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The Southern star. : (DeKalb, Miss.) 1898-1908
Place of publication:
DeKalb, Miss.
Geographic coverage:
  • DeKalb, Kemper, Mississippi  |  View more titles from this: City County, State
J.T. Gewin
Dates of publication:
  • Began in 1898; ceased in 1908.
  • English
  • DeKalb (Miss.)--Newspapers.
  • Mississippi--DeKalb.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01232702
  • Archived issues are available in digital format from the Library of Congress Chronicling America online collection.
  • Description based on: Vol. 3, no. 44 (Oct. 24, 1900).
sn 87065057
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The Southern star. October 24, 1900 , Image 1


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The Kemper Herald and The Southern Star

East-central Mississippi, where Kemper County is located, is part of the traditional Choctaw homeland. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, crops, primarily cotton and corn, thrived in the county's prairies; lumbering contributed to the economy in forested areas. First incorporated in 1838, DeKalb, the county seat, occupies the site of an older Choctaw town.

From 1892–1903, The Kemper Herald (1875–1908), earliest in a long-running string of related titles, was published by Miss Brinkley "Binnie" Vinson in the railroad town, Scooba, the largest settlement in the county at the time. In nearby DeKalb, John Thomas Gewin edited another four-page weekly, distributed on Wednesdays, known as the The Southern Star (1898–1908). The Star supported the short-lived Populist Party (1892–1909), the political arm of the turn-of-the century agrarian movement. The two papers united in 1908 to form The Kemper Herald-Star. By 1910, John Thomas Gewin's son, Crawford, published the merged title and continued the Herald's support of the Democratic Party. The 1923 edition of N. W. Ayers & Son's American Newspaper Annual and Directory indicates that the title had reverted to the Kemper Herald. After absorbing The DeKalb Sentinel in 1932, the newspaper became the Kemper County Messenger. From 1936–42, Crawford Gewin's older brother, John, published the Messenger. John's son, Mercer, edited the journal and wrote the column "Here, There, and Yonder" until Lamar Sledge purchased the paper in 1943. The Sledge family owned and managed the Messenger for the next 60 years; as of 2021, it is published on Thursdays in DeKalb.

The county was nicknamed "Bloody Kemper" due to extremely violent reprisals between Democrats and Republicans in the 1870s, climaxing in the 1877 killings of Democrat John Gully, a former sheriff, and Republican Judge William W. Chisholm and two of his children. The Herald made reference to this period in a November 13, 1902 article on the beating of two "Negros" by the revived Ku Klux Klan in adjacent Neshoba County. The article opined that, "outrages of this sort which were very frequent during the election troubles of the reconstruction period are very rare nowadays …." Yet the paper supported white supremacist James K. Vardaman in his successful bid for governor (1904–08). Anti-Republican comments were common in 1902 issues as the paper blamed the numerous nationwide strikes on that political party. Democrat Guy Jack, author of the booklet Iconoclast in which he wrote about the Chisholm murders, insurance swindles, and other corruption in Kemper County, and his family, appeared frequently in the social and business news in the Herald. Other early twentieth century Mississippi events mentioned in the newspaper were the construction and opening of the new state capitol, erection of monuments in the recently opened Vicksburg National Military Park, adoption of child labor laws, and the establishment of state agricultural high schools.

Provided by: Mississippi Department of Archives and History