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Daily Herald and The Brownsville Daily Herald
During the 1892 state Democratic convention, James B. (“Jim”) Wells, local Democratic Party boss, persuaded Jessie O. Wheeler of Victoria to publish a Democratic-affiliated newspaper in Brownsville. Wheeler had experience managing The Victoria Advocate and The Victoria Review. Soon after arriving in Brownsville, Wheeler purchased the Daily Cosmopolitan, renamed it The Daily Herald, and published its first issue on July 4, 1892. Wheeler published the paper under this title until 1897. Succeeding titles of The Daily Herald (for example, The Brownsville Daily Herald), have been published continuously in Brownsville to the present day. The Daily Herald was issued daily in the afternoon, except for Sundays, at an annual subscription rate of $8.00. By the end of its run, The Daily Herald enjoyed a modest circulation of 480 subscribers, and throughout its lifetime it measured 15 by 22 inches.
Born in Alabama, a veteran of the Confederate Army, and described by a journalist colleague as an “energetic newspaper man,” Wheeler brought an outspoken, enterprising flavor to The Daily Herald. The paper’s editorials championed Democratic policies and candidates (likewise denouncing Republicans and Independents), and it also published proceedings from the Cameron County Democratic Convention. Its energy was not only confined to politics; the paper also emerged as a prominent booster for Brownsville and Cameron County. An 1893 advertisement stated it well: The Daily Herald “is entirely devoted to development and progress [of] Cameron, Hidalgo, and Starr Counties, Texas.”
Wheeler used The Daily Herald to campaign for local railroad connections and to promote the bountiful business, agricultural, and distribution opportunities in Brownsville. He advocated for the area’s real estate riches through The Goodrich Real Estate and Southwest Immigration Bureau, of which he was secretary and Herald columnist. In the paper’s early years, Wheeler’s wife acted as assistant editor and writer, and, on at least one occasion, when her husband was ill, served as business manager.
The paper’s masthead maintained a clean, uncluttered banner, employing an Old English font for its simple title. Furthermore, no advertisements appeared in the masthead. Below the masthead, however, a host of advertisements occupied half of the front page, and one business card in particular appeared above the fold in most issues: James B. Wells, Attorney-at-Law.
Wheeler, along with Wells and his faction of Democratic supporters, withstood the criticisms and attacks from Independent and other Democratic papers such as The Lower Rio Grande to become the dominant newspaper in Brownsville.
Provided by: University of North Texas; Denton, TX