The first newspaper published in Hawkinsville was the Pulaski Times, the first edition of which appeared September 9, 1858, with Gen. O. C. Horne and P. E. D. Scarborough as editors and proprietors. This issue gave, in an interesting way, the news of the day, and solicited subscribers, and urged the people to lend their support to this new enterprise.
On September 1, 1859, General Horne sold his interest to Col. C. C. Kibbee, and it was then under the management of Scarborough and Kibbee. The issue of this date includes an editorial by Colonel Kibbee in which he states that he “assumes his duties and responsibilities in the editorial chair.” For several years the Pulaski Times continued under this management, till war was declared between the states; then they discontinued publication through the entire period of the war. After the war, a new paper was published, known as the Hawkinsville Dispatch, with Mr. W. H. Paxton and Mr. John Laidler as editor and proprietor. Mr. Laidler sold his interest to Mr. Paxton on January 31, 1867, who immediately assumed control. On June 6th of that same year Mr. Paxton sold it back to Mr. Laidler. On August 22nd Mr. Laidler sold it to Mr. George P. Woods. The issue of that date includes a valedictory by Mr. Laidler, thanking the people for their patronage, and a salutatory by Mr. Woods, asking the cooperation of the people. Again it changed hands January 6, 1869, when it was bought by Mr. Denis W. D. Boully, who became editor and proprietor.
Mr. George P. Woods again became proprietor on June 9, 1870, and, together with Mr. A. Foucha, the Dispatch continued as a weekly publication. In July 1889, the Dispatch was in the hands of Mr. George P. Woods, Mr. J. T. Waterman, and Mr. J. J. Whitfield (see sketch of J. J. Whitfield).
Mr. J. T. Waterman, as a young man during the war, had a position with the J. W. Burke Company in Macon, and there received his inspiration for journalism. He first owned the Perry Journal, later was editor of the Thomaston paper. While there he won the prize offered for the best county paper in the State, also a medal for the best essay on “The Material Development of the South,” offered by the Cotton States Exposition in Atlanta. However, his outstanding characteristic was his interest in and work for temperance. He never allowed a liquor advertisement in any paper that he was connected with. Mr. Waterman was the father of Carrie Waterman Parsons (Mrs. W. N.) of our city.
By this time the city of Hawkinsville boasted of two papers-the Hawkinsville Dispatch and the Hawkinsville News. The new paper, the Hawkinsville News, presented its first edition February 11, 1885, with Mr. J. R. Beverly as editor and proprietor. On May 12, 1886, it was under the management of Beverly and Bowen, and continued under their management till January 1889. Realizing that the town was hardly large enough for two papers, and as each paper was practically a duplicate of the other, it was decided that the two papers should consolidate. The two consolidated on January 2, 1890, and became the Hawkinsville Dispatch and News. At this time Mr. J. J. Harvard became publisher, with Mr. Beverly and Mr. Waterman editors. Mr. Woods and Mr. Waterman were forceful writers and held in the highest esteem.
On October 26th, Mr. Harvard bought the interest of Mr. Beverly and Mr. Waterman, and became proprietor, and on this date Mr. Josephus Tarver became editor. Mr. Tarver had at that time been connected with the paper for twenty years, having begun as an apprentice boy in 1873, with the Hawkinsville Dispatch, which was at that time owned by Mr. George P. Woods.
For many years the Dispatch and News continued under the management of Mr. Harvard and Mr. Tarver. For a short while, Mr. R. E. Butler was associate editor. He was born in Sparta, Georgia, and educated in Augusta. He served on the advertising staff of the Constitution several years, and also served as manager of the advertising department of the Macon Telegraph. Mr. Tarver’s death occurred December 4, 1918, and Mr. Harvard continued as publisher and editor till July 1, 1925, when he sold the paper to Mr. M. W. Harris. (See sketch of J. J. Harvard and J. Tarver.)
After thirty-five years as acting publisher, during which he rendered his community invaluable service, Mr. J. J. Harvard sold the Dispatch and News in 1925 to M. W. Harris, former superintendent of city schools, who had recently resigned that position. The editor assumed his responsibilities on the first day of July 1925.
For six months following its purchase by Mr. Harris, the Dispatch and News remained in the Harvard building, where it had been located for many years. But as this building was desired for other purposes by Mr. Harvard, the printing establishment was moved to the Dupree building adjacent to the Hawkinsville furniture and undertaking establishment of W. L. Joiner.
With the friendly cooperation of merchants and citizens the new editor had just about acquired the necessary experience to handle the business smoothly when in 1927 fire caught to the ceiling of the building and the Dispatch and News, together with the Hawkinsville furniture and undertaking establishment was leveled to ashes.
Immediate plans were made for its rebuilding, and in a few months it was in operation with considerable new equipment added. During this period the paper was published without the loss of an issue through the courtesy of a neighboring publisher, Mr. Ross Hammock, of the Cochran Journal.
The next few years were difficult ones for the Dispatch and News. Between the ravages of the boll weevil and a low cotton market, business was reduced to a low ebb, and the editor had to acquire the skill of “David Harum” in the art “of swapping trade.” In October, 1932, the Dispatch and News was sold to Mr. Pound, of Cordele, who assumed charge immediately, the former editor and his family leaving for Maryland, where he had accepted a newspaper position in that State.
