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The Arkansaw traveler. : (Little Rock, Ark.) 1882-1???
Alternative Titles:
  • Arkansas traveler
Place of publication:
Little Rock, Ark.
Geographic coverage:
  • Little Rock, Pulaski, Arkansas  |  View more titles from this: City County, State
  • Chicago, Cook, Illinois  |  View more titles from this: City County, State
Read & Benham
Dates of publication:
  • Vol. 1, no. 1 (June 4, 1882)-
  • English
  • Arkansas--Little Rock.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01206922
  • Chicago (Ill.)--Newspapers.
  • Illinois--Chicago.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01204048
  • Little Rock (Ark.)--Newspapers.
  • Editor: Opie P. Read, June 4, 1882-<Dec. 26, 1891>
  • Issued in two vols. each year.
  • Latest issue consulted: Nov. 12, 1892.
  • Place of publication varies: Chicago, Ill. and Little Rock, Ark., <Dec. 12, 1882-July 24, 1886>, May 14, 1887-<May 28, 1892>, and: Chicago, Ill., <Oct. 8, 1892-Feb. 19, 1894>
sn 90050009
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The Arkansaw traveler. June 4, 1882 , Image 1


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The Arkansaw Traveler

Located in central Arkansas, Little Rock is the state capital as well as the county seat of Pulaski County. Early European settlers arrived in the Little Rock area by the 1820s. The city grew quickly and by the late 1800s, Little Rock had a telephone exchange, electricity, paved cobblestone streets, and sewer lines. The population in Pulaski County surged in the late 1800s and early 1900s, especially in Little Rock.

In 1882, Opie Percival Read and his brother-in-law Philo Dayton Benham started The Arkansaw Traveler in Little Rock. They published the paper every Saturday, with Read working as editor and Benham managing the business. Read chose to name the paper after the Arkansas Traveler folktale, with the paper masthead including an image of a traveler, sheet music, a squatter, and his hut. According to the folktale, which dates as far back as at least 1840, a lost traveler in rural Arkansas asks a squatter for directions. The squatter is unhelpful until the Traveler plays the second half of the tune the squatter had begun on his fiddle. Learning the second part of the song makes the squatter so happy that he offers his hospitality and finally gives the Traveler directions. Read published this story in the first issue of the Traveler.

Read, who had a droll sense of humor, created the Traveler as a humorous literary paper. The Traveler was so popular that it gained national fame for its humor, especially the character sketches, standing out from other general news and political papers. While paper sales increased, some people took offense at Read's humor, which focused on life in the South. Eventually the newspaper lost its popularity as the quality of the writing declined. Read moved to Chicago, and in 1887, The Arkansaw Traveler began publishing out of Chicago as well as Little Rock.

Read wrote several novels and in 1888, he started publishing chapters of his novels in weekly installments in the Traveler. Read's novels included Mrs. Annie Green, Len Gansett, and A Kentucky Colonel. All three of his novels were popular and in early 1892, Read left the Traveler to work on his other literary pursuits. In 1902, The Monticellonian (1870-1920) reported that Read was in New York working as a playwright.

In 1896, the Traveler changed to a monthly publication. The last editor recorded for The Arkansaw Traveler was Harry Stephen Keeler. Keeler was a Chicago native who wrote numerous mystery and science fiction novels. While he published The Arkansaw Traveler, it was listed as a fiction newspaper. By the late 1910s, the Traveler had ceased publication in either city.

Provided by: Arkansas State Archives