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The watchman and southron. [volume] : (Sumter, S.C.) 1881-1930
Place of publication:
Sumter, S.C.
Geographic coverage:
  • Sumter, Sumter, South Carolina  |  View more titles from this: City County, State
Watchman and Southron Pub. Co.
Dates of publication:
  • Vol. 1, no. 1 (Aug. 2, 1881) - v. 67, no. 41 (Jan. 1, 1930).
Semiweekly Feb. 20, 1909 - Jan. 1, 1930
  • English
  • South Carolina--Sumter County.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01211788
  • Sumter County (S.C.)--Newspapers.
  • Archived issues are available in digital format as part of the Library of Congress Chronicling America online collection.
sn 93067846
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The watchman and southron. [volume] August 2, 1881 , Image 1


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The Watchman and Southron, the Sumter Watchman and the Sumter Banner

The weekly Sumter Watchman and Southron (1881-1930) served the residents of Sumter County, located in the Midlands region of South Carolina, for half a century. Whereas the title of the Columbia-based Daily Phoenix  conjured images of a community reborn, the Watchman and Southron alluded to the politically divisive years leading up to the Civil War. The word “watchman” recalled the partisan spirit of newspapers like the Greenville Southern Patriot and the Anderson Southern Rights Advocate, published in 1851 and 1852, respectively. “Southron,” a Scottish dialect variant for “Southern,” was an expression of identity used by Confederates.

The Watchman and Southron began as two weekly newspapers, the Sumter Watchman and the True Southron. Allen A. Gilbert and Horatio Lincoln Darr started the Sumter Watchman in 1855, merging the Sumter Banner and Sumterville Black River Watchman. The Sumter Banner had held the distinction of being one of Sumter’s earliest and longest-running newspapers; several prominent citizens, including William Francis Baker Haynsworth, John Smythe Richardson, Jr., and James Sanders Guignard Richardson, had at times acted as editors and publishers. Gilbert and Darr also launched the Sumter Tri-weekly Watchman and the Sumter Semi-weekly Watchman. In April 1865, soldiers of the 25th Ohio Infantry Regiment briefly seized control of the Watchman and printed a single-issue newspaper called the Banner of Freedom  before destroying its offices.

In 1866, Darr and Gilbert ended their partnership. Soon Darr launched a competing newspaper, the Sumter News in tandem with his former apprentice, Noah Graham Osteen. In 1873, Darr and Osteen changed the paper’s name to the True Southron. Osteen and the Reverend Clinton Caper Brown bought out the Sumter Watchman which they merged with the True Southron to create the Watchman and Southron on August 2, 1881. The new owners borrowed a line from Henry VIII by William Shakespeare for the paper’s motto--“Be just and fear not: let all the ends thou aim’st at be thy country’s, Thy God’s, and truth’s.” Editor Julius Andrew Mood stayed on for only two years, but his editorials proved popular with readers throughout South Carolina. Reverend Brown contributed columns on morals and religion. The Watchman and Southron bore witness to major events such as: the crop failures of the 1880s; the introduction of mills, manufacturing, and even a cocoonery in the local economy; and the creation of Lee County from Sumter County in 1902. The paper steered a reliably conservative, if unregimented, course, challenging Democrat Governor “Pitchfork” Ben Tillman’s administration in the 1890s as doggedly as its predecessor, the True Southron, had criticized Reconstruction-era Republican reformers in the 1870s.

In 1909, the Watchman and Southron became a semiweekly paper. It was later absorbed by the Sumter Daily Item founded by Noah Osteen’s son, Hubert Graham. The last issue of the Watchman and Southron appeared on January 1, 1930.

Provided by: University of South Carolina; Columbia, SC