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Stories from the past

All articles copyrighted by the Guymon Daily Herald. Used by permission.


Guymon Daily Herald is Old Time Panhandle Pioneer

Herald Suffers Growing Pains with Panhandle

This article appeared in the Guymon Daily Herald, Sunday, April 26, 1953.

On page one of this Pioneer Day edition of the Guymon edition of the Guymon Daily Herald is the notation "Volume 62", special significance in that it means the Herald is now in its 62nd year of publication, a true pioneer that has worked, struggled and grown with the great panhandle Empire.

Today, the Herald is the only daily newspaper in the Panhandle, serving more than 8,000 readers daily in the booming, tri-state area. But it is the romance of the past that shows more clearly how the Herald became an intergral part of Panhandle progress.

The pioneer settlement at Hardesty provided the Herald's birthplace in 1890, shortly after the passage of the Organic Act of May 2, 1890, which admitted No Man's Land as a part of Oklahoma Territory.

When the late R.B. Quinn rolled off first issue on the antiquated Washington hand press, the Herald was known as The Hardesty Herald.

That hand press, now on display in the No Man's Land Museum, Panhandle A and M College, Goodwell, had a romantic history of its own before it ever found its ancient way into this fresh, new land.


First in the West

The press was the first used west of the Mississippi river, put to use by a Baptist missionary before the Civil War. Later, a band of Confederate soldiers wrecked the plant and threw the press in the Kaw River. It was recovered after the war.

Quinn bought the press from a German who had brought it to Liberal, Kans., and moved it to Hardesty by wagon.

Even then, the press had a sort of jinx about it. The late Boss Neff, Hooker pioneer and famous Panhandle ranchman, often recalled how he had to help Mr. Quinn salvage press and wagon from the Beaver River. Quinn's entourage had stalled in the sand and Neff had to tie on his saddle pony to give the necessary lift to the journey.

Neff frequently visited newspaper plant and often ran hand roll over the type, inking the forms, while Quinn operated the vintage piece of equipment.


To Guymon in 190l

In 1901, with the coming of the railroad to Guymon. Quinn moved his newspaper plant here and changed the name to "The Guymon Herald".

Early day issues of the Herald carried an abundance of advertisements on the front page and quoted liberally from such journalistic stalwarts as the New York Press and the New York Times. No big headlines were used and the four pages were about 40 percent advertising.

One early story reported that The Beaver Herald and the Advocate had let up on the newspaper war by "mutual agreement". Although the present Beaver Herald Democrat is credited with being one of the oldest weeklies in the state, founded in 1886, its forerunners then were still comparatively young. No one recalls what the big "war" was about.

The Herald, even in its infancy, had the interests of its readers at heart as shown by this reprinting from July 21, 1904, issue:

"A good many new settlers have broomcorn planted, but confess ignorance as to the best methods of caring for and handling the matured crop. The Herald confesses ignorance and would like for some man of experience to offer suggestions through the columns of this paper, not some fellow making a guess founded on theories, but something written by some fellow who has had experience with broomcorn in this country and knows what he is talking about."


Quinn Makes History

This is typical of the Herald style, yet to the pioneer settlers, the paper was their most enjoyable reading material. Through it they kept informed of other settlers' doings in the thinly populated, sparsely settled Panhandle.

Before selling out to Warren Zimmerman for $2,500, March 1, 1907, Dick Quinn made his niche in history. He had a territory-wide reputation and sometimes became quite unorthodox in his publishing. The story has it that in one issue he printed only the front page and on it the only legend was "Gone fishing". The redoubtable Quinn became United States marshal for western Oklahoma in 1926, serving the court of the late federal judge, John H. Cotteral.

When Zimmerman took over, the plant included a Diamond cylinder press and considerable type, all set by hand. Zimmerman said, "I soon saw business justified a Babcock cylinder press and a Linotype, so purchased and installed both within three years. When I got that equipment installed, I had the best equipped plant between Hutchinson, Kansas and El Paso, Texas. Many thought I was a plunger and the town couldn't afford it, but I paid for everything out of the profits, built a good office building and a nice bungalow in Guymon before I left."


Judge, Editor Disagree

Six people were on the Herald staff when Oklahoma becama a state in 1907. They were Fred Daily, Katie Lu Martin, Oran Kelly, Zella Eslack and Mr. and Mrs. Zimmerman.

Zimmerman's experiences were not all profit and progress. "I had four or five hard fights, succcessfully 'defended' a lawsuit for libel and had the satisfaction of beating up a county judge," Zimmerman recalled. "I handed him the same kind of medicine he gave me when he slipped up behind me one afternoon in the old courthouse and slugged me with some hard instrument. The only difference was I did mine with my bare hands just to show him how a real he-man handled such classes of cattle as his denomination belonged to. He resigned within thirty days, left for South America and I never heard of him thereafter."

