The Lee County journal. (Leesburg, Ga.) 1904-19??
Place of Publication:
- Leesburg, Lee county
Dates of publication:
- Vol. 8, no. 34 (Mar. 5, 1904)-
- Georgia--Lee County.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01211772
- Lee County (Ga.)--Newspapers.
- Leesburg (Ga.)--Newspapers.
- Also on microfilm: Athens, Ga. : University of Georgia Libraries.
- Latest issue consulted: July 3, 1959.
The Lee County journal. March 5, 1904
George L. Keen published the first four-page issue of the Lee County Journal in January 1898 in Smithville, Georgia. Previously, the county relied on newspapers in the nearby cities of Americus and Albany to carry legal advertisements and local news. Even after the Journal’s founding, the paper experienced several temporary suspensions as the county’s impoverished sharecropping community could not support a robust paper. The Journal’s editorial tone mirrored that of papers from neighboring counties and featured partisan content that firmly supported the Democratic Party and white supremacy. This editorial direction continued into the 20th century, when Lee County’s notorious reputation for violence against its Black residents led civil rights activists to select the county for early integration efforts in the 1960s.
Keen managed the paper until March 1900 when he sold it to C. A. Wallace, who subsequently moved the publication to the county seat of Leesburg in November 1901. Wallace managed the Journal until Alfred Z. Wesley and M. E. Tison purchased the paper in March 1904. Wesley left a month later, and illness forced Tison’s retirement in April 1905. Tison’s wife, Minnie Tison, then published the paper until Charles Howell Beazley acquired it in September 1905. Beazley gained attention across the state for his “Crackerlings and Caramels” column, which featured animated poems and editorials.
Beazley’s sprawling business interests and political aspirations, however, resulted in the sale of the Journal to D. D. Hall in May 1908. Hall was unable to sustain the Journal, and it ceased publication in February 1910. Prominent Lee County citizen Henry Lafayette Long then gathered enough investors to revive the Journal in May 1910. With no prior newspaper experience, Henry Long directed the paper until his son, Americus-Times Recorder editor Frank T. Long, assumed management of the Journal. Over the next four years, the paper’s subscriber base more than doubled under his direction. When Frank Long took a teaching job in Dawson, Georgia, in December 1914, Z. V. Blanton took over and controlled the sheet for two years.
J. G. Pruett purchased the paper in July 1916, but was largely an absentee owner, and he leased the paper out several times during his proprietorship. Mismanagement and editorial turnover led to a decline in readership, and the paper almost ceased publication. Beginning in September 1919, the Journal printing plant continued to regularly churn out issues, but each issue was nearly identical, with little else besides the date in the masthead altered. The paper was only briefly rejuvenated in January 1920, when John M. Sadler and Dan L. Avery bought the sheet. Both owners left in February, and the Journal entered another period of publishing reprints on a week-to-week basis.
When Julius Perryman Horne acquired the Journal in October 1920, it had less than 200 subscribers, the lowest in the history of the paper. Horne’s salutatory editorial followed common tropes for a welcoming address, and he promised to make Leesburg his home. Horne proved true to his word, and he lived in Leesburg until his death in 1962. Staying with the paper until his retirement in June 1934, Horne is the Journal’s longest-standing editor and owner. Following Horne’s departure, John Crouch became the new owner until J. L. Taylor of Talbotton purchased the Journal in 1936 and added it to his growing syndicate of newspapers. The Journal passed through the hands of several more owners before coming under the management of William O. Davis in the 1950s. Later that decade, the declining sheet lost its legal organ status to the Albany Herald, and the Journal ceased publication in the 1960s.