Fannin County Museum of History
One Main Street, Bonham, Texas
Liberty One and Inseparable
Bonham Daily Favorite, November 6, 1994
By the third year of its publication, The Bonham Advertiser under the hand of Richad S. Hunt had made great strides from its meager beginning as a little four column, less than informative journal. From one of the two extant copies at The Library of Congress we see a much more sophisticated publication.
This July 8, 1851 edition still used the same style of type for the masthead, but the information has now changed. R.S. Hunt is listed as "Editor and Proprietor." Charles DeMorse had sold his interest to Hunt in late 1849.
The paper now has a motto centering the masthead. As did the majority of newspaper mottos of the ninteenth century Hunt's banner was waving in the breeze of patriotism as he expressed something of his political philosophy, although this expression was not quite as pronounced as in other papers. Hunt proclaimed, "Union and Liberty, Now and Forever, One and Inseparable."
The look of the 1851 paper was also different and much improved. Again, however, there is no local news to be found on the front page. Most notably absent are the front page advertisements as in the 1849 editions.
The paper is also larger. It is now divided into five clean columns with each news item, except one, headed by a brief headline. The one exception is the reprint of a three paragraph anecdote credited to Yankee Blade. Near the end of the twentieth century this anecdote makes absolutely no sense. Perhaps it did on the frontier of 1851.
One interesting addition appears in the extreme left hand column, an almanac style section listing the phases of the moon, a calendar listing showing the day of the week and its corresponding date and the time of sunrise, sunset, and moon set. The inclusion of the time tables is interesting in light of the fact that watches and clocks were taxed in the Texas of the 1850's. A check of the tax records for that year show that there was a definite scarcity of timepieces within the county limits.
The interior pages, much like the front page, is composed basically from items copied from other publications. The variety and scope of these exchange papers might seem a bit unusual for practically the entire country is represented to some extent. One item was reprinted from The San Francisco Public Balance, one from the Corpus Christi Star, and one from The Winchester Virginian. Obviously newspapers, without any electronic means of obtaining information, were most dependent on the delivery of the mails in order to provide their readers with that range of information.
Still another news item was paraphrased from an article on the Washington Republic under the heading, The Washington Monument. The short article describes the progress in the construction of the monument on the green in the capitol city. The Board of Managers of the project had suggested through the media that collections be taken up "throughout the Union on the approaching anniversary of our national independence."
The article continues that the obelisk is now eighty-four feet from the surface, the cost thus far, including materials, workmanship, offices, workshops, machinery, etc. had been about $125,000. The estimated cost of completion was $552,000. The monument was not to be completed for another thirty-three years.
Since this item had suggested donations to the monument fund in connection with the approaching seventy-fifth anniversary of the country's independence, something must have moved Hunt to pen a special editorial. Short and to the point the editorial took to task the good citizens of Bonham for their failure to recognize or observe this special day in the country's history. According to Hunt "neither businesses were closed or flags unfurled in tribute to this grand occasion."
The other local news found in this edition was mainly reportings of the various courts, comments on the condition of the crops and potential harvest, and one or two items concerning the arrest of some minor criminal elements. Miller Dixon announced that he was opening a new tin shop in Bonham and Dr. E.S. Penwell advertised for his office on the southside of the square with his practice as physician, surgeon, and obstetrician.
Publication day of the paper had changed from its original Thursday evening to every Tuesday evening. Subscription cost was still $2.00 per year if paid in advance or $4.00 if paid at the expiration of the subscription.
The Advertiser was evidently still an important paper for the area. A list of the paper's agents and locations was given a prominent place. Subscribers could contact E.H. Dodd at Licke (Dodd City), B.S. Walcott in Honey Grove, J.C. Parrish at Warren, W.D. Fitch at Sherman, J.L. Lovejoy at McKinney, Robert Shaw at Greenville, and R.P. Murray at Preston.
As with many early day newspapermen, Hunt probably did not make a substantial living from his journalistic endeavor. As with others he plied a number of trades. For more than ten years he served as County Surveyor for Fannin County plus he maintained a law office and practice in Bonham. There is no indication in any of these newspapers that he had any help in the publication. Probably he had a printer or assistant but as was usual he was probably responsible for the writing, editing, lay-out, and type setting for each edition.
Perhaps he felt that he had stretched himself too thin, or perhaps he had a chance to realize something of a profit from his work for in late 1853 the paper was sold. In the November 5, 1853 edition of The Marshal Texas Republican was a notice that J.H. Moody and N.P. Clark had purchased the office of The Bonham Advertiser and changed the name to Western Star.
The change was short lived. Before the year was out the name changed was rescinded and Moody and Clark turned to Hunt for help and hired him as editor of the publication.
It is uncertain how long the publication actually continued. Evidence suggests that after Moody's death, probably in late 1853, the paper was sold to E.J. Foster who moved it first to Paris where he renamed it Frontier Patriot and then two years later he moved to Sherman publishing it as the Sherman Patriot.
There may have been one other attempt to rename the Advertiser. Two probate publications notices were submitted to the Fannin County Probate Court in 1853 from The Bonham Gazette, Clark and Moody, Publishers.