A History of Newspapers in Cairo, Alexander County, Illinois, 1841-1881

 

Darrel Dexter
darreldexter@hotmail.com  

 

Newspapers published between 1841 and 1870, for which extant copies could not be found are Cairo’s first newspaper, name unknown, started in 1841 by a man named McNeer.  Addison H. Sanders established Cairo’s second newspaper, the Cairo Delta in June 1848, when Cairo had a population of only 142.  He was the editor and Sanders & Prince were the proprietors.  The heading was “A Chronicler of the Times, The People, and the Country.”  A year’s subscription for the weekly newspaper was $2.  Beginning with the 1 Feb 1849, issue, Sanders was the editor and sole proprietor.  Although there were fewer than 200 people in the town when it started, the paper contained much of the news of importance from up and down the rivers, both the Mississippi and Ohio, which converge at Cairo.  The comings and goings of riverboats and their captains and crew made the paper of interest to them and soon the weekly paper had a circulation of 800 copies.  This paper reported the discovery of gold at Sutter’s Fort in California and published periodic accounts of one company from Alexander County who went there to pan for their fortunes.  Hardly a week went by that some unidentified stranger was not found washed ashore somewhere in Alexander County and a coroner’s inquest held.  The paper also reported the victims of the cholera epidemic that was raging up and down the rivers at the time.  Sanders published the Delta until October 1849, when he left Cairo out of frustration with the stranglehold the Cairo & City Canal Company had over the town, even refusing to sell any town lots.  A similar confrontation with Darius B. Holbrook, who headed the “Company,” had forced the editor of the town’s first newspaper to move elsewhere in 1841.  Sanders moved to Evansville, Ind., and became associated with the Evansville Journal.

 

            The Cairo Sun started publication in April 1851 and was allegedly begun by the Emporium City Company, which was organized for the purpose of breaking down Cairo and convincing investors to build at Mound City.  It was a weekly and was owned by Francis M. “Frank” Rawlings, the son of Gen. Moses M. Rawlings. The newspaper’s heading was “Devoted to Politics, Literature, Commerce, General Intelligence, &c.” It ceased publication in April 1852, after one year.

 

William Alexander Hacker and Leonard “Len” G. Faxon began the Cairo City Times in Cairo, in May 1854.  The newspaper’s heading read simply “Progress.”  Subscription rates were $2 a year.  In 1855, Faxon left to begin his own newspaper, The Cairo Weekly Delta, and was replaced at the Times by Edward “Ed” Willett.  The two papers merged in November 1855 and became Cairo Weekly Times & Delta, at which time Hacker retired as editor.  The newspaper’s heading was “No Section—But One Country.”  It continued publication until 1859.

 

The Cairo Weekly Delta was edited and owned by Leonard G. Faxon.  His banner read, “Independent and Fearless.”  This newspaper started on 4 Jul 1855, and published its last issue on 21 Nov 1855.  It merged with The Cairo City Times in November 1855.  Faxon and Willett published the Cairo Weekly Times & Delta and also edited and published the Tri-Weekly Times Delta, which was published three times a week for a few months in 1856.  Beginning in April 1859, Edward Willett became editor of the Cairo Semi-Weekly Times & Delta, which was published by John H. Burtch.  In December 1858, when the paper ceased publication, subscribers lost the amount paid for their subscriptions.  Len Faxon moved to Paducah, Kentucky, and edited the Paducah Herald and in 1869 was living at Crossland, Ky.  Ed Willett lived in Russellville, Ky., in 1869 and wrote dime novels for Beadle and American News Company.

 

The Cairo Egyptian was established by Ben Bond, a son of Governor Shadrach Bond; and a man named McGinnis in 1856.  The name was changed after a few months to the Cairo Gazette.  S. S. Brooks was the editor, but left after two years and went to Quincy, where he established the Quincy Herald.  The Cairo Gazette was sold in 1858 to John A. Hull and James Hull, who sold it in 1859 to Moses B. Harrell.  (Hull  was living on the Pacific Coast or in Mexico in 1869.)  The extant issues of the Cairo City Weekly Gazette are from 1861 and 1862.  At that time the publication office was located at No. 2 Springfield Block, Ohio Levee.  In the spring of 1864, the newspaper was sold to the Cairo News Company and became a Republican newspaper run by John H. Barton and called The Cairo Daily News.

 

Cairo Journal began on 19 Sep 1857, and ended on 6 May 1858.  It was one of the German language newspapers printed in the town.  It had between 200 and 300 subscribers, who lost their money, when the proprietors closed shop and left Cairo.

 

