The Greenwood Democrat has been serving South Sebastian County for more than 125 years.
The Greenwood Democrat is a community minded newspaper. We take tremendous pride in the people that make this such a great place to live, work and raise families.
The Greenwood Democrat is a consistent, accurate source for news about local people, government, crime, schools, sports, churches and society.
The Greenwood Democrat is the weekly source for local real estate information, job listings and items for sale.
The following history of the Greenwood Democrat includes information from a report by Jackie Holt and from the history of Greenwood written by Means Wilkinson in 1961.
Feb. 8, 2005, the Greenwood Democrat began its 125th year of publication...making the Democrat the oldest newspaper in Sebastian County.
A rapidly expanding base and the continued growth of the area are challenges for any newspaper, but the Democrat staff continues to work hard to bring its readers the local news, features and sports information from the area.
The Greenwood Democrat was far from the first paper in the city, but it has been the most successful and most enduring.
Greenwood's first newspaper, The Argus, was established in 1872 by W.T. Powell who had come from Fort Smith. While in Fort Smith he was at one time connected with The New Era as a reporter.
According to the book, "History of Arkansas Press for a Hundred Years and More" by F.W. Allsopp, Powell's career was unsuccessful at Greenwood, even though he was energetic and wrote a lot. A few years afterward he went to Memphis where he died from yellow fever.
Powell sold the Greenwood Argus in 1873 to J.H. McClure & Co., who, with George W. Rice and P.H. Rice, changed the name to The Standard.
McClure was sheriff at the time. The Rices were lawyers and real estate dealers. McClure furnished the means while the Rices were editors. They published The Standard for about a year, then sold it to Allison A. Meadier.
Meadier soon moved to Waldron with the press and Greenwood was without a paper until the latter part of 1881 when W.W. Woods began publishing The Western World. The paper did not meet the success he had anticipate, and Woods sold the paper to Leake and Lyles.
Leake and Lyles ran it until April 13,1882, when it was destroyed by a fire. The fire burned the building that had been used as a courthouse since the burning of the former courthouse the year before.
Leake then started The Plain Dealer. He soon sold it to Reece and Embry. The new owners changed its name to The Greenwood Times. J.F. Embry was the editor of the paper while his uncle financed the paper. They conducted the paper for three years.
The Greenwood Times also proved less successful than its owners had hoped. Embry sold the paper to the Hon. R.W. McFarlane after a failed attempt to secure the appointment of the postmaster of the town in 1885. In 1886, McFarlane sold the paper to H.T. Hampton. On Jan. 1, 1887, Hampton changed the name to the Greenwood Democrat. In September, he sold a half interest to Jesse A. Bell. The paper they published was a seven-column folio. In 1890, C.E. Cruce bought Hampton's interest.
In the meantime, S.T. and R.A. Rowe had established The Western Eagle, with a Methodist clergyman and J.W. Head, as editor. Head remained for some time then gave way to M. Stroup. The Eagle also proved to be a losing venture.
Rowe sold The Eagle to H.T. Hampton, who moved its plant to Altus, then to Booneville. At Booneville, he established the Booneville Democrat. In 1895 he sold it to J.W. Quinn. Quinn published the paper until 1899, then sold it to P.M Clouts and J.L. Campbell. In 1907, it was sold to Leon Westmoreland, who in 1910 gave way to M.A. Dodd. Dodd was preceded by Bob White, editor; Henry Gaines as foreman. T.M. Phllips controlled the paper until 1912. Phillips sold the plant to a company that merged it with The Bulletin. The Bulletin was published by R.A. Skinner, who then changed the name to X-Ray Bulletin.
L. M. Redwine and Rice Gaines established the Greenwood Register, in May 1911. A few months later, Redwine purchased Gaines' interest. Redwine then leased the paper to Ray Wood, who later returned it to Redwine. After more changes in ownership, the paper was purchased by C.E. Gray. On Jan. 1, 1915, he changed the name to the Greenwood Democrat. Robert W. Meriwether adds that a previous Greenwood Democrat had been established in 1882 as the Plain Dealer. Walter Gray became a partner and then sole owner. Gray sold the Democrat to J.T. Spears and J.G. Whitten, who operated it until the early 1920s.
Harry N. Brandell edited and published the Greenwood Democrat from 1928 to 1933. He was succeeded by Means Wilkinson. In 1935, Earl Dodd became the editor for Wilkinson and continued to operate the paper for 36 years until his retirement in December 1971.
Dodd and his partner and wife, Jerry, talked to Jackie Holt about managing a newspaper from 1935 to 1971.
"We did everything then," Earl Dodd said. "Sometimes we would work all night," . Jerry Dodd said. "Our daughter would fall asleep on the newsprint."
"In 1936, Earl Dodd traveled on dirt roads to Hot Springs to take a picture of Franklin Roosevelt. "I hollered at him, ' Hey, Mr. President' and took his picture, Dodd said.
The Greenwood Democrat survived World War II despite the loss of many employees to the war effort. "All the boys who worked for us went to war." Jerry said. Earl and Jerry, along with high school graduate Betty Moore, who later became Betty Mayo, had to learn the whole operation. They used a Hopp metal linotype and the paper came out on Thursdays. The linotype machines of the past required printers to put all the words on a machine backwards so the image on the paper would come out correctly.
After the war, the men came back home (the main linotype operators and main press operators, etc.). Earl and Jerry sent a free paper subscription to any individual who went to war. They won an award from the Veterans of Foreign Wars for supporting the servicemen. Also during the war, Earl took his first jeep ride through Camp Chaffee.
In 1953, the Greenwood Democrat was located on the east side of the square. A theater was on one side of the paper. A fire started in the theater which spread and destroyed the paper. "We lost everything," Earl Dodd said. "Cameras, a brand new Kluge press, a Babcock press and the darkroom. Everything." But the paper continued. The Dodds then began printing the paper in Paris. "Earl would make up all the ads and the copy. He would go to Paris and bring the paper back," Jerry Dodd said.
"We thought it would be cheaper than buying new equipment," Earl Dodd said.
The next great disaster was the Greenwood tornado of April 19, 1968. "Jerry had locked up 15 minutes before it hit, so we weren't in it," Earl Dodd recalled.
The Greenwood Democrat had news from every little community surrounding Greenwood. The reporters-correspondents would receive a free subscription. "We knew everybody back then," Earl said.
The Dodds believe the newspaper was more important before television. "We weren't concerned with making money then," Earl Dodd said. "The paper had more influence back then."
The paper subscription rate was $1.50 in the county and $3 outside the county and usually ran 10-12 pages with about 3,000 subscribers.
Earl Dodd retired Dec. 1, 1971, and Mayor Ed Hall proclaimed Nov. 25, 1971, as "Earl Dodd Day," in recognition of his services to the city of Greenwood.
In June 1997, the Greenwood Democrat was bought by a group of Ohio investors who acquired 50 newspapers and shoppers in the transaction. The new group was formed by Richard M. Franks and Robert R. McMaster and a group of Columbus, Ohio, based investors led by BancOpen Capital Partners, L.P. The new company was called Westward Communications LLC.
In March of 2000 the paper was purchased by The Donrey Media Group, parent company of the Times Record. Donrey is privately held communications company consisting of newspapers, outdoor advertising companies, and a television station, operating from Hawaii to North Carolina and from Washington State to Texas. Each Donrey company is locally managed and operated.
The Donrey Media Group was founded in 1940 as the result of the personal initiative and determination of the company's founder, Donald W. Reynolds. Mr. Reynolds died in 1993 at the age of 86. Later, Donrey was sold to the Stephens Media Group of Little Rock, Ark. Jack Stephens had been a lifelong friend of Mr. Reynolds.
The Democrat is a member of the Arkansas Press Association and enters the Better Newspaper Contest in advertising and editorial each year where it is recognized with awards for advertising and editorial content.
The papers continues to serve the community of Greenwood with news about city government, schools, and people. The Democrat reaches more homes in Greenwood than any other paper in the county and averages 12-20 pages of local news, photos and advertising in each weekly issue.
The Greenwood Democrat remains one of the oldest continuously publishing papers in the state.