.....Advertisement.....
.....Advertisement.....

From the Editor's Desk: 150 years old? You don’t look a day over 149 to me.

-A A +A
By Molly Haines

Depending on how closely you scan the pages of The News-Herald each week, you may have noticed a few slight changes to today’s front page.
For as long as any of us can remember, The News-Herald’s masthead has carried the message, “Serving Owen County Since 1868.” With that in mind, I began researching the newspaper’s history during the summer of 2017 in anticipation of our sesquicentennial.
The question that had gone unanswered since that time is when, exactly, did the first edition of the original newspaper, “The Owen News” publish.
After numerous inquiries to locals, Facebook pleas and two or three dozen trips up and down the steps of the Owen County Historical Society Museum, I was finally able to lay my hands on what is the last known edition of the original newspaper, “The Owen News,” Volume I, No. 5, published at New Liberty Oct. 26, 1869, by Maj. Joseph Marcus Clarke and Eugene E. Lee.
Still, I believed the 1868 date to be accurate, but the more I dug, the more I began seeing an initial publication date of Tuesday, Sept. 28, 1869.
The most astounding discovery lies on the pages of the October 1869 paper, where a “Letter from Owenton” finds a “St. Marc” looking back at the historical events of 1869, such as the inauguration of President Ulysses S. Grant on March 4, and the total solar eclipse of Aug. 7.
“But it was reserved for the 28th of Sept. to witness a spectacle more gorgeous more magnificent and we may say more wonderful than these,” St. Marc writes. “Grants inauguration was a forced conclusion: nobody laughed and nobody cried; nobody was surprised, nobody cared anything about it. And with the eclipse, intelligent being was astonished at the occurrence of a fact which every body said would certainly happen. But when the sun rose on the morning of Sept. 28th, bright and clowdless (sic) the very atmosphere was fraught with hidden meaning, it could and did unfold a tail the slightest recollection of which only serves the more forcibly to forever impress it on our memory. On this forever after memorable day the first number of the Owen News was given to the world, and we cannot forget that paper, at first from the press and damp, we opened its folds and cast our eyes upon it. There it was, a thing of life—a newspaper—breathing the atmosphere, printed within eight miles of our home, and in Owen county. It was reserved for this period of time, this particular decade of the nineteenth century to give it birth.”
St. Marc questioned the proprietors’ decision to publish at New Liberty but never the less congratulated the town on its newest business.
“We humbly opine that such a paper would have been best located at the county seat,” St. Marc continued. “But do not desire to raise the question having defined to the decision, that have conferred that honor upon New Liberty. We congratulate the citizens of this little town so full of lovely women upon their truly valuable addition, we view you not with envy or chagrin, good folly, we are glad to have this press among us let it be where it may...”
And just like that, my near two years of research for an original publication date came to a close, and dozens of decades later, we can finally set the record straight. I like to think that former News-Herald owner, publisher and editor Carroll Hunt Bourne -- who has become somewhat of a hero of mine throughout this research -- would be proud.
With that being said, the pages of this week’s News-Herald reflect our newfound discovery, as does our sesquicentennial logo. While our 150th anniversary will not officially take place until the Sept. 25, 2019 edition, we will still publish a special section commemorating the occasion this summer.
My sincere thanks to News-Herald columnists Bonnie Strassell and Georgia Green-Stamper; Owen County Historical Society President Christina Murphy; Society Treasurer Larry Dale Perry; local historian Margaret Murphy; Jim and Sandy Bush and former News-Herald Editor Lee Cochran for the information and pictures, for allowing me to spend countless hours inside the Owen County Historical Society Museum, for the moral support and the outright kindness you’ve shown to me throughout this project so far.
When I read The News-Herald as a kid, I never imagined that someday I would become its editor. The history of this newspaper is something that I’m incredibly proud to be a part of, and though it may have changed hands numerous times throughout the years and merged with competitors, the one thing that has remained the same is our commitment to covering the news in Owen County.

Molly Haines has served as editor of The News-Herald since 2014.