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Bulloch History with Roger Allen

Start of papers in Ga., Bulloch

    For the early riser in 18th Century Georgia, a newspaper was something to be treasured, and reread many times, before letting someone else take it from your home.
    The very first known “newspaper” in Georgia was the Georgia Gazette, published by James Johnston in his Broughton Street office in Savannah, which began publication on April 7, 1763. As Johnston had supported the British during the American Revolution, he was arrested and his office seized, with William Lancaster and then Edward Welch taking over publication of the paper.
    On January 21, 1779, the Royal Georgia Gazette began publication, edited by John Daniel Hammerer. James Johnston returned to Savannah, took over the Royal Gazette in 1779, and then renamed it the Gazetteer of the State of Georgia on January 14, 1783. The next paper to start up was the Georgia Journal and Independent Register, published by James Carey, that was published from 1783-1794.
    In 1796, the Columbia Museum and Savannah Advertiser began publication, and by 1800, there were five newspapers in the state of Georgia, two of which were in Savannah: The Savannah Republican; and The Columbia Museum and Savannah Advertiser. It wouldn’t be for another 77 years that Bulloch County could claim to have its own newspaper.
    Shortly after the Reverend Washington L. Geiger opened Excelsior Academy (also known as the Excelsior High School), he was given a printing press by Jimerson Kennedy, so that he might begin a publication at Excelsior. He named it, not surprisingly, The Excelsior News. In 1881, F.M. Ingram, then current Superintendent of Excelsior Academy, took over the paper, apparently changing it’s name to The Bulloch Banner.
    Not to be outdone by his friend, the Reverend W.M. Cowart, the first pastor of the First Baptist Church of Statesboro, along with Colonel John F. Stone, opened Statesboro’s first newspaper, the Statesboro Eagle. Shortly thereafter, they sold the paper to T.L. Griner, who moved it to Excelsior. In 1887, H.A. Smith and George Clarke, owners of Banner Publishing Company in Statesboro, started another newspaper called The Bulloch Banner.
Their paper’s office was, at least for a time, on the second floor of the Bulloch County Courthouse. In 1889, the Banner was sold to J.A. Brannen, then the associate editor of the Swainsboro Forest Blade. He renamed the paper The Statesboro Eagle.
    By 1892, Brannen had sold the Eagle to the members of the local Populist Party, who began publication of their political organ, now named The Georgia Farmer. At the same time, the Reverends W.J. Geiger and J.A. Scarborough had started another paper, named The Pioneer and Eagle. Within a very short time, the Pioneer and Eagle was also merged into the Georgia Farmer.
    After the local members of the Democratic Party were forced out of the Georgia Farmer by its Populist Party management, they started their own paper, The Bulloch Times. Colonel Greene S. Johnston and James R. Miller were the editors at first. Soon, Miller was replaced by Col. George Williams, who in turn was replaced by Felden Myers, who was replaced by George Clarke as editor.
    In 1893, James Miller bought The Bulloch Times. Miller then bought the old printing press of The Highland Star of Highland, North Carolina, which he then moved to Statesboro. Several months later, the A.C. & D.B. Turner bought the Bulloch Times from Miller. Miller two months later started The Statesboro Star.  
Roger Allen is a local lover of history. Allen provides a look at Bulloch's past. E-mail Roger at rogerdodger53@hotmail.com.

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