The Cordele dispatch. (Cordele, Georgia) 1926-1971
Place of Publication:
- Cordele, Crisp county
Dates of publication:
- Began with volume 9, number 123 (April 8, 1926); ceased with v. 54, no. 58 (Jan. 8, 1971).
- Cordele (Ga.)--Newspapers.
- Crisp County (Ga.)--Newspapers.
- Merged with: Wilcox County chronicle to form: Cordele dispatch and the Wilcox County chronicle.
- Semiweekly edition carrying its own internal enumeration may have been included as part of this title through February 16, 1941.
- Stated frequency is daily (except Sunday) but actual frequency continues as daily (except Saturday), January 3, 1941-February 16, 1941. Stated frequency and actual frequency may differ at other times as well.
The Cordele dispatch. April 8, 1926
Judge J. B. Smith and Alvin Roberts published the first issue of the Cordele Sunday Dispatch in April 1908 as a 16-page, Democratic Party aligned, weekly paper. The Sunday publishing cycle avoided direct competition with Cordele, Georgia’s leading weekly, the Cordele Rambler, which served as the county’s paper of record at the time. Several railroad lines intersected in Cordele, and its role in the wiregrass region’s rail commerce earned the municipality the moniker “Hub City.” The Dispatch communicated frequently with papers of record in surrounding towns and largely mirrored the political views of those publications. The paper pushed for increased railroad regulation and advocated for agricultural diversification. Along with economic and social reforms, the Dispatch’s owners also printed editorials supporting the disenfranchisement of black voters, falling in line with Democratic policies of the era.
In September 1908, Robert Young Beckham and J. R. Alford, both staff members for newspapers in Dublin, Georgia, purchased the Cordele Sunday Dispatch. The two owners moved the paper’s weekly publishing cycle to Saturday and subsequently dropped “Sunday” from its masthead. Alford sold his shares in the publication to J. E. Pound, who became sole owner by April 1909. Pound managed the Dispatch for five years and expanded the paper from weekly to tri-weekly circulation. Due to financial strain, however, the paper returned to weekly publication in 1912.
Ownership again changed in January 1914, when Judge Max E. Land, former solicitor general of the Cordele Judicial Circuit, purchased the publication from Pound, who moved to Florida to pursue other business interests. Land wrote in a dramatic style, featuring capitalized words for emphasis. Unusual for a Democratic paper in the period, the editor criticized emerging Solid South politics. Although he did not support the Republican Party, Land argued that the virtual one-party rule Democrats had in the South did not always benefit Georgia. Under Land’s stewardship, the Dispatch’s subscription rates surpassed the Rambler’s, and the paper acquired legal advertising rights for Crisp County.
On March 8, 1916, Land announced the formation of the Dispatch Publishing Company with Charles E. Brown as its editor in chief and majority shareholder. Land remained connected to the paper as a shareholder, but moved on to pursue political aspirations, eventually becoming mayor of Cordele. Under Brown’s management, the paper transitioned to daily circulation, and, after absorbing the Cordele Daily Sentinel in June 1920, its title became the Cordele Dispatch and Daily Sentinel. Brown reverted the title to Cordele Dispatch in April 1926, which remains the paper’s title today. In 1930, Crisp County built the first hydroelectric dam in the United States to be owned, constructed, and operated by a county. Brown was among the earliest residents in Crisp County to push for a publicly owned electric plant on the Flint River, and he used the pages of the Dispatch to advance this cause. Brown owned and edited the Dispatch until his death on February 28, 1930, just six months before the hydroelectric dam began operations. Brown’s wife, Florence E. Brown, managed the paper until 1938, when she sold the publication to John W. Greer, Jr. Today, the Cordele Dispatch is owned by Boone Newspapers, Inc. and continues to serve as Crisp County’s legal organ.