The Printing Press
“I am the printing press, born of the mother earth. My heart is of steel. My limbs are of iron and my fingers are of brass.
“I make the songs of the world, the oratory of history, the symphonies of all time. I am the voice of today, the herald of tomorrow. I weave into the warp of the past the woof of the future. I tell the story of peace and war alike.
“I make the human heart beat with passion or tenderness. I stir the pulse of nations and make brave men do brave deeds and soldiers die.
“I inspire the midnight toiler, even at his loom, to lift his head again and gaze with fearlessness into the vast beyond, seeking the consolation of a hope eternal.
“When I speak, a myriad of people listen to my voice–the Anglo-Saxon, the Celt, the Hun, the Slav, the Hindu, all comprehend me. I am the tireless clarion of the news. I cry: ‘Bring joys and sorrows’ every hour. I fill the dullard’s mind with notes uplifting. I am knowledge, light, and power.
“I epitomize the conquest of mind over matter. I am the result of all things mankind has achieved; my offering comes to you in the candle’s glow, amid the dim light of poverty and the splendor of the rich.
“At sunrise, at high noon, and in the waning evening, I am the laughter and the tears of the world, and I shall never die until all things return to the immutable dust.1
First County Papers
The first newspaper in Quitman County was the Quitman Quill, which was owned, published, and edited by Hindman Doxey about 1880. The office was in Belen; the paper consisted of four pages and contained the proceedings of the Board of Supervisors but no other county news.
In 1891, Dr. W. B. Clarke and his son, Eugene P. Clarke, bought the “Quitman Quill” from Mr. Doxey. A copy of the paper dated February 29, 1896, printed nothing pertaining to Quitman County other than the advertisements, which are few in number, and the delinquent tax sale.
Rev. J. L. Smart bought the “Quitman Quill” in 1903 and published and edited it until 1905, when the publication was discontinued. Simultaneously almost, Eugene P. Clarke moved to Marks and began publishing a newspaper call the “Marks Review,” the printing office being in the Yazoo and Mississippi Valley depot.It was an eight-page paper and contained two full-page stories, proceedings of the Board of Supervisors, fashions of the day, world news, and illustrated by pictures sprinkled throughout the pages. The advertisements were not blocked off from the rest of the paper, but were often given prominent places, and the headlines were of the same type as that of the news articles. During the lift of the paper, extending from 1905 to 1916, the office was damaged by fire twice.
The “Marks Review”, 1916, had the following editorial:
“Fool Whiskey Law Will Prove Blow to Temperance”
“The Weakly whiskey bill has passed both houses of the legislature, the Governor has signed the bill, and now it is a law.
“Hereafter you can get only one quart of whiskey every fifteen days, or twenty-four pint-bottles of beer. You cannot get whiskey and beer at the same time. For instance, if you order your quart of whiskey now, you must wait two weeks to order your beer, then two more before you get your whiskey again.
“The whiskey must be kept in its original bottle and no part of it can be emptied into another bottle or vessel and carried to another place, nor can any part of it be packed about in a grip.
“The people of Mississippi are not all children. It is not exactly up to a bunch of fellows to sit up and say just how much and how often they shall eat and drink.
“The result of the whole business is that the pendulum is finally going to swing back the other way. It invariable does, eventually. Every fool movement has its reaction, and the reaction from this is going to bring about a worse condition than ever before existed. It is going to cause officers to violate their oath of office and it is going to breed perjurers and moonshine whiskey, and every other form of devilment and cussedness than can be though of. Finally, it is going to undo everything that has been done for the cause of temperance.2
Quitman County Leader, Successor to Marks Review
“The office and entire plant of the ‘Marks Review’ was destroyed by fire early Tuesday morning, July 4, 1916, the building having about fallen in when found. Origin of blaze unknown. Arrangements have been made by the Western Newspaper Union at Memphis for printing until another plant can be secured. This is the second time that this office has suffered damage by fire, but we still intend to run.”3
The “Quitman County Leader” is the successor to the “Marks Review.” On September 1, 1916, Eugene P. Clarke, publisher and editor of the “Marks Review,” felt that since the paper reached nearly all homes in the county, it should be a county rather than a town paper; hence, he changed the name to the Quitman County Leader. Offices were in the Phelps Building, opposite the courthouse.