The Cairo Daily Democrat was established in Cairo in August 1863, having been moved from Springfield by Thomas Lewis.  The Cairo Democrat Company, established on 30 Aug 1863, owned the newspaper.  The officers were Thomas Lewis, president and treasurer; James M. Kinnear, secretary; and G. S. Sims, superintendent mechanical department.    Its first editor was H. C. Bradsby, assisted by C. C. Phillips and John W. McKee.  J. Birney Marshall became the second editor, followed by Joel G. Morgan, who had moved from Jonesboro, where he owned and edited the Jonesboro Gazette briefly in 1864.  John H. Oberly was senior editor in 1865 and Ed S. Trover was junior editor.  Subscriptions for the daily were $12 a year.  It also published a weekly newspaper called The Monday Democrat, which banner read, “‘Tell Them To Obey the Laws and The Constitution.’—Douglas’ Dying Words.”   The paper was published at the Democrat building on the corner of Commercial Avenue and Eighth Street.  The Democrat merged with the Cairo Times in September 1866, but kept the name The Cairo Democrat.  The new Cairo Democrat Company officers were President S. Staats Taylor, Vice President William P. Halliday, Treasurer A. B. Safford, Secretary John Bourne, Superintendent Harvey L. Goodall, and Editor in Chief John H. Oberly.  H. C. Bradsby was again editor in 1867.  Oberly purchased the newspaper in April 1867 and became owner and editor.  In October 1868 Oberly sold his interest in the newspaper to Thomas Lewis, although Oberly stayed as editor.  Oberly remained with the newspaper until 13 Nov 1868, when he resigned because of the new owner’s plans to make The Cairo Democrat a Radical Republican newspaper.  John P. Fagin, the local editor, resigned at the same time for the same reason.  The newspaper lasted but two issues after the resignations, then ceased publication.  All the “materials and fixtures” in the office of The Democrat were sold at public auction on Tuesday, 5 Jan 1869, to pay the chattel mortgage held by the City National Bank.  John H. Oberly purchased the establishment for $2,500, cash in hand.  The newspaper did not resume publication, but the “materials and fixtures” were likely moved to the office of Oberly’s new newspaper, the Cairo Evening Bulletin.

 

The War Eagle and Daily Evening Extra was originally published at Columbus, Ky., beginning in 1863 by Harvey L. Goodall, but in 1864 was moved to Cairo.  It was a weekly Republican newspaper and changed its named after April 21, 1865, to The Cairo Daily Times and became a daily and then a semi-daily.  They also published a weekly, which they ended in November 1865.  The daily became the Cairo Tri-Weekly Times in April 1866.   Goodall continued as editor and proprietor until Major William Caffrey became editor.  In April 1866, Major Caffrey left Cairo to publish a Radical Republican newspaper in Newark, Ohio, in 1868 was editor of a Radical newspaper called the South-West Tribune, published in Stockton, Mo., and in 1870 was publisher of the Evening Republican Telegram in Fort Scott, Kansas.  G. Walter Allen then became editor.  The newspaper ceased publication for a short time and then merged with the The Cairo Democrat in 1866.  The Cairo Times was revived in 1868 as a daily by H. L. Goodall as publisher and proprietor.  His brother, H. P. Goodall, was business manager.  It published its last issue on 26 Sep 1869, at which time Goodall transferred the press and office to his other newspaper, the Chicago Sun, published at the Union Stock Yards in Chicago.

 

Cairo Evening Bulletin was started as an evening newspaper in December 1868 by John H. Oberly as chief editor and Moses B. Harrell as associate editor.  Oberly started this newspaper after he left The Cairo Democrat in November.  The newspaper office was located at 225 Washington Avenue, Democrat Hall, while the editorial rooms were over Barclay’s Drug Store on Ohio Levee.  The newspaper became popular and Oberly’s stand against the Radical Republican takeover of the Cairo Democrat  helped win the election in March 1869 for mayor.  A couple weeks after the election, the newspaper office was destroyed by fire, but the newspaper resumed publication in only one week from its new office at No. 13 Tenth Street, Thornton's Building.  In 1878 Mr. Burnett began to run the newspaper and became the sole owner in January 1881.  Moses B. Harrell became editor.

 

The following newspapers were also published in Cairo, but have not been microfilmed, and no copies have been located --

Cairo Zeitung, a German language newspaper published by the Cairo Gazette beginning in 1859 ended after four months.  This paper is also referred to as Cairo Anzeiger.

The Egyptian Obelisk, a Republican newspaper started by William Hunter, which published only two issues in 1861 before closing its doors after three days in operation.

Cairo Daily Morning News, started in the spring of 1862 and published by a joint stock company headed by John W. Trover and edited by Dan Munn.  A later editor was John A. Hull (who went on to become night editor of the New York Herald).  Afterwards it was published periodically by James Birney Marshall and James O. “Jim” Durff, before it ended in 1865, being “swallowed up” by the Cairo DemocratDurff was from Metropolis and became business manager of the Cairo Democrat before moving to Memphis, Tenn., where he became the river editor of the AvalancheMarshall also left for Memphis after he left Cairo.

The Daily Dramatic News, published by H. L. Goodall for the Cairo Atheneum in late 1864 and early 1865

The Union, a Republican weekly published for a few months in 1865 by Harvey L. Goodall, J. Van De Bogart and later John Barton and edited by Mr. Hutchinson.

The Sunday Leader started in the summer of 1865 or 1866 by Ed S. Trover as a weekly and lasted three months, ending in October.

The City Item begun in 1865 by H. C. Bradsby and John Field and was gone by 1867.

The Volksbatt, a German language newspaper edited by John M. Schneider and published by the Cairo Democrat Company in 1865 ended after about nine months.

School Tablet started in 1867 was published until 1870.

The Olive Branch, published by the Cairo Democrat and edited by Mrs. Mary C. Hutchinson beginning in April 1866 had ceased publication by 1868.

Cairo Price Current newspaper published by the Cairo Evening Bulletin and edited by Louis Matthews in 1869 and was still being published in 1870.

Southern Illinois Teacher commenced in 1869 and ceased publication in 1870.

Egyptian Sun was a Republican newspaper owned by John H. Barton of the Carbondale New Era.  It began publication in March 1870 and was edited by the Rev. D. L. Davis.  Mr. Hull became assistant editor in September 1870.


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