The Carthage Press celebrates today the start of Volume 126 and the end of Volume 125. 


What does that mean?


It means The Press has been serving Carthage as a daily newspaper for 125 years. 


 


The Carthage Press celebrates today the start of Volume 126 and the end of Volume 125. 

What does that mean?

It means The Press has been serving Carthage as a daily newspaper for 125 years. 

In the case of The Carthage Press, it has provided the first draft of Carthage history that historians and citizens still look back on to provide context to Carthage’s growth.

We here at The Press still have a framed copy of one of the first issues of “The Evening Press.”

Dated March 24, 1884, we use that issue as the basis of when to change Volume numbers, that number at the top of the front page that tells you how many years a newspaper has been published.

That issue is small as newspapers go, the paper itself is not much larger than a magazine is today. 

Much of it is dedicated to something called the “Double Topsey Committee,” which included Topsey No. 1, Republicans; and Topsey No. 2, Democrats.

The story tries to describe what was apparently a committee that did not want to be described.

Talk about a snapshot of history, that issue also includes a paragraph that asks “Would those who want to raise a revenue to the city by licensing the whisky traffic want to carry that ‘one idea’ any farther and license some other disreputable business, prostitution, for instance. No doubt the revenues could be largely increased by doing so.”

 

Birth of a newspaper

The Press has its roots in a weekly paper even earlier than that tiny Evening Press edition of March 24, 1884.

In an issue dated March 25, 1922., The Press commemorated 50 years of publication with an article about Joshua A. Bodenhamer, “a man of wide experience,” the articles, headline said.

“Joshua A. Bodenhamer, who founded the Carthage (Mo.) Press in 1872 and edited it and published it until 1884, was born November 14, 1840 at Salem, N.C., the son of David G. Bodenhamer, a prominent Methodist preacher and evangelist, and his wife.

“At the age of 13, the subject of this sketch (Bodenhamer) was “bound out,” (the term used in those days for apprentices) to the publishers of Blum’s Almanac, of Salem, to learn the printing trade. Blum’s Almanac was an old publication even then (1853) and one of the best-known institutions in the entire state of North Carolina and it is still doing business in its old stand in the old city of Salem.”

 

Moving to Missouri

The 1922 article described how Bodenhamer migrated west and how at the outbreak of the Civil War he “cast his lot with that element of the state troops that espoused the lost cause and fought with Gen. Sterling Price’s army during all its campaigns, participating in several battles of major importance, including the battle of Wilson’s Creek.”

After the war, Bodenhamer settled in Fremont County Iowa where he published the Fremont County Union and “met, wooed and married Nancy Jane Flanery.”

The article said Bodenhamer migrated to Carthage in the latter part of 1871 and established The Carthage Press or the “People’s Press” in 1872.

“While started as an independent paper, it later on espoused the cause of the Greenback party and, in 1876, was an ardent supporter of Peter Cooper as the Greenback candidate for the presidency, being the only newspaper west of the Mississippi to lend its support to that party’s candidate.

“That The Press is must have been an element of influence is demonstrated by the fact that out of a total vote of 3,000 in the entire state of Missouri for Peter Cooper that year, 520 of them were cast in Jasper County, the home county of The Press.”

 

A new daily

In 1878, Bodenhamer sold half his interest in The Press to A.W. St. John when “Current paper bills were due and The Press was about to ‘turn up its toes to the daisies,’” according to a letter written by St. John in 1902.

In 1884, St. John took over the paper.

In his letter he described turning the paper into a daily.

“Suffice it to say that it gradually grew into the confidence of the people until, in response to a well-defined demand, a daily edition, The Evening Press, was established and new machinery and type and better quarters secured for the office,” St. John wrote to a friend, W.J. Sewall, Carthage.

“The demand for a daily came with the nomination of Maj. J.L. Moore for Mayor on the temperance ticket in the spring of 1884. John D. McGrillis was his opponent and The Press, though small in size, made a warm campaign, printing several cartoons engraved by G.E. St. John, who was then connected with the paper. Mr. McGrillis was defeated and the morning after the election sent The Press a present of an elegant pair of editorial shears.”

The March 25, 1922 50th anniversary issue also featured a letter from the first Press carrier, Elijah Backus.

“In a business way, it was my first love, for it furnished and paid me the first real money that I ever earned,” Backus wrote to Press. “I was a tow-headed youngster of 10 or 11 when I started in as a carrier. I’m inclined to think that I was the first carrier that The Press ever employed. ‘A.W’ was liberal with me too — he paid me the munificent salary of 25 cents a day; and afterwards, when I collected as well as delivered, raised me to $3 a week.”