The “Quitman County Leader,” in its infancy was a four-page paper, slightly smaller than the “Review.” Unlike the previous papers and as an addition, it had a short editorial column and ran more real county news than previously. Heretofore, only the first page of the paper was of local interest; but, from the first issue until the November 3, 1916 edition it was purely a county paper. At this time, the paper went back to the old form, giving little county news, but a great deal of world news. It also added four more pages.
In this paper, the advertisements were blocked off from the reading matter on the sides of the sheet, rather than in the middle of the most important pages of the paper.
On September 23, 1918, Brown Brothers of Sumner, bought the “Quitman County Leader” from Eugene P. Clarke, and after taking it over, they added an editorial column, in which current events of the day as well as minor happenings were discussed. R. L. Brown was editor until April 24, 1927, when the Paper was sold to Mr. and Mrs. W. M. York; Mrs. L. W. Harris, who became editor was succeeded by Miss Lillian Nolan.
Pellonari at the Courthouse
The following is taken from the files of the Quitman County Leader:
“Giordana Pellonari, known by his friends of Marks as “Joe” will give a concert at the Courthouse on Friday night, December 8. Since his last appearance at Marks, Pellonari has entertained large audiences in New York, Chicago, Memphis and other places. He has been classed by some of the most noted musicians as a second Caruso, and is expected to spend a while with his parents, who reside near here.”4
To Build Steel Bridge at Mouth of Coldwater
“The board of supervisors, at its meeting this week, ordered the advertising for bids for the construction of a steel bridge at the mouth of Coldwater River. This action on the part of the board will meet with the hearty approval of everyone, especially those whose business has for many years necessitated a trip on the ferryboat.4
Car Runs Over Alligator
“Mr. and Mrs. L. J. Barksdale and some friends, while out riding in a car near Sabino a few nights ago, ran over something, which, not seeming like anything else they ever ran over, stopped the car to investigate, and found that they had climbed over an eight-foot alligator, which had for perhaps a long number of years made its home in the marshes of Lost Lake. The saurian was so badly injured that it was very easily killed. It is said that Lost Lake has been the home of a large number of alligators for many years, and the lake being so far into the swamp, they are rarely seen, but at times their bellowing can be heard far into the swamp.”4
The Lambert Enterprise
The “Lambert Enterprise” was published for the first time on January 30, 1917; J. L. Smart was editor and publisher of this paper for three years, and the files of this paper run from January 30, 1917 until February 13, 1920. The paper published out-of-town news mainly, also the following: Supervisor’s proceedings, fashions, kitchen cabinet recipes, column of great men, important events of world in pictures, jokes, and “In the Limelight.” No news items of interest to the county were carried in its columns.
During the year 1921, after selling the “Marks Review,” E. P. Clarke started another paper called The Advertiser. He operated the paper until 1924, when he sold it to Brown Brothers, to be consolidated with “Quitman County Leader.”
Mr. Clarke did commercial jobs as well as printing the paper, which was almost exactly like the “Marks Review.” The files show that the paper ran from January, 1923, to November, 1924. Some interesting articles read as follows:
“Tornado Causes Heavy Damage”
“The little town of Savage, a small town a few miles north of Crenshaw, was again visited by a disastrous tornado, which struck there about six o’clock Thursday evening.
“It is stated that four negroes were killed and several houses were blown down at Lambert.
“In the storm Sunday night, a number of windows in Marks were broken out and several chimneys blown down. Both storms caused some damage to telephone and light wires.”
“Appropriation Made for County Library”
“Since the act by the recent Legislature enabling county boards to donate a small library maintenance came into effect and our present board made a donation for new books, times look better for the permanence of the Quitman County Library.
“To the readers in this town and all over the county, we will say that the new books will be selected with great care and they would like suggestions from readers as to desirable new books for children.
