The Pawhuska Journal-Capital is celebrating a major milestone this month — its 110th year of continuous publication serving Pawhuska readers as the primary newspaper of record for Osage County.
The Journal-Capital’s roots grow deep in the community as the newspaper and its antecedent publications have documented the news, politics, sports, business climate and social changes in one of Oklahoma’s most historic and unique communities.
“We’re obviously delighted to mark 110 years in business,” said Journal-Capital Publisher Chris Rush. “Not too many businesses in Oklahoma have been around this long and managed to evolve with the rapidly changing times. The J-C has been around in one form or another to document it all — from the oil booms and busts, to literally thousands of victories and defeats of the Pawhuska High School teams, as well as graduations, marriages, obituaries, murder trials, recipes, letters to the editor — you name it.”
Today’s modern Journal-Capital — published weekly each Wednesday in print and available online at www.pawhuskajornalcapital.com — started from humble beginnings. What follows is the documented history of the J-C, the origins of the earliest newspapers in the Pawhuska area and how these publications developed over time:
Today’s Journal-Capital is an outgrowth of a merger of two earlier newspapers.
“Think of the J-C as the offspring of two newspaper parents,” said Rush. “Like many newspapers today, the J-C traces its ancestry to a couple of earlier publications.”
The first antecedent newspaper, the “Capital,” was started on Jan. 30, 1904 in Pawhuska. Not long afterward, the “Journal,” was established on Dec. 10, 1904.
The present day Journal-Capital is a merger of the Journal with the Capital. The Journal and The Capital both started as weekly publications before becoming independent dailies, then merged before ultimately becoming a weekly publication once again.
But the earliest known newspaper in the region was the “Indian Herald,” first printed in 1875. Its editor was W. McKay Dougan, the former government doctor with the Osage Agency, Indian Territory. A few copies of this newspaper are reportedly preserved in the Osage Tribal Museum.
There was also thought to have been several attempts to establish a weekly paper in Pawhuska in earlier days. Some of those publications were apparently published for only a few months before closing down.
One, reportedly, was a one-sheet paper for which news was gathered locally. The copy was then sent to Arkansas City, Kan., typeset and printed, then returned to Pawhuska for distribution. As far as it can be determined, however, there are no surviving copies of this newspaper in existence.
‘Capital’ and ‘Journal’
Several historical mentions are made regarding early-day Pawhuska newspapers in the book, “The Story of Oklahoma Newspapers,” published in 1984 for the Oklahoma Heritage Association. Written by L. Edward Carter and edited by Kenny A. Franks, the book chronicles the formation and growth of early newspapers in the state and is widely considered the most authoritative and comprehensive source on the subject.
“The present Pawhuska Journal-Capital is an outgrowth of a merger of two early papers, the Capital started January 30, 1904, and the Journal, established December 10, 1904,” states the book. “They were combined in 1925 to form the only daily newspaper in Osage County.”
Officers of the old daily Capital were Richard Elam, president; O. H. Lachenmyer, secretary-treasurer; and Mrs. Lucille Mason, society editor.
Elam originally purchased the Capital — which was then a weekly newspaper — from Vernon Whiting. Elam soon turned it into a daily with the first daily publication on Sept. 8, 1922, after having been initially established as a weekly in 1904.
E. L. Gay was editor; J. A. Knight was the business manager; Guy Marple, who later until his death was a district court official in Pawhuska, was the city editor; Charles I. Callahan was the circulation manager; and Rowland Blanc, who later relocated to California, was the advertising manager.
Elam sold the daily Journal-Capital in 1926 to the McGriffin Newspaper Corporation. Later, according to the published account, “In 1947, Glen Van Dyke, who had served as the paper’s advertising and business manager, purchased controlling stock.”
The first home of the combined newspaper was on East Main in the building subsequently occupied by Jackson Locker Plant (later Don Well’s Insurance building.) All of the equipment of the daily was moved from the building subsequently occupied by the Schlumberger Company, behind the old Duncan Hotel (later Townsley’s Bear Wheel Aligning.)
Although the merger of the two newspapers was completed April 6, 1925, the first issue of the Journal-Capital was not actually published until April 7, 1925. The move of the large equipment was more than the two newspapers combined could handle in one day to have the paper published on time on April 6. The report in the April 7 paper shows that workers moved equipment all night in preparation for the next day’s publication.
The Journal-Capital, celebrated its 25th year as a daily under that name on April 5, 1950. It has remained in continuous publication under the Journal-Capital name ever since.
The Modern Era
The Journal-Capital was owned and operated for many years as a daily and/or a weekly newspaper by Donrey Media, founded by legendary Oklahoma newspaperman Donald W. Reynolds. Donrey, in turn, sold the Journal-Capital, along with the neighboring Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise to Stephens Media in the mid 1990s. Both newspapers are currently owned and by Stephens Media LLC, which operates several dailies and dozens of weekly newspapers across the United States.
The Journal-Capital newspaper office is located at 700 Kihekah in downtown Pawhuska.
Chris Rush serves as publisher; Mary Ann Wise serves as office manager and advertising sales representative; Mike Erwin serves as news and sports reporter; and Deanna Evans provides copy editing and pagination/design services. The newspaper also retains the services of two main correspondents — feature writer Kathryn Swan and news/sports photographer Jack Buzbee. Wynona News correspondent Tennie Sloan has provided weekly column in the J-C for many years.
The J-C is published each Wednesday afternoon and chronicles a week’s worth of news, sports and features in its printed edition. The newspaper also operates a newly revamped website, www.pawhuskajournalcapital.com.
Rack copies of the newspaper sell for $1 and include a complimentary copy of the Wednesday edition of the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise.
A mail subscription to the Journal-Capital within Osage County is $39 per year.
The J-C also maintains a growing Facebook page.