring Times
On January 18, 1896, the Spout Spring Times debuted in Spout Springs, "the future metropolis of Estill County." Heralded as the only newspaper in the county, the Times dispensed each week local news and advertising to the surrounding Appalachian foothill communities and nearby Bluegrass hubs.
Owned, edited, and published by J.E. Burgher, Jr., the Times was a physically small four-page circular in 1896. Burgher asserted that "This paper is not political, yet the editor is a Democrat." No surprise, then, that as the paper grew in circulation and physical size, so, too, did its involvement in county politics, with the Times eventually becoming an openly Democratic paper. During its first year, the paper's text quality imitated its motto: "A Home Made Paper." The quality eventually improved, and, by year two, a real masthead was introduced: "We Are Here to help Spoutspring, the Surrounding Country, and Ourselves," finally lending some credence to the paper's journalistic ambitions.
Burgher was a businessman first and foremost. Not only did he advertise his own Spout Springs general store in his paper, but he peddled the services of his Times Printing Company as well, which likely operated out of the general store. Some competitors even speculated that Burgher's quest for mercantile business was his sole reason for starting the paper. That may indeed be the case. The Times' first issue was free. To boost content, Burgher announced that "All columns are free for any advertisement our patrons may wish to be made." He soon solicited readers for local news to fill the pages of the paper. By the third issue, the Times was being paired with larger papers like the Courier-Journal, Toledo Blade, and Cincinnati Enquirer for as little as $.65 a year. Such "club" subscriptions offered Times readers a broader pallet of national and international news than the Times alone could provide. These "clubbings" and Burgher's entrepreneurship enabled the paper's steady and continued growth.
For three short weeks in 1897, Burgher leased the Spout Spring Times and the Times Printing Company to Claude P. McIntosh, "owing to [having] so much other business to attend to." For reasons unknown, Burgher quickly resumed ownership of the Times, but the paper's death knell sounded in September 1901 when Burgher's general store burned to the ground. Burgher moved his family four miles to Clay City in neighboring Powell County where he established the Clay City Times. The Spout Spring Times suspended operations during the move but reappeared concurrently with the Clay City Times from March 13 to April 3, 1902. It is unclear why the Spout Spring Times was published so briefly after relocating to Powell County or why it ceased publication altogether. Today, the town of Spout Springs is little more than the junction of state highway 82 and Spout Springs Road.
Provided by: University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY