The Lancaster News celebrated its sesquicentennial in 2003. Here is a brief look at the paper’s 154-year history:
First paper printed in 1852
Lancaster’s first newspaper, The Lancaster Ledger, forerunner of The Lancaster News, was started in 1852 by R.S. Bailey, who opened his business in a shop on the corner of Gay and Main streets.
At the time, Lancaster had a population of 207. From one end of town to the other, the distance was exactly one mile. After a steady rain, Main Street became impassable and was dubbed “Mud Street” by local residents.
Downtown contained nine dry good stores, two shoe shops, three grocery stores, a harness maker, two tailor shops and several blacksmiths – enough advertising revenue to support the weekly newspaper. The first subscriptions for The Lancaster Ledger were taken at the Old Salem Campground.
Bailey’s seven-column, four-page paper contained a combination of news and advertising. Some of the early publications included poetry, short stories and humorous sayings. Also included was a list of people who had paid subscriptions, advertisements for blacksmiths and corn meal and notices for cattle owners, who wanted people to pay for beef they had bought.
Competition tough for three papers
In 1878, B.F. Welsh and J.J. Hull founded another Lancaster paper, The Lancaster Review. They sold it to Paul Moore in 1881. He kept it for three years and then sold it to C.T. Connors, who along with Major Riddle, operated it until 1905.
In 1891, Lancaster’s third newspaper, The Lancaster Enterprise, was founded. A.J. Clark was the only editor during the Enterprise’s 15 years. It was a weekly paper, except during the Spanish-American War when it was published twice a week.
The three newspapers soon found it difficult competing for the same advertising. And the consensus was it might be better financially if the three combined. As The Yorkville Enquirer, a York newspaper, commented, “One good newspaper would be of more value than three sorry ones.”
With a $10,000 investment, the three papers – The Lancaster Ledger, The Lancaster Review and The Lancaster Enterprise – merged to form The Lancaster News in 1905. It was controlled by the Lancaster Publishing Co.
Colonel buys paper
In 1947, Tri-County Publishing Co., founded by the late Col. Elliott W. Springs, president of Springs Cotton Mill, bought the paper. Two months later, it bought The Chester Reporter, which later merged with The Chester News.
In 1948, Thomas Morrell became editor of The Lancaster News, a post he held until 1951. Warren Koon was editor until 1952, when Julian S. Starr Jr. became editor and publisher, posts he held until 1971, when Paul League succeeded him. In 1951, Hugh White became president of Tri-County Publishing Co, followed by James Bradley.
On Feb. 24, 1989, Tri-County Publishing Co. sold both The Lancaster News and The News & Reporter to Landmark Community Newspapers Inc., a division of Landmark.
Richard Gannaway was publisher from 1977 to 1990, when Van King became publisher and general manager of The Lancaster News and The News & Reporter. David Ernest became publisher in 1992. Susan Rowell was named publisher in 2002.
In 2004, The Lancaster News upgraded its 31-year-old press, adding a new two-high unit to give the press better color printing capabilities. It also started Carolina Gateway, a free weekly paper that covers the Indian Land area.
In July 2005, Landmark bought The Pageland Progressive Journal, giving it four newspapers in South Carolina.
In June, 2020, Paxton Media Group purchased the newspapers.