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Mexico weekly ledger. : (Mexico, Mo.) 1855-1956
Place of publication:
Mexico, Mo.
Geographic coverage:
  • Mexico, Audrain, Missouri  |  View more titles from this: City County, State
R.M. White
Dates of publication:
  • -v. 98, no. 40 (Oct. 11, 1956).
  • Began in 1855?
  • English
  • Mexico (Mo.)--Newspapers.
  • Missouri--Mexico.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01220809
  • Archived issues are available in digital format from the Library of Congress Chronicling America online collection.
  • Description based on: Vol. 18, no. 22 (Sept. 21, 1876).
sn 89067274
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Mexico weekly ledger. September 21, 1876 , Image 1


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Mexico Weekly Ledger, North Missouri Messenger, Missouri Messenger and Mexico Evening Ledger

John B. Williams established the first newspaper in Audrain County, Missouri, in 1855, calling it the Weekly Ledger and publishing out of the town of Mexico. A newspaperman from nearby Fulton, Williams had ties to many prominent journalists in central Missouri and enjoyed considerable success in the newspaper industry. After just two years in Mexico, Williams decided to return to Fulton and sell the Weekly Ledger to Dr. William D. H. Hunter. Hunter’s editorship of the newspaper was slightly longer than Williams’, but came to an abrupt end in 1862, when a fire destroyed the Ledger’s printing offices. The Civil War also contributed to a lapse in publication. For the next three years, it looked as though the Ledger was to be a short entry in the history of Audrain County’s press. In October 1865, the Weekly Ledger reappeared under the name North Missouri Messenger, with William W. Davenport as editor and proprietor. Davenport quickly sold the paper to Milton F. Simmons and went on to publish the St. Charles Cosmos from 1869 until 1872. Simmons changed the name of the paper to the Missouri Messenger and published it under that title until September 1874, when he sold the Messenger to J. Linn Ladd. Under Ladd, the paper’s politics changed from Republican to Democratic and the Missouri Messenger was rechristened the Mexico Weekly Ledger, to connect it to John B. Williams’ earlier newspaper of that name. Having trouble raising subscription levels, Ladd sold the Mexico Ledger to Robert Morgan White. In his last editorial, Ladd admonished Mexico for its lack of support and pleaded with the town’s residents to help make new management succeed. Either his entreaty worked, or the new owner simply refused to consider failure as an option, for Robert Morgan White and his son, Leander Mitchell White, would oversee the Mexico Ledger for the next 60 years.

White was not just the owner and editor of the Mexico Ledger; he took an active interest in all aspects of the business, acting as reporter, solicitor, bookkeeper, and business manager of both the weekly and, beginning in 1886, the daily edition (known as Mexico Evening Ledger). The Whites turned the Mexico Ledger into one of the most successful newspapers in central and northern Missouri. Known for its extensive local reporting, the eight-page Thursday paper “cover[ed] the news as the dew does Dixie.” Famous for his energy and intensity, Robert White became one of the best-known editors of country newspapers in Missouri. White had purchased the Ledger immediately after graduating from college in 1876 and he managed it until his death in 1934. White also served as President of the Missouri Press Association, Secretary for the National Editorial Association, and Vice-President of the Western Federation of Editors. While he never sought public office, White was active in many statewide civic and educational societies, including a stint as President of The State Historical Society of Missouri from 1914 to 1916. All the while, White continued to publish the weekly and daily editions of his newspaper. His son, Leander, was also instrumental to the success of the Mexico Ledger. Following in the footsteps of his father, Leander White served on statewide boards and committees and succeeded in the ownership and editorship of the Mexico Ledger after his father’s death. Leander White spent his entire career running the Ledger, which is still published as a daily edition today.

Provided by: State Historical Society of Missouri; Columbia, MO