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The Weekly Washington telegraph. : (Washington, Ark.) 1871-18??
Place of publication:
Washington, Ark.
Geographic coverage:
  • Washington, Hempstead, Arkansas  |  View more titles from this: City County, State
J.E. Borden
Dates of publication:
  • Began in 1871.
  • English
  • Arkansas--Hempstead County.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01214091
  • Arkansas--Washington (Hempstead County)--fast--(OCoLC)fst01325607
  • Hempstead County (Ark.)--Newspapers.
  • Washington (Hempstead County, Ark.)--Newspapers.
  • Description based on: Old ser., v. 30, no. 42 (May 31, 1871) = new ser., v. 1, no. 4.
sn 89051253
Preceding Titles:
Succeeding Titles:
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The Weekly Washington telegraph. May 10, 1871 , Image 1


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Washington Telegraph, The Weekly Washington Telegraph, and Journal-Telegraph

Washington, in southwestern Arkansas, was the first Hempstead County seat. During the Civil War, Washington became Arkansas's Confederate capital in 1863 after Little Rock was taken by Union forces. When railroads were built in the county, they bypassed Washington and instead stopped at a nearby railroad station, which grew into the new town of Hope. In 1939, Hope replaced Washington as the Hempstead County seat.

In 1839, William Henry Etter founded the Washington Telegraph. The previous year, Etter had moved to Washington from Pennsylvania, bringing a "meager" printing press with him. The Telegraph was the first Arkansas paper published southwest of Little Rock. At that time, Washington had a population of about 400, and there were only five post offices in Hempstead County. For the first several years, the Telegraph was politically independent, but it later supported and was influential in the Whig Party. Once the Whig party disintegrated in the 1850s, it became a Democratic paper. One famous citizen in Washington was recognized by the Telegraph in 1841. The paper reported that more than a decade before, local blacksmith James Black made the first bowie knife used by James Bowie. The Etter family was involved in the publication of the Telegraph throughout its 100-year run, bringing on many editors and managers over the years.

John Rogers Eakin was a lawyer and editor of the Telegraph in the leadup to and during the Civil War. Wyatt C. Thomas, an eccentric character, helped publish the Telegraph from 1859-1860. R. C. Brady was the publisher during the war. The Telegraph was the only newspaper in Arkansas that continued publishing throughout the Civil War. Before the Civil War, Eakin was opposed to secession and used the Telegraph to espouse his position. However, after the Battle of Fort Sumpter ignited the war in 1861, Eakin advocated for Southern secession. When the Confederate State Government of Arkansas fled to Washington, the Telegraph was given the state printing contract, making it the official organ of the Arkansas Confederacy. Due to the paper shortage during the war, the Telegraph was printed on anything available, including wallpaper. Despite all the difficulties, the paper printed a "first class history of the struggle, especially inside the Confederate lines."

While Eakin was running the Telegraph, Etter was likewise working for the state. In 1865 Etter was deployed to Texas and Mexico as a state agent to procure supplies for destitute Arkansans. Upon his return to Arkansas in the final week of the Civil War, he was arrested by federal troops. Etter was jailed in Texas, where he contracted pneumonia and died.

Eakin left the Telegraph in 1866 after carrying it through the Civil War when he was elected to the State Legislature. Eakin served in the 1874 constitutional convention that wrote the charter that still governs Arkansas today. In 1878, he was elected to the Supreme Court where he worked to protect the rights of women.

In the late 1860s and 1870s, William Henry Etter's sons, John Phillip Etter, William Henry Etter, Jr., and Robert Benjamin Etter, published the Telegraph. In 1872 and 1873, Joel Elias Borden was the editor and sometimes publisher. Borden was part of the law firm of Borden & Mitchell with Charles E. Mitchell.

Later editors included Daniel Webster Jones, who became Governor of Arkansas around the turn of the nineteenth century. In 1894, Sam H. Williams joined the paper. The following year Williams worked alongside William Spencer Eakin. A lawyer, William Eakin was the son of John Rogers Eakin. James William Ellis alternated with Eakin running the paper for a few years. In the 1890s, Mrs. C. E. Ratcliffe was the editor and Zeldah Matlack publisher. While working at the Telegraph, Ratcliffe was elected as Poet for the Arkansas Press Association in 1895. By the turn of the century, William Henry Etter III was running the paper alone.

In 1918, the Telegraph brought on Julian Gold as editor. When Gold purchased the paper, the newspaper office consisted mostly of a Washington hand press and 50 pounds of worn type. During his time at the Telegraph, he purchased a power press, folder, several jobbers, typesetting machine, new type, and mailing machine. Gold temporarily leased the paper to Curtis Cannon and Roy Harrison in 1920, but he quickly returned to manage and edit the paper. In 1921, Autrey Young briefly worked as editor.

The year after the county seat moved from Washington to Hope in 1939, the Telegraph combined with the Southwest Journal (1940-1940) published in Hope. The Journal was also published by William Etter IV, along with Leonard Ellis and Kelly Bryant, and Etter combined the two into the Journal-Telegraph. The following year, the paper split back to the Washington Telegraph and Hope Journal (1941-1951). The Washington Telegraph was the oldest weekly paper west of the Mississippi River, running for more than 100 years, until William Henry Etter IV closed the paper in 1946.

Provided by: Arkansas State Archives