“In regard to the building now used as a library and community house, it is pleasing to state that the last town site note will be paid during the month, leaving only $800 due on the building. The party loaning this money to the Coterie Club agrees to wait ten years for payment, which places the finances of the public library in fine shape.”5
Quitman County Democrat
J. B. Snider, and son bought the paper from Mr. and Mrs. W. M. York and changed the name from Quitman County Leader to Quitman County Democrat. J. B. Snider, Jr., is managing editor, and has been since the purchasing of the paper on March 3, 1927. R. D. Edwards was assistant editor until May 26, 1927, when C. R. Pitts became assistant editor. A. L. Wilkins succeeded him on August 15, 1929, and held this position until February 16, 1933, when J. B. Barnes, Jr. became assistant editor of management and is yet holding this connection. It is an eight-page paper and contains an editorial column, a society column and news articles, proceedings of the county board of supervisors, news of towns and municipalities, and advertisements.
Some of the interesting articles garnered from the paper are as follows:
Slogan for Town of Marks
“In last week’s paper, Dr. Marshall, chairman of the publicity department of the Business Men’s Club, through this paper, announced a prize of $5 to the one submitting the best slogan for the town of Marks. So far, there has been a lot of interest created in this offer and a number of suggestions for the slogan have drifted in. It will take only a few minutes for you to write six words, and it may be your suggestion will be accepted and the $5 be yours. Why not think about this, and send in your suggestion? You should have the town at heart enough to think up a capable suggestion for a slogan, so why not do it?”
Marks, Fertile Community, Your Opportunity
“By agreement of the judges, it was decided to combine the idea furnished by Mrs. Mary H. Smith, Verona, Mississippi–‘Marks Community means your Opportunity’ and that furnished by Mrs. J. H. Carr, Route 1, Lyon, Mississippi–‘Marks, where fertility is Unequaled’–making the official slogan read, ‘Marks, Fertile Community, Your Opportunity.'”
Quitman Float Wins Sweepstakes in Parade
“The highest dreams of those who worked long and hard in building and sponsoring the Quitman County float in the Memphis Cotton Carnival were realized when it won the loving cup, the sweepstakes, prize, for being the most beautiful in the line of parade.
“The loving cup was awarded at the luncheon at the Hotel Peabody in Memphis today to Miss Olive Taylor, and will be on the display in the window of the Democrat office tomorrow.
“The float entered by Rosedale, Miss., won first place in the judging and the sweepstakes cup was won by the Rosedale float in last year’s competition.
“The Quitman float has been described as follows: The float carried out a gold background with yellow roses and green leaves. Miss Quitman County and her maids were seated in large roses on the float. The two pages represented large butterflies, riding at the front corners of the float; a large fold basket on the front representing flowers. From the basket, gold streams ran back to the queen and maids. On each side of the float, three large flowers were made.
“The float was sponsored by the Fally Theater and the Quitman County Democrat. Mrs. B. J. Marshall, who is connected with the Democrat, did yeoman service in staging the series of beauty revues, which were held at the Fally Theater, and in collaboration with Mr. Evans, designed the Float; and both made several trips to Memphis to supervise the building of the float, which was done by Newhouse & Company, Memphis.
“The float, which cost approximately $100 to build, was paid for by the Fally Theater. In the beginning, the management of the Theater agreed to turn over a certain percentage of the proceeds of the money received from the beauty revue nights over to a fund to be used in purchasing the float. Not quite enough was taken in to cover this expense, so Mr. Evans paid the balance out his own pocket.
“Quitman County has won a well-deserved honor, and we feel sure that all citizens of the county will rejoice in receiving this recognition.
“Miss Keeler of Clarksdale, won the title of “Miss Mississippi” in the beauty contest held this morning.”6
Fire Destroys Theatre
“Fire originating in the Star Theatre early Saturday night, destroyed the Star Theatre, the Abernathy Building, and damaged the Savoy Hotel, completely putting it out of business, for the present, at least.
