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The Graham Guardian and Safford Rattler
The Safford Graham Guardian began its run in 1895 as a weekly Democratic newspaper published by the Guardian Publishing Company and edited by John J. Birdno. Safford had been the first seat of Graham County when it was formed in 1881, but the seat was moved to Solomonville after only two years. The issue of moving the county seat from Solomonville back to Safford became a topic of fervent conversation during Birdno’s editorship, with both the Graham Guardian and the short-lived Safford Rattler supporting the move.
The Safford Rattler was created on September 2, 1896, with Robert S. Patterson as editor and the Court House Executive Committee as publisher. The sole purpose of the paper was to promote the return of the county seat to Safford. Patterson claimed in the September 16, 1896 issue of the Rattler that “The county seat was taken from Safford by the fraud and boodle of that one [land] owner, and he and his men endeavor to hold it by the same means.” After only five issues, the Safford Rattler admitted defeat and closed its doors. The issue did not make it to the ballot that year, and Solomonville remained the county seat until June 1915, when Safford defeated Pima in a close race.
Two years later, in 1917, Birdno left the Graham Guardian and John F. Weber took over the editorial reins, which he held until 1922 when W. M. Moore and Clyde W. Ijams stepped in. On May 2, 1923, the newspaper consolidated with the Pima Gila Valley Farmer and changed its title to the Graham County Guardian and Gila Valley Farmer under the editorial direction of William B. Kelly, formerly editor of the Bisbee Daily Review . Kelly ran the Graham County Guardian and Gila Valley Farmer until 1943, when the Gila Printing and Publishing Company purchased it from him and changed the masthead back to the Graham County Guardian.
In 1946, Earl Hunt became editor of the Graham County Guardian. The Safford Eastern Arizona Courier merged with the Graham County Guardian in 1975 to become the Eastern Arizona Courier and Graham County Guardian. In 1984, the newspaper changed its masthead one last time, becoming simply the Eastern Arizona Courier, a weekly periodical that remains in operation today.