On March 26, 1937, the Coleman family started publication of the long-suspended Bulloch Herald. Leodel Coleman was the editor, G.C. Jr. was the associate editor, and Jim was the advertising director.
For their new paper’s motto, the Colemans chose: “By Bulloch County, for Bulloch County, and of Bulloch County.” The focus of the paper, they declared, would be all about life in Bulloch.
In order to achieve this goal, they enlisted the help of numerous local residents. Mrs. Earnest Brannen, president of the Statesboro Parent-Teacher Association, was given the task of coordinating local news from around the county.
Mrs. Brannen enlisted as her community reporters Mrs. John A. Robertson of Brooklet, Mrs. Harry Lee of Leefield, Mrs. McLean of Portal, Mrs. Walter MacDougald of Clito, and Miss Maude White and Mrs. Ethan D. Proctor of Nevils.
The first three issues of the paper were printed at the Swainsboro Forest Blade, and the fourth was printed by the Vidalia Advance. Starting with a run of 5,000 copies, the paper was filled with ads from local merchants hawking their wares.
In the May 7, 1937, issue, the Herald announced its first-ever subscription “election” contest.
In order to participate, people had to clip the free coupon in the newspaper, fill it out, and drop it by or mail it to the Herald office.
In the same newspaper from which they clipped the enrollment coupon, there was a coupon for 5,000 “votes,” which would start them on their way to winning the competition.
Each one-year subscription ($1.50) would win the contestant 10,000 votes, while every six-year subscription ($9) earned the participant a total of 125,000 votes.
The grand prize for the person selling the most subscriptions, thereby earning the most votes, would win their choice of either a brand-new 1937 two-door model Ford or Chevy.
The judges were Rev. C.M. Coalson, A.M. Braswell, J.O. and George M. Johnston, and H.L. Kennon.
When the contest ended on July 9, the grand-prize winner with the highest number of votes was determined to be Geraldine Rushing, while second, third and fourth places went to Billy Hagin, Mrs. T.C. Purvis and Miss Maude White.
In 1939, the Colemans bought the Banner Publishing Company and moved the newspaper to the Banner building in Statesboro. In 1940, the Bulloch Herald won five Georgia Press Association awards, as well as the Hal M. Stanley Trophy for typographical perfection. In 1941, it won four GPA awards and the H.H. Dean Trophy for best editorial in the state.
On June 1941, Jim Coleman, the paper’s advertising director, was called into active service from the U.S. Army Reserves, and G.C. Coleman Jr., the paper’s associate editor, became a member of the Parachute Troops on May 4, 1942, leaving Leodel Coleman in charge of the paper.
On May 8, Leodel was notified by the draft office that his call was near, so he volunteered for the Air Corps, passing his preliminary physical on May 16. He became a famous war correspondent during World War II with the U.S. Marines in the Pacific Theater.
In its May 28, 1942, issue, the Bulloch Herald announced that it was closing its operations and would suspend publication following the enlistment of the last of its executive managers.
The headline stated, “This is the last edition of the Bulloch Herald until the war is won.” Across the nation, this action earned the Herald the sobriquet of “The Newspaper That Went to War.”
The paper didn’t resume publication until its Jan. 31, 1946, edition, in which it promptly assumed a major role in discussing the race for the Georgia governorship races of 1946, when it supported James V. Carmichael, and then again in 1948, when it supported Melvin E. Thompson. In fact, James F. Coleman served as the advertising and public relations advisor to Thompson in his gubernatorial candidacy. He died in an automobile accident while returning to Statesboro from a Thompson rally in Dublin, Ga., on Aug. 10, 1948.
In 1957, the Bulloch Herald was merged with the Bulloch Times, which was owned by J. Shields Kenan. In 1970, the newspaper once again was renamed, this time as the Statesboro Herald, and began a five-days-per-week publication. The paper was sold to newspaper magnate Charles Morris in 1971.
Roger Allen is a local lover of history. He provides a brief look at the area's historical past. Email Roger at firstname.lastname@example.org.