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The Hickman Courier was established in 1859 by George Warren. A fire in 1861 destroyed the newspaper’s offices, and later attempts to revive the Courier were interrupted by the Civil War. In 1865, the Courier reappeared on a regular weekly schedule. The "Oldest Paper in Western Kentucky" that "Covers Western Kentucky Like Dew," the Courier is still printed on Thursdays 150 years after it began.
The four-page Courier was popular from the start. In 1872, it boasted a circulation of more than 1,100. By the 1920s, the Courier had expanded to 14 pages. Hickman was situated on the Mississippi River, which meant that the Courier circulated in the neighboring states of Missouri, Tennessee, and Illinois. The Courier's primary focus, however, remained the residents of Hickman and Fulton Counties. Columns such as “The Dairy” and “Corner for Farmers” offered agricultural advice to local farmers, reported on market prices, and discussed advances in farming technology. The women of Hickman turned to “Courier’s Home Circle” and “The Kitchen Cabinet” for weekly recipes, sewing circles, and information about domestic life in general. In 1919--the year of Hickman’s centennial celebration, the activities of Judge B.T. Davis appeared in 25 installments of “Looking Backward,” a column that chronicled the city’s history and early traditions.
The Hickman Courier openly supported the Democratic Party, and many of its editors were political and social activists. A topic often discussed in the newspaper was Fulton County’s desire to join Tennessee, an effort that originated before the Civil War. Fulton County is geographically similar to Tennessee, its editor Warren argued in 1871, and the commercial and political interests of the county aligned more with Tennessee than Kentucky. Although the Courier supported separation in principle, it remained loyal to the Commonwealth. “We do not forfeit our attachment or pride for Kentucky,” Warren explained. The proposed cession met defeat in the Kentucky House of Representatives by only one vote.
The Courier has had over 20 editors. Founder George Warren served as editor for 38 years, longer than any other in the paper’s history. After his death in 1903, Warren’s wife took control of the paper for a short time. The Courier switched hands frequently until 1906 when W.C. Speer and J.C. Sexton purchased the publication. By 1922, Will L. Busby took over as owner.
Provided by: University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY