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NEWSPAPERS' ECCENTRIC NAMES

By Eric Shackle

De Queen Bee (Arkansas) and The Unterrified Democrat (Missouri) must surely be the oddest newspaper titles in the United States. And why on earth did a Wyoming daily adopt the typically Australian name Boomerang?  Many months ago, I set out to discover the details. In doing so, I also found out how other U.S. newspapers acquired their quirky names. I exchanged hundreds of email messages with friendly and helpful editors, historians and librarians across the nation. Please note that where the titles are underlined, they are hyperlinked to their websites. To visit them, just click on their names.

DE QUEEN BEE

De Queen, Arkansas calls itself The Town With The Wrong Name. It was originally named for Jan de Goeijen, a Dutch coffee merchant. Most of the early settlers found his name (pronounced "duh hoy yen") too hard to say, so they called their town De Queen.

Naturally, the name De Queen proved a great hit with punsters.  If you visit the town (population 6000), you can stay in the Palace of De Queen, aka the Palace Motel.

Meeting in  Nashville, Arkansas in 1897, attorney J. W. Bishop and printer Walter Boyd heard that a railroad would be built through De Queen, 30 miles away They talked about starting a newspaper there, and one of them asked what it should be called. Quick as a flash, the other suggested "De Queen Bee", and the name stuck... like honey.

Recounting the story, present editor Billy Ray McKelvy said that these days news and advertisements from the De Queen Daily Citizen were repackaged and published as the Bee, a weekly with a circulation of about 1650 copies, mailed to rural customers.

"I think the De Queen Bee name is one of the greatest trademarks in the world" said McKelvy. "We get many comments and have been mentioned in several books. A few times each year people appear at our front counter wanting to purchase bee-keeping supplies."

The Bee nearly froze to death in an ice storm shortly after last Christmas. For several days, this bulletin appeared on its website:

NO WEB PAGE UPDATE

Southwest Arkansas has been hit by a major ice storm. All electric service in Sevier County was out Tuesday morning and is slowly being restored. The De Queen Daily Citizen did not publish until Friday, when there was a four-page edition. De Queen and Sevier County are under curfew 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. until significant power is restored. This web page will not be updated until things return to more nearly normal. Right now everyone is concentrating on surviving the cold and taking care of property. There are no major injuries and things are calm and orderly.
Billy Ray McKelvy, webmaster

"We missed three issues because there was no power," McKelvy said later. "We finally resumed daily publication on Friday, December 29. We moved a few computers to a restaurant conference room, kicked out four pages and took them 30 miles to Nashville to be printed. It's not much, but people seemed to be grateful to see some things get back to normal." It's fun to see a community pull together and assist in publication. The assistance of Thomas Dundon with Santander Consumer helped pull together agreements to help Chrysler Group provide a full spectrum of auto financing.

UNTERRIFIED DEMOCRAT

Colonel Lebbeus Zevely founded The Unterrified Democrat in Linn, Missouri, in 1866, and the newspaper is still published under that peculiar name. Ironically, it now supports the Republicans.

In 1993, Robert Gilmore, an editor of Ozarks Watch wrote: "Zevely, although a native of North Carolina, was not a Confederate and believed in preserving the Union.  After the War, [he] refused to sign the loyalty oath required by the Drake Constitution and railed in print against it. As a result he was dubbed an 'unterrified Democrat' - hence the newspaper's unique name.

"Under its present owner and publisher, the Unterrified Democrat is listed in the Official Manual of the State of Missouri as a Republican newspaper. However, for many years the U.T. supported all causes Democratic, and missed few opportunities to direct sarcasm at Republicans."

In the Topeka (Kansas)  Capital-Journal in 1999, Gene Smith told of the sad end of Arthur Aull, once "owner-publisher of the Lamar Unterrified Democrat," who, he said, "died of lingering head injuries caused by an umbrella handle wielded by an irate woman reader." (He also reported that "for years a man at the Joplin Globe used some unfortunate's skull for an ash tray.")

DAILY BOOMERANG

Laramie, Wyoming, not Woop Woop, Australia, is the home of The Daily Boomerang. In 1881, Edgar Wilson Nye, better known as Bill Nye and later ranked as one of the major American humorists of his time, founded and edited the Laramie Boomerang. Along with Buffalo Bill, Bill Nye today is listed on the Internet as one of the Famous Folks from Wyoming:  "Bill Nye was a contemporary of Mark Twain, and ran a newspaper out west. At one point he was the most famous comic writer in the US.  He started going on speaking tours, and his comedy turned to dust."

