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Arkansas intelligencer. [volume] : (Van Buren, Ark.) 1842-1859
Alternative Titles:
  • Intelligencer
Place of publication:
Van Buren, Ark.
Geographic coverage:
  • Van Buren, Crawford, Arkansas  |  View more titles from this: City County, State
Van Horne & Sterne
Dates of publication:
  • Began Jan. 22, 1842; ceased in Sept. 1859.
  • English
  • Arkansas--Crawford County.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01209402
  • Arkansas--Van Buren.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01211931
  • Crawford County (Ark.)--Newspapers.
  • Van Buren (Ark.)--Newspapers.
  • Also issued on microfilm from the Library of Congress, Photoduplication Service.
  • Description based on: Vol. 1, no. 27 (July 22, 1842).
sn 82016488
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Arkansas intelligencer. [volume] March 4, 1843 , Image 1


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Arkansas Intelligencer

In January 1842, Francis M. Van Horne and Thomas Sterne moved to Van Buren, the Crawford County seat, and founded the Arkansas Intelligencer. Van Buren was close to Indian Territory (Oklahoma), just five miles from the border, near Fort Smith in Northwest Arkansas. The Intelligencer was the first newspaper in Arkansas west of Little Rock. The editors boasted that the paper would "go East from a point farther West than was ever paper printed in the United States." Van Horne and Sterne wrote that their paper was politically neutral, with the slogan "let every freeman speak his thoughts." The Intelligencer was published every Saturday. It included advertisements from steamboats traveling the Arkansas River that stopped at Van Buren on their way to New Orleans, Louisiana and Cincinnati, Ohio. Despite the port in town, river travel was uncertain in the mid-1800s, and some of the Intelligencer issues were published on small sheets of paper with an editor note that they had not yet received their shipment of newsprint.

Before Van Horne and Sterne founded the Intelligencer, they lived in Little Rock where they were involved in several types of printing jobs. In 1839, Little Rock businessperson and gang leader Samuel G. Trowbridge directed his gang to create counterfeit bank notes. He hired Van Horne, who worked at the Arkansas State Gazette (1836-1850), to print the notes. In 1841, Trowbridge again had Van Horne create counterfeit notes. At that time, Van Horne worked at the Arkansas Times and Advocate (1837-1844), where he stole pieces of type from the newspaper office to print the banknotes. Sterne, another printer in the Trowbridge gang, also helped produce the notes. The following year, Van Horne and Sterne moved to Van Buren to begin their paper.

Back in Little Rock, Trowbridge became the mayor in May 1842. Soon after taking office, Trowbridge's wife was caught using stolen bank notes. This led to the arrest of Trowbridge, Van Horne, and other gang members for their involvement in the criminal activities. After serving only 8 months as mayor, Trowbridge left office to serve jailtime, where he earned a reduced sentence of five years in exchange for providing information on gang members and the location of the counterfeiting equipment. Van Horne was sentenced to six and a half years in the state penitentiary.

Sterne avoided jailtime and continued working at the Intelligencer. In 1842, he hired John Foster Wheeler to replace Van Horne as editor. Wheeler previously worked in Georgia, where he was the printer for the first Native American newspaper in a native language, the Cherokee Phoenix (1828-1829). From there, Wheeler moved to Indian Territory, where he printed many works in Cherokee, Creek, and Choctaw. Wheeler left Indian Territory after encountering tribal infighting and moved to Van Buren where he joined the Intelligencer. The Intelligencer included news segments from Indian Territory, which had no newspapers at the time. Wheeler left the Intelligencer in 1843 and returned to Indian Territory and resumed printing works in Native languages. He eventually settled in Fort Smith, where he founded the first newspaper in the city, the Fort Smith Herald (1847-18??).

In 1843, George Washington Clarke joined the Intelligencer. In 1844, Sterne left, and Clarke assumed control, changing the Intelligencer from neutral to Democratic. This incited Sterne to begin a rival newspaper, the Western Frontier Whig (1844-1846), and hire John S. Logan as editor. What followed were "warm controversies" between the two papers stemming from the editors' political rivalry and opposing personalities. Clarke was described as brilliant, but impulsive and forceful. After the men turned to personal insults, with Clark calling Logan "Big Mush," who returned the insult with "Toady Clarke," they agreed to duel. In 1844, Logan and Clarke held their rifle duel in Indian Territory. At 60 paces they fired and missed their marks, and the "smell of powder and bad marksmanship led to reconciliation." In 1845, the Intelligencer included the following caveat for ads they would allow: "No advertisements of a gross, abusive, personal nature, will be published at any price." Later that year Clarke left the Intelligencer, and the following year the Whig folded.

From 1845 to 1847, Josiah Woodward Washbourne and Cornelius David Pryor ran the Intelligencer. Washbourne was the older brother of Edward Payson Washbourne, who created the famous Arkansas Traveler painting around 1855.

In 1847, Clarke returned to the Intelligencer and ran it alone until 1853. His issues had strong guest contributors, including one writing under the name "Clementine," who was said to be a 13-year-old girl living in Fayetteville. During this time Clarke served in the Arkansas House and Senate. In 1853, he left the Intelligencer for the final time, along with his position as Senator, after being appointed Indian Agent for the Pottawatomie Indians in Kansas Territory. Once there, Clarke became notorious during the Bleeding Kansas era as a ruthless proslavery leader. After the Civil War ended, Clarke moved to Mexico City, Mexico where he started the Dos Republicas ("Two Republics") newspaper.

Anslem Clarke, George Clarke's brother, took over the Intelligencer in 1853 when George left. He was described as a "frank, sincere, warm-hearted man" and a "brilliant writer." Anslem ran the paper until his death in 1859, and the Intelligencer folded. The Intelligencer newspaper plant was purchased by William Henry Mayers and moved to Fort Smith, where he used it to start the Democratic Thirty-Fifth Parallel (1859-1861), which ran until the Civil War.

Provided by: Arkansas State Archives