Lansden family celebrates
70th year of publishing paper
This month (October, 2014) marks the 70th anniversary Willis and Merlee Phelps Lansden took a "leap of faith" and bought the newspaper, The Herald-Democrat, from H. H. Hubbart in 1944.
At that time, the newspaper plant was located on Second Street where the Senior Citizens building is now. It moved to its present location on Douglas Street in March, 1966.
The newspaper has run continuously since the summer of 1887. The Territorial Advocate only published three or four issues before selling to George Payne. It was then sold to a J. C. Hodge, who changed the name of the paper of The Beaver Advocate.
It changed ownership and names until 1896 when it was under the banner of The Beaver Herald. The publisher added Miss Maude O. Thomas to his staff as associate editor, August 9, 1900. Miss Thomas took over ownership in 1902.
The Beaver County Democrat was established by W. B. Newman in 1906. Several years later, the new owner L. B. Tooker consolidated the newspaper with a number of papers throughout the county, which included The Forgan Enterprise, The LaKemp Mirror, the Ivanhoe News, The Beaver County Republican and The Farmer’s News (Knowles).
It was then called The Democrat. The Gate Valley Star was later taken over by the Democrat in 1922. It was owned by A. W. Cox and A. L. Kimball by that time. In early editions there were word fights between the Beaver Herald by Miss Thomas and The Democrat by Mr. Kimball. The name calling wasn’t too bad by today’s standards, nevertheless, it was probably interesting for the subscribers.
August 1, 1923 marked the purchase of the Beaver Herald from Maude O. Thomas by A. L. Kimball, to form the present Herald-Democrat with Kimball serving as editor and publisher. The Forgan Eagle was consolidated with The Herald-Democrat, February 1, 1927. The Herald-Democrat again changed ownership on May 16, 1938, when it was purchased by H. H. Hubbart.
In October, 1944, the late Willis and Merlee Phelps Lansden bought the newspaper. During these many years, the family has seen many changes in the publishing business, going from hand set type and printing the newspaper in-house to sending the pages to be printed to the printers via computer.
As World War II was still on-going in 1944, Willis was basically putting out each week’s edition single-handedly. He had an army cot set up in the supply room so he could get a few hours sleep before getting up and going back to work. He did have a linotype operator at that time...the only problem was that usually on Monday mornings Willis would have to go bail the man out of jail after a weekend of carousing.
The pages would be made up by hand then carried to the printer. The blank newsprint would be fed into the machine one page at a time, which would print four pages. Then the large pages would be flipped over and print four more pages on the other side. The pages would go through a folder and ready for addressing to the subscribers. It was a tedious project to publish a newspaper back in the day, but Willis loved every moment of it. (Maybe not so much when a paper would jam in the folder!)
The Herald-Democrat received state-wide recognition when, in 1963, Willis was selected to serve on the Oklahoma Press Association Board of Directors. He served as president of the association in 1969 and remained on the board in an advisory capacity until July of 1970.
He also was appointed to the Oklahoma Wildlife Commission by Gov. David Hall, where he also served as the chairman in 1974-75. Willis was instrumental in getting quail and pheasants back in Beaver County at that time.
He and his wife served the community and state faithfully and with distinction until their deaths in 1985 and 1986. Then their children, Joe, Cheley and Kathal took over the publication of the newspaper. In 1996, Cheley and Kathal sold their interest in the business to their brother, Joe and nephew, Brent, who have been serving this community since that time.
Throughout the years, many folks have been worked at the newspaper helping to get the editions out each week, including three more generations of Lansdens. That’s 3,640 issues mailed throughout the United States to thousands of subscribers each week.
We are grateful to each and every one of our loyal friends and advertisers.