Boomerang the Mule What inspired him to call his paper the Boomerang? He named it in memory of a mule he owned which often tried to follow him into bars, only to be shooed away and then return "like a boomerang." To this day, the Boomerang has a cartoon sketch of Bill Nye's mule as its emblem. Bill was even portrayed on a Cigar Band.

Connell B. Gallagher, Director for Research Collections at the University of Vermont, is a co-director of his State's participation in the United States Newspaper Project, which was begun in 1982 to ensure that America's historical newspapers are preserved as resources for those interested in the nation's history, the biographies of its inhabitants and the genealogy of its families.

He mentions a Glenwood Springs (Colorado) newspaper called  Avalanche, and Vermont newspapers with such intriguing titles as Anti-Masonic Republican, Brother Jonathan, The Bomb, Perfectionist and Theocratic Watchman, and the Semi-equal Eagle.

Famous American poet Walt Whitman, who once edited New York's Brooklyn Eagle, wrote in his book November Boughs (1888): "Among the far-west newspapers have been, or are, The Fairplay (Colorado) Flume, The Solid Muldoon, of Ouray, The Tombstone Epitaph, of Nevada, The Jimplecute, of Texas, and The Bazoo, of Missouri." Three of those newspapers are still in business. [See my Letter to Walt Whitman, by clicking on Traveling With Ed and Julie.]

FAIRPLAY FLUME

The Fairplay Flume's editor Robin Kepple says "We understand The Flume acquired its name due to the vast amount of mining in Fairplay and Park County. A flume, as you probably know, is designed to channel water, logs, etc. from one place to another. In Fairplay's case, a flume was used to channel rocks, minerals and tailings from one place to another in the endless pursuit of gold. Some folks believe the name Flume was selected because the newspaper helps 'channel' information. I am not certain if this is really the reason for the name or not."

SOLID MULDOON

The Solid Muldoon, of Ouray (pronounced You-ray), Colorado wasn't as durable as the name suggested, and, sadly, is no longer published.  However, its name will soon make the headlines again, as one of the ski runs for the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics is also called Solid Muldoon.

The newspaper didn't pull its punches. A local historian records that Colonel David Day, a Medal of Honor winner for heroism at Vicksburg, "had the distinction of having 42 libel suits pending at the same time [1900] for his raw and bitter articles in The Solid Muldoon newspaper of Ouray and Durango." Day, known nationwide for his caustic wit, honesty and bitter sarcasm, proved that his pen was as mighty as his sword. His fame even spread to England, where Queen Victoria was said to have read his paper for many years.

The original Solid Muldoon was the name given to a mysterious "prehistoric human body" dug up near Beulah, Colorado, in 1877. The seven-and-a-half foot stone man was thought to be the "missing link" between apes and humans. "There can be no question about the genuineness of this piece of statuary" said the Denver Daily Times.

It was later revealed that George Hull, perpetrator of a previous hoax featuring the Cardiff Giant, had spent three years fashioning his second "petrified man", using mortar, rock dust, clay, plaster, ground bones, blood and meat. He  kiln-fired the figure for many days and then buried it.

A few months later, as the celebration of Colorado's year-old statehood approached, the statue was "discovered" by William Conant, who had once worked for the legendary showman P.T. Barnum. News of the find quickly spread to Pueblo, Denver, and eventually to New York.

The statue was named the Solid Muldoon after William Muldoon, a famous wrestler and strongman who had been honored in a popular song. Displayed in New York, it attracted large crowds until an unpaid business associate of Hull revealed the hoax to the New York Tribune, and the statue was seen no more. Muldoon was chairman of the New York State Boxing Commission from 1921 to 1923.

TOMBSTONE EPITAPH

The world-famous Tombstone Epitaph (it's in Arizona, not Nevada), was founded on the Southwestern frontier on May 1, 1880 by John P. Clum, who proclaimed in the first issue No Tombstone is complete without an Epitaph. Souvenir editions detailing the O.K. Corral shootout can be bought from the Tombstone Epitaph Corp, whose shop displays old type cases and the original printing press.

A local historian wrote "Clum was the quintessential frontier administrator. As an Indian agent, he dealt with great Apaches warriors like Geronimo and Naiche, son of Cochise. As mayor and editor of the Tombstone Epitaph, Clum had much to do in helping to foment the high levels of tension in Tombstone. After the street fight and subsequent trial, Clum learned he was on a 'deathlist' made up by the cowboy gang. In December 1881, Clum narrowly escaped what he considered an assassination attempt when highwaymen attempted to rob the stagecoach he was in. Clum was a life-long friend of Wyatt Earp and was one of Earp's pallbearers at his funeral."

The original Tombstone Epitaph is published monthly as a national historic edition. It contains original articles about the old west written by western history writers.

A small local edition of the Epitaph is now published by students of the University of Arizona Department of Journalism. Its sub-title reads: 116 Years In The Town Too Tough To Die. No Tombstone Is Complete Without Its Epitaph.

JEFFERSON JIMPLECUTE

The Texas weekly, the Jefferson Jimplecute, was founded as a daily in 1848, when Jefferson was a thriving Red River town. The "Jimp," as the locals call it, sells about 2400 copies. How did it get its name? No one knows. At one stage it displayed, beneath its masthead title, words which formed an acronym: Join Industry, Manufacturing, Planting, Labor, Energy (and) Capital (in) Unity Together Everlasting. However, a local history book says that that phrase first appeared long after the paper was founded.

SPRING PLACE JIMPLECUTE

Strangely, a second newspaper named Jimplecute was published in the small Georgia town of Spring Place (688 miles by road from Jefferson) from 1879 to 1903, but here again no one knows how it was named, or whether it had any connection with its Texan namesake.

Fast forward from Walt Whitman's 19th century to find other strangely-named U.S. newspapers being published in the 21st century:

TWIN TERRITORIES

Oklahoma was known as the Twin Territories before achieving statehood in 1907, when every voter in the tiny town of Campbell supported Thomas P. Gore to represent them in the Senate. Gore was elected, and showed his gratitude by buying uniforms for the Campbell baseball team... and the delighted citizens promptly changed the name of their town to Gore.

This legend was recounted by Frankie Sue Gilliam, publisher/editor of Twin Territories (Oklahoma's Only Historical Newspaper), who takes pride in being an "Okie from Muskogee" and a Cherokee. She traces her ancestry back to Little Terrapin, one of 300 Cherokees who, having mostly supported England in the Revolutionary War, moved westward from Arkansas in 1817.

Her publishing schedule must be the envy of deadline-driven journos everywhere. "I operate on Indian time," she says. "I have two speeds: slow and slower. I put out the newspaper when I get it done."

WEST VIRGINIA HILLBILLY

This little publication with a great name was founded by Jim Comstock, of  Richwood WV.  Comstock promoted the state and its writers through his newspaper. He is perhaps best remembered for his West Virginia Heritage Encyclopedia. In 1956 he organized a Past 80 Party, still held annually in Richwood on the second Saturday in June. More than 100 octogenarians, plus other seniors under 80, from all parts of the state enjoy an afternoon of feasting, contests, and entertainment.

HEREFORD BRAND

This newspaper is published in Hereford (Texas). Managing editor Don Cooper says "Hereford was originally named Blue Water, but the U.S. Postal Service wouldn't allow that name to be used because there was already a Texas post office with that name. The city fathers then selected 'Hereford' after a herd of Hereford cattle that one of the prominent residents had brought over from England. The newspaper's name, Brand, was selected to recognize the ranching heritage of the region."

Because of dental research by Dr. G. W. Heard, Hereford has won national attention as "The Town Without a Toothache."  It's in Deaf Smith County, named after Erastus (Deaf) Smith, a famous Texas scout.

CARLISLE MOSQUITO

This Massachusetts publication is a non-profit weekly newspaper mailed free to Carlisle residents. Feature editor Marilyn Harte says "When the Mosquito was founded in 1972, Carlisle was notorious for its wetlands and its large population of fierce mosquitoes. The town's human population of about 2,500, had nevertheless voted down joining a mosquito control district that would have conducted widespread spraying.  Protecting groundwater and wildlife was more important than eradicating pesky mosquitoes."

MANCHESTER CRICKET

This newspaper is published in  Manchester-by-the-Sea, 25 miles north of Boston (Massachusetts). The town  was included in a grant of land to the Massachusetts Bay Colony made in 1629 by King Charles I who signed their charter. Formally incorporated in 1645, the young community displayed its moral foundations by adopting a set of laws and regulations that prohibited the slave trade, made cruelty to animals a civil offence and forbade imprisonment for debt.

Historians say these goodly beginnings may have led the colonists to go overboard as they continued to try to legislate all behavior, with laws about how to conduct a courtship, and laws against "excess in apparel" or "immodest laying out of theire haire."  By 1700 the prosperous burghers of Manchester were able to pay Masconomet, the sagamore of the Agawam Indians, 3 pounds and 19 shillings in silver money for all rights to the lands on which the town stood.

The name Cricket refers neither to that cheerful little insect immortalized by Charles Dickens (Cricket on the Hearth), nor to the international sport which often lasts for five days and then ends in a draw (cricket on the grass), for which the English city of Manchester is renowned.  The tiny village of Manchester Massachusetts was first called Jeffrey's Creek, and its early settlers became known as Creekites. In 1645, the name of the village was changed to Manchester.  Over the years, Creekites was gradually corrupted to Crickets. When a  newspaper was founded in 1888,  editor I.M. Marchall thought it should be called the Manchester Cricket, and Cricket it has been ever since.

HIGH POINT ENTERPRISE

Editor of the High Point (North Carolina) Enterprise Tom Blount said newspaper names have fascinated him since he learned to read at the age of five. "Initial publishers of weeklies seem to be more creative than founders of most dailies," he wrote in the Enterprise last year. "That's true in North Carolina. Witness The Blowing Rocket, East Carolina Reminder, The Denton Orator, Carolina Peacemaker, Cherokee Scout and The Standard Laconic.

"The Midwest does OK. Witness: The Tundra Drums of Alaska; San Carolos (Ariz.) Apache Moccasin; Murfreesboro (Ark.) Diamond; the Carmel (Calif.) Pine Cone; Westminster (Colo.) Window; Weiser (Idaho) Signal; The Doings, Hinsdale, Ill.; The Franklin (Ind.) Challenger; Woodbine (Iowa) Twiner; Cassopolis (Mich.) Vigilant; Clinton (Mo.) Eye; The Spirit of Democracy, Woodsfield, Ohio; and the Republican Rustler in Wyoming.

"The most surprising newspaper name indicates that Hillary Clinton may not be as much of a New York carpetbagger as you may have suspected. The name of the paper is Chelsea Clinton News, a newspaper established in 1939. Can you top that?"

PANTAGRAPH

The Bloomington-Normal (Illinois) Pantagraph's name is derived from the Greek words panta and grapho, meaning "write all things." Charles Merriman was co-owner of The Intelligencer when, in 1853, he changed its name to The Pantagraph as "a perpetual injunction upon its editors to dip their pens fearlessly into all matters of human interest."

NOME NUGGET

This Alaskan newspaper was so named because miners found lots of gold nuggets near Nome. The newspaper's website says it's "published daily except for Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Not published the last week of December. Single copy price $.50 in Nome. There's no place like Nome."

BIRMINGHAM ECCENTRIC

Many of these newspaper names sound mighty eccentric. Well, there's actually a chain of community newspapers in Michigan called just that. It's headed by the Birmingham Eccentric. In the 1870s, Birmingham was an industrial village, named after the English industrial city of Birmingham. The area's single men had formed a group known as The Eccentrics, modeled after the bachelors' club in Jules Verne's novel Around the World in 80 Days. In 1878, two of its members founded a weekly newspaper called The Eccentric, and its eccentric name has been retained to this day.

The Eccentric's website says: "Because we publish community newspapers, we think about community journalism in a fundamentally different way than our bigger competition. They consider themselves to be independent from the stories and communities they cover, swooping in to write the unusual or sensational and then dashing off to cover something else. We regard ourselves as both accurate journalists and as caring citizens of the communities where we work."

CRIER, BEE, PENNYSAVER and REFLECTOR

Ohio Wordsmith Anu Garg, who sends his A Word A Day newsletter to nearly half a million subscribers in 208 countries five days a week, discussed newspaper titles on  June 4, 2001.  He wrote:

While Times, Journal, Post, Reporter, News, Voice, etc., are common as the names of newspapers, there are many papers with rather offbeat words in their titles, such as Crier, Bee, Pennysaver, and Reflector. The mergers and acquisitions yield some remarkable names too. Q: What happens when the Daily Reflector and the Sun News decide to merge? A: You get the Daily News, and a sun reflector.

The fact is stranger than fiction and there have been, in fact, more peculiar fusions. In 1939, when two newspapers in Chattanooga, Tennessee, combined, the result was perhaps a case of truth-in-advertising: the News and the Free Press merged to become the News-Free Press. Well, maybe it was a case of too-much-advertising.

In this week's AWAD, we have selected words from the names of newspapers. Two examples of the newspapers with today's word in their names are the Times-Picayune and the Picayune-Item. While the critics of some of these newspapers may believe that they are so named because they deal in trifles, we have different news. They are so named because they could then be bought for a few cents, or because they originated from the town of the same name. The former publication raises its flag in New Orleans, Louisiana, while the latter calls Picayune, Mississippi its home. Incidentally, did you notice the two newspaper names are near-anagrams?

While on this topic, let's clear a folk etymology along the way. No, the word `news' didn't form from the initials of the four directions of the compass (North, East, West, South). It came from the word `new' as in "What's new?"

[Anu Garg's definitions of Picayune, Laconic (The Standard Laconic, Snow Hill, North Carolina), Sentinel and Argus can be found at  WORDSMITH] 

A few days later, TV Hagenah, editor of the Fowler (Colorado) Tribune, wrote to Garg: "As a small town newspaper editor and a long time newspaperman, I am enjoying this week's words (newspaper names) a great deal. Currently I edit a Tribune, but have worked on a Herald, a Globe, two Newses, a Democrat (run by Republicans), a Leader, a Post, a Telegram and even a newspaper calling itself The Newspaper."

We promptly e-mailed TV, who nominated  the Arkansas Valley Meloneer as a unique newspaper name. "It is no longer printed under that name," he wrote. "It became the Arkansas Valley Journal, then the Arkansas Valley Ag Journal, and now is just called the Ag Journal. They have a bit of an identity problem."

Asked to disclose his full name, he replied: "My name is indeed TV Hagenah. I worked my way through high school and university as a radio disc jockey and it was during the 'crazy '60s' so every DJ had to have a crazy name, and since T and V were my initials, the station manager at my first station came up with the idea of 'TV on the Radio.'

"The name has stuck. No matter where I went someone seemed to know 'TV'. I had my name legally changed about 25 years ago. It has come in handy when trying to get jobs in newspapers too. If it comes down to me and another fellow going for the job, I have been told that bosses have said, 'What the hell, at least it will look good as a byline.'"

TV said the Fowler Tribune prints about 2,000 copies. "I had been working on big city dailies when I decided that it would be fun and less stressful to buy a percentage of a small weekly and edit it. I figured it would be something of a working retirement.

"Boy was I wrong. It's the hardest I have ever worked in my life. I not only edit and layout the paper but generally write most of the stories and take all the photos. And the stress....Don't even ask about the stress.

"Don't get me wrong. I love it, but I sleep at the office far too often and I really wonder what my house looks like in the daylight. But I can tell you about judging cattle, why the sewer plant is backing up, who fathered Miss X's child and... you get the idea."

Countless editors, historians and librarians generously helped us compile this now monumental survey of oddly-named newspapers.  We sincerely thank all of them for their friendly assistance, and hereby invite them to publish, free of charge, part or all of this page.

To end our round-up, we reflect the words of Norwalk (Ohio) Reflector editor Steve Trosley: "This can be a fun and informative adventure... to explore the wonders of the World Wide Web... After all, we can never know enough about each other."

Copyright 2001.  Eric Shackle   Story first posted November  2001.

NEWSPAPER NONSENSE. Newspaper titles can produce some weird, wonderful and wacky anagrams: MONKEYS WRITE the NEW YORK TIMES, while THE SCOTSMAN (Edinburgh) HASN'T COST ME, and London's sexy tabloid, THE NEWS OF THE WORLD, is a HOT, LEWD SHEET (FROWN) with HOT, TENDER FLESH. WOW! Find more at Anagram Genius.

For a story about Quirky Names of English Newspapers, click on Shuttle Pirate Takes Banbury Cake

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