Murray County Newspapers
by J. Roy McGinty, Jr.
There were few newspapers in North Georgia when the present county boundaries were established. Legal and business advertisements were printed in Dalton newspapers like The North Georgia Citizen, The Cherokee Georgian, and The Dalton Argus during the 1850's, 60's, and 70's.
It is impossible to compile a complete and accurate history of Murray County's newspapers. The volume numbers on the few extant copies of each publication tell us the approximate date of the first issue. But Spring Place citizens of the early newspaper era have passed along the story that some of the papers were not printed every week. A quote: "The paper was printed the weeks the printer was sober enough to put the type together." This may account fo the inconsistencies in the numbering of the issues.
Court records of legal advertising in certain named papers tell us the paper was being published at that time, but too often the order says "county paper" and does not give the name. We can pick up the names of some of the editors and publishers, but there is no certainty we have them all.
We proceed to put together what we have, knowing that old papers and records may be found in the future that may add to what we now know and may even make some changes in the record.
H.C. Holcomb, publisher of the Methodist Advocate (Northern), Atlanta, had a son, Asa Holcomb, who wanted his own weekly newspaper. The senior Holcomb gave the son a printing outfit consisting of type and a 12x18 platen press and sent him to Spring Place where on Wednesday, October 11, 1878, the first edition of the Murray County Gazette, Murray County's first newspaper, was published.
After about 6 months, Asa decided he didn't like the newspaper business and returned to Atlanta. The senior Holcomb then persuaded a printer, M.F. Boisclair, to come to Spring Place and take over the paper. H.C. Holcomb held the title of publisher of the Gazette which was "published every Wednesday at Spring Place."
Boisclair told of the experience 56 years later in a letter to the editor of the Dalton Citizen: "His father (H.C. Holcomb) then offered me the job as editor, printer, devil and everything else that goes with a paper in a town of less than 300 people. I stuck to the job for nearly a year, but I got too hungry to stay any longer. All the money I ever got was for legal advertising, and there was not much of that." A year's subscription cost 50 cents. So, after about a year and a half the Murray County Gazette suspended publication. Its successor was the Spring Place Times also known as the North Georgia Times.
The volume number on an existing copy of the Times indicates that it was first published on Thursday, February 3, 1881 although another source said that the paper began publication in 1880. An item in Dalton's North Georgia Citizen of 1882 said that "Colonel T. Starr of the Spring Place Times constantly talked about how beautiful and good Murray County was ..." A year later (August 2) the Citizen included an announcement that "George R. Street, a recent graduate of the University of Athens, has purchased a half interest in the Spring Place Times. New life will be infused into its columns as George is a graceful and versatile writer." This paper was first mentioned in court records in March, 1885. One source says that Times or News stopped printing in 1887. Possibly, at that time, the paper became the North Georgia Times with C.N. King and S.B. Carter as publishers. The last mention of the Times was in 1891 when the February Grand Jury recommended that its presentments be published in it.
On November 30, 1891, Superior Court Judge Thomas W. Milner signed an order directing that service be perfected upon a defendant by publication in the Spring Place Jimplecute. An extant copy of this paper lists S.B. Carter and J.C. Heartsill as publishers and the volume number indicates it was first published in 1881. This starting date was the same as that for the North Georgia Times. These facts indicate that sometime between February and November, 1891, S.B. Carter terminated his connection with C.N. King, took J.C. Heartsill for a partner, suspended publication of the North Georgia Times, and started the Spring Place Jimplecute.
By 1898 Carter had left the paper, J.C. Heartsill was listed as managing editor and C.L. Henry as business manager. In 1900 the paper listed only C.L. Henry as editor and publisher.
Longtime Dalton newspaper columnist Walter S. Bogle wrote the following about the famed Jimplecute: "Clarence Heartsill was editor of the 'Jimplecute' for some time. At that time Spring Place was the county seat of Murray County and the 'Jimplecute' was often quoted by some of the city newspapers on account of the spicy, original writing of the editor.
"The name of the paper is said to have been coined from the initial letters of two phrases: 'Join Industry, Manufacturing, Planting, Labor, Energy, Capital in Unity,' 'Together Everlastingly.' "
The origin of the name "Jimplecute" has long been the subject of conjecture. Mr. Heartsill's daughter, Edith Bullard of Dunwoody, said that the name meant "clean and neat." However, Mr. Heartsell may have taken the name from the Jefferson (Texas) Jimplecute which was founded in 1848. Mrs. Bullard knew that her father visited Texas near the time he operated his Spring Place paper. Explanations for the origin of the Texas Jimplecute range from the acrostic for the motto mentioned above, to a random coinage to a Scottish dialect word and even to the name of a mythical creature! The Spring Place Jimplecute last appeared in court records in August, 1903 (while the Jefferson counterpart is still published).
The Jimplecute had two competitors. Murray News was first published August 21, 1896, but only lasted into 1897 and appears to have been taken over by the Jimplecute. The Spring Place Journal listed C.H. Shriner as editor and publisher and was first published December 20, 1901. It seems to have been published for about a year.
When the Jimplecute suspended publication about 1903, it was succeeded by The Murray News. This differs from the previous Murray News in that the word "The" has been added to the title and the volume number indicates the paper started in 1878, this being the starting date of Murray County's first newspaper. It would seem the editors of The News were making claim to being the successors to all the papers published in the county. The News was sold to and consolidated with The Chatsworth Times on October 30,1913.