“The blaze was caused by an over-heated stove in the picture show, which was a frame building. It rapidly spread to the Abernathy building, which was an apartment house owned by Dr. J. U. Abernathy, leveling it at a loss of $3500. The flames quickly spread to the Savoy Hotel, a three-story frame building, and partly destroyed it at a loss of $3000.
“The Theatre building was owned by R. W. Brown, and their loss was estimated at $4000. No insurance was held on either building.
“Robert Frazier, deputy sheriff, was stricken with a heart attack while fighting the blaze, and was carried to the Marks Hospital, where his condition is said to be critical.6
Storm Sufferers in Desperate Plight
“The storm that struck Quitman County last week destroyed sixteen houses just west of Darling on the Harper, Townsend, Butler, and Whitehead plantations. The tenants living in these houses lost everything they possessed, and many of the people were injured. They are in need of assistance; the Red Cross chapter and local Kings Daughters are soliciting help. Up to this date, there has been contributed through the Red Cross chapter a little more than $100; some clothing has been sent in to the Kings Daughters to be distributed.”7
High Water, Cold, Causes Suffering
“The highest water ever seen in this vicinity has caused untold suffering and damage in Quitman County this week.
“Coupled with freezing weather, the town of Sledge and the surrounding territory have been inundated, and the work of saving people stranded throughout the country-side has been handicapped to a great extent by the lack of boats and motors. Rescue work has been going forward as rapidly as possible, however, and as we understand it, the majority of people caught in their homes by the waters have been brought to safety.
“Water in the main street Sledge has been full three and one-half feet deep, and the whole town is covered with water, with the exception of the Yazoo and Mississippi Valley depot. Refugees have been brought in there and cared for by the Red Cross under the direction of Mrs. E. York, chairman of the Quitman County Chapter.
“In the territory west of Crenshaw, which was the first struck by the high water in this immediate vicinity, the situation is well under control; everyone in danger has been brought out, we understand from a resident of the town this (Thursday) afternoon. No deaths were reported in this territory.
“The situation is still serious around Sledge, although not as bad as it has been for the past few days. The extremely cold weather, with ice to push the boats through, hindered the work to a great extent. The depot at Sledge has been full of refugees since the work started, and we understand many have been taken to Clarksdale to be cared for.
“Coming on to Darling, the work of rescuing was carried on about one mile west of here, at the Coldwater River bridge, and approximately five hundred people have been brought out of that territory. The sheriff’s force, headed by John Robert Spidle, did yeoman service in that vicinity but were also handicapped by lack of motor boats. The current was so swift that it was absolutely useless to try using rowboats.
“The road between Hinchcliff and Marks went under water Wednesday evening but was still passable late Wednesday night. This road is now passable, and we understand that some of the bridges are out. Rescue work was started today at Falcon and Hinchcliff.
“As this article is being written, water is just about to come in the front door of the Democrat office. Water is now running over the levee of the Coldwater River on the east boundary of Marks, and prospects point to the last four pages of the Democrat being printed with water in the office. The water is running down Main Street and rising steadily.
“Work at Darling Thursday night was being carried on under the direction of Howard Stovall of Clarksdale, who is working from Darling south, and who will follow up the water. Work will be resumed Friday at the river bridge north of Marks under the direction of Mr. Spidle; crew boats will also be working Friday east of Marks, and in the Whitening territory.
“It is expected that the town of Lambert will be in water by Friday, especially the residential district. The territory around Lambert will be flooded without a doubt.
“The Commercial Appeal has been very helpful in securing aid for this section, sending in five motor-boats Wednesday night at Darling, where they were pressed into service. Several of The Commercial Appeal staff are on hand covering the story for the paper and landing whatever assistance they are able. The Democrat asks that you give these boys all the co-operation possible, as they certainly are doing all they can to help in more ways than one.
“The Red Cross has been doing everything possible to alleviate suffering, furnishing food, bedding, heat, etc. Without the assistance of the Red Cross in this disaster, the suffering would have been much greater.
“Ninety-one convicts have been brought in from the Lambert camps to help in building levees around the jail and elsewhere in town where needed. They arrived Thursday morning.
