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From its beginning in 1895, Lancaster's Central Record chronicled developments in one of Kentucky's most prosperous agricultural counties and the heart of its burley tobacco production. Lancaster's only newspaper at its inception and for decades thereafter--an unusual distinction in turn-of-the-century Kentucky, where two or more papers were commonplace in towns of similar size--the Central Record offered a mix of international, national, and general interest stories with distinctly local and regional news, exemplifying the eclectic nature of Kentucky's local press.

The Central Record's history is said to have begun in 1883 with an earlier Lancaster title called Central Kentucky News. James R. Marrs, founder and editor of Danville's Kentucky Advocate, purchased the News from M.D. Hughes, renamed it, and in early 1890 presented the Central Record's first issue. In April 1895, Louis Landram and Henry Cartwright bought the Central Record. Just more than a year later, their partnership dissolved, leaving Landram as sole editor and publisher until late 1909. A contemporary described Louis Landram as a relentless advocate for the interests of Lancaster and Garrard County and a proponent of progress as defined by good roads, street lights, and local referendums on the sale of liquor. Landram later edited newspapers in the nearby towns of Richmond and Danville before his death in 1918.

Under Marrs the Central Record was Democratic in its politics, but Landram and Cartwright proudly proclaimed their political independence and emphasized their local focus to current and prospective readers. Tobacco was never far from the newspaper's pages, making for a valuable and sometimes colorful account of Kentucky's volatile economy of smoke. One headline proclaimed local tobacco prices "Higher than a cat's back," and tobacco warehouse advertisements referred to prices paid to local farmers as an enticement to others to seek similarly generous returns. The familiar feature of notes from local correspondents, elsewhere a place for personal news and gossip, was an occasion to announce crop sales in Central Record's pages.

In 1909, Joseph E. Robinson and Frank Saufley Hughes purchased the Central Record from Landram, and the latter served as editor until 1910, when he sold his interest to Green Clay Walker. During Walker's tenure, the Central Record's masthead changed to declare the paper's support for "Pure Religion, Untarnished Democracy and Good Government." In 1912, Walker sold his interest to Joe Robinson, who remained the Central Record's owner until his death in 1942. Robinson, a lawyer and local Democratic politician, remade the paper as an overtly partisan publication. The Central Record became heavily illustrated in the 1910s and 1920s, and it reflected changing times with notices of such innovations as Saturday matinees at Lancaster's Rex Theater, which enabled farm families to take in a movie and return home the same day.

More than a century after James R. Marrs offered a parting wish for the Central Record's longevity, the newspaper he founded continues to publish.

Provided by: University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY