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Barton County democrat. [volume] : (Great Bend, Kan.) 1885-1915
Place of publication:
Great Bend, Kan.
Geographic coverage:
  • Great Bend, Barton, Kansas  |  View more titles from this: City County, State
Democrat Printing Co.
Dates of publication:
  • -v. 31, no. 49 (Feb. 12, 1915).
  • Began in 1885.
  • English
  • Great Bend (Kan.)--Newspapers.
  • Kansas--Great Bend.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01219137
  • Archived issues are available in digital format as part of the Library of Congress Chronicling America online collection.
  • Available on microfilm from Micro Photo.
  • Editor: Dewey Langford.
sn 83040198
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Barton County democrat. [volume] November 11, 1886 , Image 1


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Barton County Democrat

The Barton County Democrat was founded in 1885 as a weekly Democratic newspaper in Great Bend, Kansas. During its run, the Democrat was known as the "Official County paper of Barton County," the "Official Paper for Great Bend," and the "Official County Paper." Content included a large amount of legal notices, marriage announcements, obituaries, local advertisements, and news from the nearby Barton County towns of Claflin, Hoisington, Olmitz, Ellinwood, Pawnee Rock, and the surrounding townships. Circulation peaked in 1907 at 1,950 with city and county population at 3,365 and 15,147, respectively.

The paper was founded by Dewey Langford who served as both editor and proprietor. Will E. Stoke joined the organ as co-editor and proprietor in March 1887, and Langford left soon after. Stoke managed the Democrat alone until January 1903 when he was joined by William P. Feder, a probate judge and the previous publisher of the Ellinwood Advocate, also of Barton County. Stoke retired in November 1906 after nearly 20 years at the Democrat, and Feder served as publisher until January 1913 when John K. McMullen took over ownership. In his valediction statement, Feder lamented: "We started into this chapter with some money and very little newspaper experience. We make the last period with no money, several thousand dollars in debts hanging over us, and heaps of experience." Feder went on to say: "We trust that time will deal more kindly with John in his management of the Democrat than it did with us." McMullen remained with the Democrat until its end.

Starting in June 1905, the first page of every issue ran a single headline across the width of the sheet which contained thoughts on current affairs, special notices, or humorous quips. The first headline, printed between May 29and June 3, 1905, was a notice for the "Grant Street Fair at Great Bend"; other examples include: "Now That Election Over This Paper Will Grow Better"(1906), "Get the Money-Making Noise By Advertising in Your Local Paper" (1909), and "We Don't Approve of Gossip, but if you want to know what your Neighbors are doing, read the Democrat" (1912). These banners changed almost daily and usually only remained the same when promoting ongoing local events.

The Barton County Democrat absorbed the local People's Party paper the Great Bend Beacon in February 1903, consolidating both their subscription lists and printing equipment and creating "one of the best equipped printing establishments in Kansas." On February 15, 1915, the Democrat switched to a daily publication called the Daily Barton County Democrat. The latter ran for a short time before reverting back to the original name of Barton County Democrat on July 14, 1915, while remaining a daily paper. In order to cut costs, the Barton County Democrat joined with local Great Bend Tribune on December 2, 1918, forming the Barton County Democrat and the Great Bend Tribune. The editors of both papers, John K. McMullen and Will L. Townsley, ran the new publication, which continued until 1925.

Provided by: Kansas State Historical Society; Topeka, KS