The Lockney Beacon wasn’t the first newspaper published in Lockney despite the fact it is 50 years old.  “The Lockney Ledger” came out with its first edition telling of the affairs of this then young and growing West Texas community almost exactly 4 years previous to the first edition of The Beacon.  As far as The Beacon editor an determine “The Ledger” was the first newspaper published in Lockney.

The first edition of “The Ledger” was published on April 21, 1896, with Jno. C. Hendrix as editor and Romulus Jones as assistant.  Mr. Jones, a brother of Mrs. George Meriwether of Lockney and now living at Kerrville, Texas, was kind enough to loan the Beacon editor a copy of this first edition recently.

Mr. Hendrix was a lawyer and only stayed long enough to get the newspaper started, stepping out soon thereafter leaving it in the hands of Mr. Jones. Mr. Jones was the son of J. B. Jones, an early day photographer of Lockney, and he had just finished his school work at Lockney Christian College, comparable to high school work now.  He had about four or five yars experience in the printing business, having started as a “devil” in the office of the “Lubbock Leader”, Lubbock’s first newspaper, started by Bob Rogers about July, 1891.

Mr. Jones continued to publish “The Ledger” until the fall of 1900 when he sold it to Mrs. Dot Hall, formerly Miss Dot Shafer, whose father, J. M. Shafer, published the Hale County Herald at Plainview.

“The Ledger” was a four page, six column all hand-set weekly, published on Thursday.  The equipment for printing the newspaper was kindly furnished, without charge, by a board which had been given possession of it when a newspaper published at Mayshaw, “The Mayshaw Zephyr”, suspended publication. The town of Mayshaw was located southeast of Lockney and north and a little east of Floydada and existed only a few years.

The printing plan used by the early publishers consisted of an old George Washington hand press and an assortment of 10 point body type, some display type, type cases and stands and a few other pieces of equipment.  After a few months trying experience of pulling the lever that made the impression on the old “G. Washington,” an opportunity presented itself for the purchase of a second-hand 14×22 Universal job press and a pretty good supply of type and other equipment, Mr. Jones made a deal for the “new equipment” and turned the old equipment back to the group who had possession of it originally. He is of the opinion that this group either sold or leased the equipment to the founder of The Beacon, Frank N. Oliver.

After the better equipment was secured for “The Ledger” plant, a small religious paper, “The Bible Student,” edited by Prof. G.H.P. Showwalter discontinued this publication and purchased the “Firm Foundation,” a religious paper published at Austin and is still connected with it.

The first issue of “The Ledger,” is a well printed, well-edited newspaper although quite different from the modern weekly newspaper.  In an article titled “Salutatory” the editors of “The Ledger” say that they seek the upbuilding of the community, Floyd County, and themselves in the publishing of the newspaper.  They promise to deal with facts, not to mislead anyone and to keep the people informed on public issues.  They state that they will be independent in politics and desire to give value received both for money received for advertising and subscriptions.

Another article comments on the date of the first publication as being also the 62nd anniversary of the Battle of San Jacinto in which “700 patriots under the command of one of histories’ most noted men, General Sam Houston, won the greatest battle recorded in the history of the “Lone Star State.”

An “Educational Column” is written by G.H.P. Showalter, in which he discussed a summer normal to be held at Plainview and also the Lockney Christian College, at which the session will close June 10. He tells of the Young Men’s Debating Club and ends with an article urging young people to think seriously on life.

On the editorial page a directory of various state and county officials is given including C.A. Culberson, governor: A. B. Duncan, county judge; J. B. Bartley, county attorney; R. T. Miller, county clerk; E. C. Henry, Sheriff; J. D. Starks, commissioner, Precinct No. 1; W. C. Nichols, commissioner, precinct No. 3; S. B. Chadwick, commissioner, precinct No. 4.

The editor has a long article telling of the only time the United States has declared war, that against England in 1812 and hinting that this country may again have to take such a course, apparently against Spain.

T. F. Beall, county chairman for the Populist Party, issues a call for all precinct chairman to hold precinct conventions in their respective precincts on the third Saturday in May and to send delegates to the county convention meeting at Lockney on May 28. In the same vein a resolution is given signed by Mr. Beall and J.J. Rogers, secretary, in which the men “endorse the action of the reorganization committee at St. Louis, and are opposed to fusion in any form.” The resolution further states that the men are opposed to the present administration, that a change is necessary, and that they favor a co-operative railroad in the state.

A long article in this issue describes Floyd County’s many virtues, telling of its location, altitude, etc.  In the latter part of the article he describes Lockney as “The principal town of the county, located northwest of the center of the county, a thriving little village of 200 population.” It also says, “Floyd City is the other town in the county, it being the county site, located about 12 miles southeast of Lockney and is a very nice little town filled with energetic businessmen.

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