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North Missourian Vaults into 150th Year

After this edition is put to bed, the Gallatin North Missourian will begin its 150th year serving Daviess County. As proudly stated each week in the front page flag, “Our Best To You Each Week Since 1864.”

A peek at what the North Missourian was in its infancy is as close to you as the Daviess County Library. Copies of this newspaper stored on microfilm date back to Sept. 15, 1864 (there are gaps in the archive, see list). Avid genealogists already know this. Our county library not only serves as a depository of record (as does an archive kept by the state in Columbia) but also assists those researching this journal.

Microfilm available for public viewing at the library is much more efficient than searching the bound volumes housed here at the newspaper office.

Printing an edition once-a-week means stability for advertisers and is also a requirement for a newspaper to retain legal status and postal permits. Thus, regularity is the lifeblood of a community newspaper.

Perhaps the most famous entry in any account of journalism in Gallatin didn’t directly involve the North Missourian at all but, instead, its most ambitious rival. Following the Civil War, Democrats still emotionally aligned with the interests of the Confederacy initiated the Gallatin Democrat. By 1885 this rival newspaper nearly matched the (Republican) North Missourian in size. Both newspapers had approximately 1,000 subscribers.

In 1919 popular Democrat publisher Wesley L. (Uncle Wes) Robertson was shot and killed by a disgruntled former city clerk, climaxing a bitter 4-year feud over local politics. The incident later took on greater proportions as Robertson was declared Missouri’s “Newspaper Martyr” and the notoriety later spread as the scene of the crime was one in a series of paintings commissioned by the Missouri Press Foundation in 1986.

At the time of the shooting, however, there was concern about the Democrat’s future. Following the unfortunate shooting, Robertson’s partner, Robert J. Ball, was grief-stricken with guilt, thinking his decisions contributed to his partner’s death. Ball soon moved away from Gallatin to make his professional mark with newspapers in Colorado. And the Democrat faltered.

In 1926 when the biggest bank in Daviess County failed, the North Missourian and the Gallatin Democrat were moved into the same printing plant. Both publications were owned by the Harrison family. The Democrat continued publication on Tuesdays; the North Missourian was published on Thursdays.

Although all sorts of editorial and typographical gimmicks were tried to maintain a distance between the two newspapers, eventually the two papers were identical with the exception of the nameplates and switching of editorials. When Joe and Kathy Snyder took ownership, the two-newspaper plan was suspended with the North Missourian chosen as the survivor.

The North Missourian was printed in offset when Mr. Snyder entered into a new printing venture with a press centrally located in Gallatin between partners M.O. Ridings of the Hamilton Advocate-Hamiltonian and Don Sheridan of the Princeton Post-Telegraph. A common-section shopper was shared by these publishers called the Pony Express which continues in publication to this day. Eventually, the Snyders became sole owners of the printing plant named Lakeland Publications due to the development of Lake Viking which was then underway.

The current publishers, Darryl and Liz Wilkinson, moved to Gallatin in 1978 and embarked on a stock purchase agreement with the Snyders. The Wilkinsons initiated the transition from film processing to computer desktop publishing and digital applications. Subscribers to the North Missourian peaked in the 1980s when printing exceeded 3,000 copies per week.

The North Missourian changed from a “metro” or broadsheet format to its current tabloid format in 1995. The publishers discontinued an affiliation with the Pony Express shopper in 2007 in order to launch their own shopper to compliment the North Missourian. It continues today as The Ad Zone. This shopper delivers over 20,000 copies printed in two separate editions, distributed into every household in three counties mostly via the U.S. Postal Service.

But despite the commercial success of the shopper and the growing importance of internet applications, the printed North Missourian has always been considered the flagship publication of Gallatin Publishing Company. It is the newspaper for which the company is best known.

In 2008 the company relocated from offices along North Main Street just off the business square into a former factory building off South Main Street to accommodate the purchase of a larger newsprint press. Not long after that move, full color printing on selected pages of the North Missourian was delivered to subscribers for the first time ever.

The North Missourian launched a free online internet edition in addition to its print editions during the early 1990s. After a major upgrade and revisions, the online edition of the North Missourian was offered on a subscription basis beginning in July 2012, and continues today.

“We take our responsibilities in serving this community seriously,” says Publisher Wilkinson. “It is sobering to reflect upon the hours and hours of sweat and strain that have been poured into this publication decade after decade before we arrived and the resolve necessary to assure a profitable future in what some of the fearful describe as a new age of disruption.

“A community newspaper is only as strong as its community. We believe Gallatin and Daviess County have a distinctive voice in the dialogues that define small town America and rural Missouri, and we hope to play a positive role in shaping this community’s future.”

Historical annuls note that Gallatin has been served by seven newspapers. David L. Kost is recognized as the principal founder of the North Missourian.

Missouri Sun 1853 …in politics, it was Democrat

Gallatin Sun 1855 …supported by members of the “Know Nothing Party”

Western Register 1858 …a Chillicothe editor returning focus to the Democrat Party

People’s Press 1862 …renamed the Western Register and refocused to only local issues

North Missourian 1864 …initiated by teacher-farmer-Civil War veteran D.L. Kost and lawyer B.J. Waters and in politics, Republican; by 1882 circulation increased to 1,000 subscribers

The Torchlight 1866 …giving vent to Democrat views immediately after the Civil War

Gallatin Democrat 1869 … renamed the Torchlight and competed against the North Missourian for decades in a friendly rivalry between various publishers before the two newspaper merged soon after the post office adopted the Zip Code in 1963. Publisher Joe Snyder chose to continue the North Missourian banner since it was the older of the two publications.

Publication dates in the archive for the North Missourian are as follows:

Sept. 15, 1864 through Aug. 20, 1866;

Jan. 3, 1867 through Aug. 12, 1869;

Oct. 10, 1872 through Sept. 30, 1875;

Jan. 7, 1886 through Sept. 15, 1887;

Aug. 19, 1892 through Nov. 19, 1897;

Feb. 10, 1898 through Dec. 27, 1900;

Aug. 1, 1901 through present

Principal Publishers of the North Missourian (some dates are approximate):

David L. Kost and B.J. Waters, 1864-1868

David L. Kost and J.T. Day, 1868-1870

J.T. Day and W.T. Foster

Josiah Powell and William T. Sullivan

R.M. Harrah, 1894-1899

D.H. Gilchrist, 1899-1901

C.M. Harrison, 1901

S.G. McDowell, 1901-1913

C.M. Harrison & Fred Harrison, Scout Harrison 1913-1952

Joe & Kathy Snyder, 1952-1988

Darryl & Liz Wilkinson, 1988-present

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