WARREN COUNTY MISSISSIPPI
THE VICKSBURG PRESS
Notwithstanding the first printing press in the State was erected within the borders of the county of Warren, it was a full quarter of a century after before a newspaper was started. The first paper ever published in Vicksburg made its appearance on Wednesday, the 9th day of March, 1825. It was called “The Republican,” and published by Win. H. Benton. It was printed on a quarter medium sheet, and was a very creditable specimen of typography for the time. The latest dates in that issue were fifteen days old from New-Orleans; a striking contrast with the present advantages of the Vicksburg dailies, when the magnetic telegraph transmits the news with lightning rapidity, and the mails, about the tardiness of which we so much complain, come through now in fewer hour’s than it then took days.
”The Vicksburg Register,” now “The Vicksburg Whig,” was started in May, 1830. It was owned by John M. Henderson & Co. On the 5th of July, 1830, Mr. M. Shannon purchased an interest in the concern, and has ever since that time been connected with its fortunes, since 1842 as sole proprietor. Hon. Win. Mills, at present residing in Marshall county, was its first editor. In 1831, Mr. Mills purchased the interest of Mr. Henderson in the concern. Mr. H. was at that time clerk of the circuit court of Warren County. He is still living in Marshall, Texas. In 1834, Mr. Mills sold his interest to Cyrus Griffin, Esq. Mr. G. edited the paper until the 1st of January, 1837, when he sold out to F. A. Tyler. Mr. Griffin retired to his plantation on the Sunflower, and died in the summer of 1837. Mr. Tyler edited the paper for two years, when he sold out to Win. H. McCardle. Mr. Tyler removed to Yalobusha County, and practiced law for a few years, where he entered the ministry of the Presbyterian church. He is now editing a paper devoted to the interests of his denomination, at Memphis, Tenn. On the accession of Mr. McCardle to the paper, its name was changed to “The Vicksburg Whig.” In July, 1842, McCardle sold ,out to Mr. Shannon, who thenceforward became the sole proprietor. R. E. Hammett, Esq., at that time, became the editor; he continued in that capacity till January, 1845, when he was succeeded by the Hon. Alex. H. Arthur, late senator from Warren County. Mr. Hammett was a brother to Dr. Win. Hammett, of Washington County, formerly a member of Congress from this district. He was predisposed to a pulmonary disease, from which he suffered for a long time, and died a few years ago at his brother’s residence. (page 503)
Mr. Arthur edited “The Whig” until the close of the year 1848, when he was succeeded by J. E. Carnes. Mr. Carnes is now a minister of the M. E. Church South, and is the editor of “The Texas Christian Advocate,” at Galveston. Mr. Carnes was succeeded by the late Rufus K. Arthur, who filled the editorial chair till his death, in the summer of 1855. Mr. R. K. Arthur was succeeded by a former editor, Major W. H. McCardle, who occupied the post till August, 1857. After a brief intermission, during which time the place was filled temporarily by the Hon. Walter Brooke, formerly U. S. Senator, he was succeeded by the present editor.
A paper called “The Mississippi Advocate,” published by James R. Marsh, was started in Vicksburg, in the fall of 1831, but was purchased shortly afterward by the proprietors of “The Whig.”
“The Vicksburg Sentinel” was at one time one of the most influential papers in the State. It was merged into “The Sun” a few years ago. It has numbered among its editors some of the finest minds in the State; but a most remarkable fatality has followed most of them, which has rendered its history melancholy but interesting. The paper was founded in 1837, by Dr. James Hagan and Dr. Willis E. Green, a brother of the celebrated editor and politician, Gen. Duff Green. It was started as a State Rights paper, of the Calhoun school- in other words, it espoused the cause of the Nullifiers. It soon became a regular Democratic paper, and was famous for the violence with which it supported the Democratic organization, and the bitterness with which it assailed its adversaries. Dr. Green was not long connected with it, and on his retirement Dr. Hagan became the sole editor. Dr. Hagan was engaged in several street fights, but he fought but one duel, with an editor of “The Vicksburg Whig,” Gen. Win. H. McCardle, now a citizen of Vicksburg, in which the latter was wounded at the second fire. He was killed in 1842, in a street rencontre , by Daniel W. Adams, of Jackson, then a member of the same political party. The difficulty was occasioned by an article in Hagan’s paper, reflecting on the father of Mr. Adams.