Mr. Harris came here in 1919 as principal of our public schools, and later became superintendent, which position he held for six years. He was also county school superintendent of Pulaski County. Mr. Harris was educated at Dickinson College at Carlisle, Pa.
In May, 1933, the Dispatch and News was bought by J. E. Baynard from C. A. Pound, who had operated the paper for about six months. The new editor, a graduate of Emory University, came to Hawkinsville from Cordele, where he was associated with the Cordele Dispatch. Mr. Baynard is married and has one son. He is a member of Sigma Pi fraternity, and is a Legionnaire. In 1934 he was president of the Hawkinsville Chamber of Commerce.
Since the Dispatch and News came under the ownership of Mr. Baynard it has never been less than eight pages per issue, and on several occasions has gone to ten or twelve. The paper has stood for the development of Hawkinsville and Pulaski County and has given its weight to all constructive enterprises. It has advanced along the line that the duty of a weekly is to serve its neighborhood, giving local news predominance and using its editorial page for the good of the community. It has earned the good will of the various clubs of the city and is esteemed by the business men. The Dispatch and News is a Democratic newspaper and is the official organ of the County of Pulaski and the City of Hawkinsville.
Two of what might be termed special editions of the paper have been put out recently. One was the NRA edition, and the other was the theatre edition. Also two Christmas shopping editions received a good deal of praise. The Dispatch covers Pulaski County, goes in good numbers into Wilcox and Dodge, and is represented in many other counties and cities of the State. Subscribers are listed in New York, California, and Arizona. The personnel of the paper consists of J. E. Baynard, owner and editor; Chas. R. Harvard, linotype; Duncan McRae, presses; Miss Emma Caldwell, society; and six county correspondents. The number of new subscribers since the new editor came is estimated at from 100 to 150. The advertising has increased materially, and indications point to a successful business. The two men most prominently identified with this paper were Mr. Harvard and Mr. Tarver, Mr. Harvard having served thirty-five years and Mr. Tarver forty-five years. This paper claimed their best efforts, and the major portion of their lives. They at all times exerted their efforts to promote through their columns the welfare and best interests of the town and county.
It has always been a clean paper, and a real ornament to journalism in Georgia. These two men were upright Christian gentlemen and their influence will long be felt in this community where they served so long and so faithfully.
The pen is made of brass and on the same order as the old fashioned goose quill pen. The case contains, in addition to the ink stand and pen, a penknife and pieces of loaded or magnetized steel. It is indeed an interesting and valuable relic. This relic is in the possession of a great-grandson, Mr. E. A. Burch, of Bradenton, Florida.
In looking over the minutes for 1809 we found recorded a schedule of property given by Asa Pipkin to his granddaughters, Lucretia and Gracy White. The schedule consisted of three cows and calves, one sow and pigs, and one feather bed. On records for 1813, we found the following list of grand and petit jurors for the April term of the court that yea:
Grand Jurors: James M. Taylor, foreman; Archibald Lasseter, Christopher Rhodes, William H. Gross, Louis Holland, Isaac Buckhalt, Micajah H. Powell, Joab Horne, William Deshazo, Daniel Ragan, Benj. Brown, William Jelks, Archibald Odom, Jacob Snell, William Yarborah, William Isler, William Harvey, James Bracewell, Daniel Cole, John Gilstrap, Reuben Warren.
Petit Jurors-Panel No. 1: Adam Billings, Solomon Lamb, Thomas Thombley, George Kelly, Humphrey Posey, Edmund Hester, William W. Smith, Malaciah Kelly, John Lee, John Dees, William Little, Thomas Currin.
Petit Jurors-Panel No. 2: James Dykes, William Hamilton, Ezekiah Philipps, William Holland, William Lester, Nimrod Smith, Henry Willis, Daniel Dykes, Moses Sutton, Dennis Adarns, John Coleman, Christopher McRea.
A defaulting juror at this term of court (1813) was fined five dollars.
Richard H. Thomas, the first clerk of the court, held the office from 1809 to 1814, when he was succeeded by Turner Everett. Turner Everett was succeeded as clerk of the court in 1816 by Edward Smith. In 1818 Edward Smith was succeeded by Gray B. Gardner, the latter holding the office until 1825, when he was succeeded by Wesley Yarborough. Joseph Carruthers succeeded Wesley Yarborough in 1829, and in 1838 John V. Mitchell was succeeded by Batts N. Mitchell in 1854, and in 1860 E. A. Pollock was elected clerk. Andrew M. Frazier succeeded E. A. Pollock in 1862. E. A. Burch, the present incumbent, was elected October 22, 1866, which position he has held every year since.
During Mr. Burch’s term of office he has never had a paper returned to him from the Superior Court for correction, and a neater, more exact or more conveniently arranged set of records cannot be found in the State. During his long term of office Mr. Burch never minded attending to the important duties of his position a single term of the court, except by sickness. He has served the county faithfully and efficiently.