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Kirksville Weekly Graphic
The Kirksville Weekly Graphic began publication in 1880 under the proprietorship of James M. Swetnam, an area physician, and William M. Gill, formerly the editor of the Kirksville Journal. The four-page Graphic, printed on Fridays (Saturdays in 1880), covered news of the town, county, and state; local and general markets; immigration notes; county, state, and national politics; general news; and current literature. The paper also featured columns dedicated to home economics such as the “Home Circle,” containing recipes, agricultural tips, and health and household advice. The paper often printed a Christian religious article in its “Sunday Reading” column and usually contained a “Directory” section of both local church services and society meetings. The front page typically featured serialized fiction. The Graphic provided detailed accounts of commerce, real estate transactions, and other developments in the Kirksville area and in the neighboring counties of Scotland, Putnam, Macon, Schuyler, and Sullivan. Instead of using enlarged headlines, news items were organized in short paragraphs or notations.
In a prospectus, the publisher stated, “The Graphic will be pronounced and uncompromising in its advocacy of Republican doctrines, and will discuss all the political issues of the coming campaign from that standpoint.” Graphic editorials described the paper as “Republican through and through” (May 1, 1880) and argued, “We oppose democracy because we believe it embodies the reactionary sentiment of the country” (September 11, 1880). Editorials consistently focused on national and Missouri politics, Republican political and legislative concerns, major international events, and moral and social issues.
By September 11, 1880, the Graphic claimed to be “The largest paper in Missouri outside the great cities.” The editor of the Brookfield Gazette described the Graphic as a “lively kicker” (May 29, 1880). One reader criticized the paper’s direct style for “exhibit[ing] entirely too much frank, outspoken independence to succeed” (May 8, 1880). The Graphic, however, attributed its success to being “Honest to itself, its readers and its principles” (May 27, 1881).
In 1883, Thomas E. Sublette purchased the paper from Swetnam and took over as editor two years later. Sublette continued the Graphic’s style of directness and humor. On May 20, 1887, an editorial proclaimed, “The Graphic ‘championed’ a cause a few months ago, which the financial statements published in this issue, shows to have saved to the tax payers of the county many hundreds of dollars. Will the editors and proprietors of the Kirksville Journal, please put this in their pipes and smoke it?”
Upon Sublette’s death in 1931, John F. Case and H. Greene Simpson took over the paper, and in 1939 Simpson became the sole owner. Under Simpson’s control, the Graphic began to incorporate headlines. In 1949, the title changed to the Kirksville Graphic and finally suspended publication because of financial difficulties in February 1953.
Provided by: State Historical Society of Missouri; Columbia, MO