“Reports at this writing were to the effect that Coldwater River bridge on Highway No. 6 to Batesville was just about to go out. We are unable to confirm this now.
“We do not know about the water situation at Crowder; however, we are reliably informed that the CCC camp there is able to care for about fifty refugees.
“The Yazoo and Mississippi Valley Railway has been of great assistance in helping out in this disaster. Cars have been spotted at various points along the line, and people living in them. This has been the only way to get to Sledge and Crenshaw, and Thursday was the first time in four days a train has been able to go as far north as Crenshaw. The train went to Savage this morning.
“Work in the Savage vicinity has been handled out of Tunica County, and about fifty families were taken out of that territory and have been cared for. The situation there is well under control.
“Several deaths have been reported from various places, but only one or two that come from thoroughly reliable sources. It is reported that a colored baby was born out from Crenshaw before help came, but the mother was saved.
A negro and a mule reported drowned in Coldwater out from Darling Wednesday afternoon, while the negro was trying to swim the mule out. The loss of livestock has been heavy.
“It is predicted that by Friday morning, water will be in the stores in Marks on the south side of Main Street; and as this is being written, water lacks only a few inches of coming in the Democrat’s front door, and on down Main Street has covered practically all the sidewalk. The water is rising rapidly.
“More boats and motors are needed to carry on the rescue work. A good many boats have been built, and the great lack is motors with which to propel them. Radio appeals for boats and motors have been broadcast repeatedly.”8
Flood Waters Receding–Refugees Going Home
“The danger of the flood waters in North Mississippi has passed, and the enormous job of rehabilitation is the job now facing this section of the country.
“While there is still a lot of water in this section, it is falling daily and refugees are being returned to their homes as rapidly as possible.
“Many are still under the watched arm of the Red Cross, however, and it probably will be a week or two, and possibly longer, before all are able to return to their homes.
“A good many of the refugees, we understand, were not in their homes at the time but were living with friends or neighbors until they could get located for the coming season and get a ‘furnish.’ Just how many were in this predicament we are unable to say with any degree of accuracy.
“With the sudden influx of refugees filling every available building in Marks, some fear of sickness and epidemic has been felt, but the doctors of Marks have been on the job; and while there has been the usual amount of sickness that could naturally be expected under conditions of this kind, nothing like an epidemic has gained any headway, and it is thought that the chances are slim for anything like this.
“The sanitary conditions of the refugee camps have been watched as carefully as possible, and the danger of disease has been kept at a minimum.
“The old Methodist Church has been used as a temporary hospital, with the Marks Hospital being held in reserve for any serious cases that might need surgical attention. The courthouse, the Methodist and Baptist churches, the Masonic Hall, the Fally Theatre, and the Silent Grove colored church have been used to house refugees. The Yazoo and Mississippi Valley Railroad set in a number of empty cars here and there and they have also been filled with refugees.
“Motor boats may still be heard at practically any hour of the day or night north of Marks, taking the refugees back to their homes. The water has fallen to a great extent, but is still deep enough for a motor boat.”8
“A woman hung around her husband’s neck and said, ‘John, please buy me a season ticket from the Blues to the Radcliffe Chautauqa to be in Marks September 25 and 27.’8
1 “Meridian Star, Centennial Star,” October 22, 1933, written by Robert H. Davis, for R. Hoe and Co.
2 Marks Review, 1916
3 Marks Review, July 4, 1916
4 Files of the Quitman County Leader, 1926-27
5 The Advertiser, 1923-24
6 Quitman County Democrat, 1928
7 Quitman County Democrat, 1933
8 Quitman County Democrat, 1935
Robert H. Davis, The Printing Press, Written for R. Hoe and Co., manufacturers of printing presses.
Works Progress Administration for Mississippi, Source Material for Mississippi History, Quitman County, Vol. LX, Compiled by State-Wide Historical Research Project, Susie V. Powell, State Supervisor, Illustrated 1936-38, Chapter XVIII, pages 231-241.
The picture of the Marks Depot and the Fally Theatre comes from The Quitman County Democrat.
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