Fannin County Museum of History
One Main Street, Bonham, Texas
No News Was Not Good News
Bonham Daily Record, November 13, 1994
Despite the seemingly apparent success Richard Hunt had with The Bonham Advertiser, both as publisher and editor, his successor in the ownership of the paper, E.J. Foster decided to look for a more agreeable and expandable market. In last week's column it was noted that the exact date that Foster shut down operations in Bonham was unknown, some additional sources indicate that the move may have occurred in the Spring of 1856 ending the thus far longest lived journalistic effort in Fannin County.
Foster had been a long time Whig supporter but sometime in the 1850's espoused the cause of the Know Nothing Party and its Texas champion Sam Houston much as had his predecessor, Richard Hunt. Shutting down the presses in Bonham, Foster moved the entire operation to Paris in 1856 but now stylized the publication The Frontier Patriot.
For two years Foster continued to support the principles of the Known Nothings but evidently failed to garner enough support financial and otherwise. He faced strong competition from a strongly Democratic paper The Lamar Inquirer published by Terrill and Peterson and edited by John T. Mills.
Once again Foster shut down operations and moved on.
In July of 1858 The Texas State Gazette mentions publication of The Sherman Patriot under the ownership of E.J. Foster. Foster continuing his strong support of the Know Nothing Party found some measure of success among the citizens of Sherman and even more with his strong support of the Union in 1860 when the cry arose for secession. Foster continued pubication until he was killed in 1862.
Once Foster removed The Bonham Advertiser to Paris, Bonham and Fannin County were without a locally owned and printed paper until Spring of 1858. In all probability DeMorse's The Northern Standard took up some of the slack as it had in the early days of the 1840's and as it continued to serve as something of a regional publication for the Red River Valley.
Some Fannin County citizens did avail themselves of the services of Foster's Frontier Patriot for again we find publication notices for the probating of Fannin County estates being published in this paper. The Lamar Enquirer was possibly another paper that served Fannin County. In 1859 this paper came under the ownership of B. Ober who was later to make a contribution to Fannin County journalism.
Neither Greenville nor McKinney appear to have had newspapers until 1859 or 1860. Not until Foster's removal of the Patriot to Sherman in 1858 was anything being published in Grayson County. For at least two years then, newspaper readers of Fannin County most generally suffered from a lack of adequate information to be obtained from the pages of the local journal.
It was far from being a rarity for a frontier newspaperman to be physically attacked by a reader who had reasons for violently disagreeing with something published in the local paper or for dissatisfaction with a editor's philosophy in general. The history of journalism is full of stories of physical beatings received by editors at the hands of their enemies; one favorite form of attack was the use of the walking stick or cane which could be used with minimal damage being suffered by the attacker. Too often these confrontations ended with the death of the newspaper representative or sometimes with the death of both parties
After being without a local news organization for nearly two years, the citizens of Fannin County were heartened in April of 1858 to learn that a young newsman was moving his family, along with all the equipment necessary for the resumption of a journalistic effort, to Bonham.
John M. Crane printed his first issue of The Bonham Independent sometime in the month of April. Location of the Independent offices are unknown. Crane may have taken over the quarters that had housed The Bonham Advertiser, but even this location is uncertain. Richard Hunt had acquired several lots around the Bonham square and probably one of these provided the location for the Advertiser's offices.
Crane himself is a mystery. Research has failed to disclose anything about his origins, little on his family, and nothing about his journalistic experience before setting up shop in Bonham. What we can determine, however, is something of his political philosophy. There are no know copies of The Bonham Independent. All we have are several articles written and printed by Crane, in the Spring of 1859, which were copied in toto by other publications, notably The Northern Standard and The Central Advocate published in St. Louis.
Crane had hardly established himself when he seemed to be in the forefront of several Texas editors who were convinced that a series of incidents throughout North Texas heralded the possibility of a slave revolt throughout the countryside.
These incidents were described in detail in this column in May of 1993. Without any attempt to restate all the previously printed information only a short precis of Crane's involvement is offered here for clarification.
In March of 1859 a convocation of representatives of the Methodist Episcopal Church met at Timber Creek Church just a few miles north of Bonham. When their presence was discovered a large contingent of Bonham and Fannin County citizens became convinced that the ministers' meeting in convocation were nothing more than abolitionists who had been sent to Fannin County to stir up trouble among the slave population.
A number of meetings were held at the Fannin County Courthouse, in Bonham, to determine how to deal with this perceived threat. Leading citizens were elected to parliamentary positions within the group, chairman, secretary, and committee chairmen, for example.
At each of the meetings the oratory was fiery with one speaker after another denouncing the supposed abolitionists and presenting a long list of grievances against the representatives of the Methodist Church, from northern states, and citing a litany of occurrences proving the suspicions of abolitionist activities.
John Crane not only was asked to print in his paper the resolutions and actions advocated by the participants of these courthouse meetings, but he in turn was author of several of the resolutions to be voted on.
Not only did Crane publish the requested material but he offered in support a number of editorial comments.