During the editorship of Dr. Hagan he was assisted at one time by Isaac C. Patridge, the father of the present editor of “ The Vicksburg Whig,” who died in Natchez, of yellow fever, in 1839. He was afterward assisted by Dr. J. S. Fall, who had several fights, in one of which with T. E. Robbins, Esq., of his own party, he was wounded. Dr. Fall is now living in this section of the State. Dr. Hagan was succeeded, as editor, by D. J. Brennan, his executor. Mr. Brennan edited the paper but a short time, when he was succeeded by James Ryan, an Irishman of talent. He was killed in a duel by R. E. Hammet, then editor of “The Whig.” Ryan was succeeded by Walter Hickey, of Natchez. He had several difficulties, and was wounded repeatedly. In a rencontre with Dr. Maclin, of this city, the latter was killed. After retiring from the paper, Mr. Hickey was himself killed in Texas. A man by the name of John (page 505) Lavins, who had been the publisher during Hickey’s editorship, succeeded Hickey as editor. During his connection with “The Sentinel” he was imprisoned by Judge Coulter, of the circuit court, inconsequence of the course of his paper. After leaving Vicksburg he went to Hernando, in De Soto county, and established a paper there. “The Sentinel” then passed into the hands of Messrs. Jenkins & Jones, being edited by the former gentleman. He was killed in a street fight by Henry A. Crabbe, at that time a young lawyer of Vicksburg. Crabbe, a few years ago, was murdered in Sonora, together with a party of other Americans. Mr. F C. Jones succeeded Jenkins, but he did not long remain connected with the paper. Jones drowned himself not long since, between Vicksburg and New-Orleans. Jones was succeeded by Dr. McConnell, who conducted the paper during the celebrated Union campaign of 1851. On his retirement it passed into the hands of Demosthenes Walker, Esq., then a member of the Vicksburg bar, now deceased. McConnell is now a practicing physician in Hinds county. Mr. Walker sold to Lester & Bonsall. Mr. Lester soon sold out to John M. Jewell, and the firm became Bonsall & Jewell. In a short time Jewell purchased Bonsall’s interest. After conducting the paper for more than a year, Jewell disposed of it to Edward Pickett. Mr. Pickett, in turn, sold out to Win. W. W. Wood, now of “The Natchez Free Trader,” and removed to Memphis, where he now resides. Gen. Wood sold out to Messrs. Royal & Dickey, who soon disposed of the concern to Messrs. Roy & McCullum, of” The Vicksburg Sun.” Mr. Royal is now connected with a paper in Galveston, Texas.
Several campaign papers were started at different times, which, after the accomplishment of the objects of their foundation, soon disappeared from the field of journalism. The first of these was “ The Constitutionalist,” published as a Native American paper by J. R. Creecy. It was published in 1843 or’44. (The inability of the writer to find a file of the paper, renders it possible that there may be a mistake in the date.)’ The Constitutionalist” was followed by “The Southern Intelligencer,” which was started by W. H. Hurst. It did not last long, and was finally merged into “The Sentinel.” “The True Issue” was started during the Union campaign of 1851, by Messrs. Horace H. Miller and Charles L Buck, both now members of the bar of Vicksburg. While editing “The True Issue,” Mr. Miller, who had previously served in the Mexican war as captain of one of the companies of the first regiment, was appointed by President Fillmore as charge d’afaires to Bolivia. After the discontinuance of the paper, Mr. Buck was elected to the legislature, and has since served several sessions in both branches. “The American Times” was started in 1855, as the organ of the American party, then just organized in this State. Its editor was John S. Byrne. “The True Southron,” an “independent Southern Rights” journal, started by Gen. Win. H. McCardle, purchased the material of (page 506) “The Times.”
True Southron,” after having been carried on about two years, was finally
merged into “The Sun.” “The Southern Sun” was removed to Vicksburg from Yazoo
City. Its editors were W. D. Roy and James L. McCullum.. These gentlemen purchased
“The Sentinel” office, and merged the latter into “The Sun,” It is now the
Democratic organ of Vicksburg. Col. Roy was killed in a rencontre with Daniel
J. Sheppard, formerly a clerk in his office, the particulars of which are
still fresh in the minds of the public. J. L. McCullum is now the sole
Evening Citizen” is the first afternoon daily ever published in Vicksburg.
Its founder is James M. Swords. Its first editor was John S. Byrne, formerly
of” The Times.” Mr. Byrne filled for several years the office of mayor of the
city of Vicksburg. He was also a popular orator of some celebrity. He died in
April last. He was succeeded by Edmund J. McGarr, Esq., the present editor.
“The Mississippian,” the present central organ of the Democratic party, was first started in Vicksburg. It was founded in 1831, by Messrs. Foote & Catlett. Its editor was the Hon. Henry S. Foote, then a rising young member of the Vicksburg bar. It was first printed in the office of “The Vicksburg Whig” (then “The Register”). After being published for some months in the city of Vicksburg, it was removed to Clinton, then the capital of the State. Soon after it was purchased from Gov. Foote by Col. Ge6rge R. Fall, who removed it to Jackson. Col. Fall published it for a number of years. It then passed into the hands of Messrs. Volney E. & B. D. Howard. The former of these gentlemen has since been a member of Congress from Texas, and is now a leading lawyer and politician in California. Mr. Lester, C. M. Price, and Col. M. D. Haynes (now State treasurer), have at different times been connected with its editorial department. It is now, and has been for ten years, edited by Major E. Barksdale, who stands, deservedly, in the front rank of Southern politicians. (page 507)
The oldest living publisher in the State is Marmaduke Shannon, of “The Vicksburg Whig” His connection with the press runs back thirty years, and all that time with the same paper. He is a man of indomitable energy and will, and to those causes more than to any other is due the success of his journal. The relations existing between him and the writer precludes more being said. He is a native of Ohio, and fifty-four years of age. (page 509)
“The Press of Mississippi” by I. M Patridge, Debow’s Review, Volume 29, Issue 4, Oct. 1860, pp.500-509. Making of America Journal Articles, U of Michigan.
Found and contributed by Sue B. Moore