The editors of The News changed often and a complete record is not available. It is known that Hull Kerr resigned as editor January 7, 1910, and was succeeded by E.E. Edmondson. T.E. Millmore resigned July 10, 1913, and was succeeded by P.A. Gates.
Some of these papers were printed in the Spring Place courthouse. The August, 1902, grand jury recommended the printing plant be moved out of the courthouse, but this seemed to have little effect because The Murray News in January, 1910, said the printing plant was still in the courthouse and that the county commissioners had voted to allow it to continue there.
On Saturday, January 5, 1907, the citizens of the town of Chatsworth elected its first full-term mayor (Gordon B. Gann later of Marietta) and council. On the same day the first edition of the Chatsworth Progress was printed. Thirty years later Jennie Lee Cooley, correspondent for another Chatsworth paper, interviewed George E. Sherman the founding editor of the Progress. Her account follows:
Mr. and Mrs. George E. Sherman, of Chicago, 111., two of Chatsworth's most illustrious citizens, have returned again to our "gate city of the mountains," and to their old residence at the DeSoto Hotel.
Thirty years ago Mr. Sherman came here, "on the back-end of a freight rain, from Cartersville," when Chatsworth was a robust infant, not long christened. The L. & N. railway ran several freights daily, but made no passenger car stops here, so the 'caboose ride" was a necessity rather than a novelty. Eight years later Mr. Sherman brought Mrs. Sherman from Chicago on her first visit to Chatsworth, on their honeymoon. . . .
Mr. Sherman was born in New York City, but was reared in Yapsilanti, Michigan. Shortly after he came to Chatsworth he started the "Chatsworth Progress," a weekly pioneer ancestor of "The Chatsworth Times." This was the first newspaper published here. It was printed in Atlanta and contained a few local news stories, some editorials, personal items, and a generous portion of news "filler." The busy editorial office was located at the DeSoto Hotel . . .
Besides his editorial duties Mr. Sherman was a director in the Bank of Chatsworth, manager of the Chatswroth Land Company, and secretary-treasurer of the Chats-worth Press Brick Company. But he still found time to write a forceful editorial which resulted in "taking a 't' out of Chattsworth," as it was originally spelled.
Mr. Sherman sold the newspaper to Will S. Cox about 1909. He then became a car dealer in Chicago, but visited Chatsworth on several occasions.
Lewis and R. Porter Hufstetler, doing business as Hufstetler Brothers, bought a printing plant from a defunct Calhoun, Ga., newspaper, moved the plant to Chatsworth, and on June 5, 1913, published the first edition of The Chatsworth Times. When I.E. Millmore left the Murray News in July of that year he became one of the editors of the Times, but only stayed until November 27. On October 30 of that year, the Hufstetlers bought The Murray News and consolidated it with The Times.
The Hufstetlers sold The Times to S.C. Edmondson on May 1,1915, and Ed Johnson became the manager. The Chatsworth business people were not pleased with this sale as the Edmondsons had sided with Spring Place in the county seat contest, so, acting through their newly formed chamber of commerce, they leased the paper for one year.
In March, 1929, McGinty bought the Calhoun (Ga.) newspaper and his son, J. Roy McGinty, Jr., became editor and publisher of The Chatsworth Times, and later became the owner.
In 1943 The Times received state-wide recognition when it was awarded the Georgia Press Association's Bankston trophy for the best local news coverage by any weekly newspaper in the state. (The elder McGinty later owned The Calhoun Times and continued to write for that paper until shortly before his death in 1979 at the age of 92.)
McGinty, Jr. sold The Times to Smythe Newsome, of Washington, Ga., March 1, 1957. Newsome sold the paper to John T. Luffman on August 2, 1965. Luffman sold to John Fleetwood, who also owned the Cartersville, Ga., newspaper, in August, 1970. Fleetwood sold both The Times and his Cartersville paper to Walls Newspapers, Inc., operators of a newspaper chain, in 1972. Walls Newspapers named Albert Edwards as editor and publisher of The Times in 1977, succeeding Danny Harbin. Blanche Robinson served as society editor from 1960 until her retirement in 1976. Paulette Harbin then filled in until Ruth Cox eventually became the permanent society writer.
Lyman Hall, of Calhoun, came to Chatsworth and started The Murray Herald on June 12, 1935. After a few years he left and V.C. Pickering, who was financing the paper, had to take over. Pickering named T.W. Brooks as manager for a short time while he was looking for a buyer. P.A. Gates (1940), who had been with The Murray News in its last days, bought the Herald and operated it until August, 1943 when it went out of busienss. The Herald's motto was "Covers Murray County Like a Blanket of Sunshine." Willellen Brooks was society editor for the Herald. It's first home was on E. Market St. off Third Avenue. Later (about 1938) the office was moved to the Gudger Building on Second Avenue.
Eton's first publication was a magazine type semi-monthly, The North Georgia Agriculturalist and Fireside Magazine, started in July, 1911. MacCowan Greenlee was the editor. We can be certain of only three issues being printed, but there may have been more.
I.E. Millmore, who had been with the papers at Spring Place and Chatsworth, went to Eton and started The Murray County Messenger on July 2, 1914. It is not known how long this paper operated, but there is evidence of 8 issues.