In March, 1907, the Herald had a circulation of 500 but not all the subscribers were on amicable terms. In fact, one had quite a peeve on with a community correspondent, as this letter to the editor would indicate.


Letter To Editor

"In the Eula items of last week's issue of your paper, I noticed the author treated me with injustice by stating that there was an ice cream supper at the church and one at my house, three-fourths of a mile away in connection with a dance. He further stated the one at the church was given first, which is a lie. He also stated the dance at my house lasted all night, which is a lie. No, two, for it only lasted thirty minutes later than the super at the churh.

"It seems that the writer of the Eula items is very partial in his writings. Why did he not tell through the columns of your paper of his shooting his neighbor's hog while his neighbor was away from home? Why did he not tell of his father coming home drunk from town the same night there was a dance at the home of J.T. Dixon, which had considerable write up?

"Now which is the most unlawful - a dance, to shoot a neighbor's hog or get drunk? I will refrain from both of the latter, but will dance. I will further state that I am not a Christian, neither do I pretend to be, but I am a law-abiding citizen in every respect and look to the upbuilding of the country and have always had the respect of all respectable people. I will say in conclusion that if the correspondent has anything else to say, let him crack his whip, for I always save the best for the last."


Miller Becomes Owner

Apparently, the correspondent had no more to say. There is no further record of what the irate reader was saving as his Sunday punch.

Circulation grew during Zimmerman's ownership and in 1916, Herald had 1,200 subscribers. The late J.Q. Denny purchased the Gumon Herald for $4,500.

The dean of Panhandle newsmen, Mr. Miller still lives at Guymon. He began his newpapering career at the age of nine by delivering papers. At 11 he was a printer's devil and at 13 had become a printer and local writer. At 17, he owned and edited a morning daily. With the exception of two years when he was postmaster, Miller edited the Herald from 1919 to 1946.

By 1920, advertisements on the front page were few and headlines in bold face type gave the paper a neater look. An abundance of local items boosted circulation and when Miller addded an agricultural supplement in 1922, he changed the nameplate to "The Panhandle Herald">


Reverts To Semi-Weekly

In the dustbowl days, the Herald was primarily concerned with reporting the large number of citizens leaving each day for California. Subscription price was $2.50 in 1936 and the paper had a daily average circulation of 1,798.

The Herald had absorbed the Goodwell News under Denny's ownership and in 1927 absorbed the Godwell Independent. About the same time, Miller bought out Dick Quinn, who had come back and started the Guymon Tribune, which he operated from 1921 to 1926 when he took the marshal's job.

The Herald became a daily early in the 30's and for several years was one of two dailies here, the other being the Guymon Daily News, an off-spring of the Texas County News. The Herald remained daily until May, 1941, when it was merged with the news and renamed the Panhandle News-Herald and put on a semi-weekly basis.

Miller sold the Herald in 1941 and bought a farm north of Guymon. The Herald was consolidated with what is now its parent organization, the Texas County Publishing company, publishers of the Texas County News since 1931. Oilman Lew Wentz and Raymond H. Fields founded the company in 1931 and Mr. and Mrs. Fields, who still publish the Herald, were two of the three charter directors.

Miller continued to manage the Panhandle News Herald until 1946 when he retired and John Dexter became manager. The newspaper once again became a daily publication on November 16, 1948, when new teletype equipment was purchased and the paper became a subscriber to the INS world newservice, later succeeded by United Press.


Fields Buys Stock

Bob Johnson managed the paper from 1949 until August 1, 1950, when Mr. and Mrs. fields purchased the entire stock off the Texas County Publishing company and he became publisher and editor. About two weeks after becoming sole owner, Fields discarded the cumbersome nameplate of the Panhandle Daily News-Herald and the paper once again became simply, The Guymon Daily Herald.

The publishing company purchased the weekly Guymon Observer from Amos DeWolfe in September, 1952, and that newspaper is now printed in the Herald plant.

The Herald staff is composed of Fields, editor and publisher; Amon E. McKay, assistant to publisher: William A sercomb, advertising manager; Dave Taylor, Herald reporter and Observer editor: Mrs. Elizabeth Wilson, society editor; J. Walden Hancock, mechanical superintendent; Emmit Hughey, press stereotype foreman; Pat Campbell, circulation manager; Ross Ward, advertising department, Dan White and Mrs. John Moreland, teletype operator and ad compositor; Mrs. John Moreland, tele-typesetter.

The directorate of the publishing company is Fields, president: Mildred B. Fields, secretary-treasurer; McKay, vice president, and Sercomb, Taylor and Hancock, members.


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