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Country: United States
State: South Carolina
City: Pickens, S.C.
Issues of this title available in Elephind: 420
Items (articles and/or pages) from this title available in Elephind: 1,755
Earliest Date: 12 March 1891
Latest Date: 9 April 1903
The Pickens Sentinel (1871-present) has served as the “newspaper of conscience” for the residents of rural Pickens County, located in the Upstate region of South Carolina, for nearly 150 years. The economy of Pickens County has historically been driven largely by agriculture, and the Pickens Sentinel has advocated for farmers’ interests in a number of ways, whether by supporting the establishment of the Clemson Agricultural College of South Carolina (now known as Clemson University) in 1889 or by covering the activities of the National Grange, Southern Farmers’ Alliance, and other organizations that sought to represent farmers.
The present-day Pickens Sentinel traces its origins to two 19th-century newspapers, the Pickens Sentinel and Easley Messenger. David Franklin Bradley and John R. Holcombe established the weekly Pickens Sentinel to general acclaim in July 1871. On August 3, 1871, the Anderson Intelligencer, published in nearby Anderson County, praised the Sentinel thusly: “Its editorials are pungent, lively and well-written, and manifest an earnest disposition to battle strongly for the interests of the state and section.” The Sentinel quickly established a reputation for dogged reliability. On March 6, 1873, when the publishers could not get access to newspaper stock, they printed the issue on notebook paper, observing that “a half loaf is better than no bread.”
Ambrose W. Hudgens and John Robinson Hagood established the weekly Easley Messenger in 1883. They chose as its slogan a quote by Scottish philosopher Sir William Hamilton: “Truth, like a torch, the more it’s shook, it shines.” Very little information exists about the Messenger. No issues are known to exist after 1884, but as late as 1890, the Geo. P. Rowell and Co.'s American Newspaper Directory recorded 700 subscribers. In 1891, the Pickens Publishing Company purchased the Messenger, moved it to Pickens, and renamed it the Pickens People’s Journal. For over ten years, the People’s Journal competed for patronage against the Pickens Sentinel, inspiring caustic volleys like “Do they ever read their proofs?” and “Is the Sentinel envious?”
In 1903, the People's Journal was merged with the Pickens Sentinel and renamed the Pickens Sentinel-Journal. In 1906, the paper was renamed the Sentinel-Journal. Three years later, its title reverted back to the Pickens Sentinel-Journal. In 1911, publisher James Lawrence Orr Thompson sold the newspaper, hinting that it had fallen on hard times. An anecdotal story, however, has offered an alternative explanation—that Thompson had castigated a school teacher in print for spanking his son, creating such a rift in the community that local businesses stopped supporting the Sentinel-Journal.
In 1912, Reverend David Weston Hiott acquired the newspaper, which by then had resumed its earlier name, the Pickens Sentinel. The Hiott family went on to publish the Sentinel for nearly a century, surviving at times by bartering eggs and firewood for subscriptions. As late as the 1990s, publisher Jerry Alexander was still honoring the lifetime subscription rate of $25.00, first offered in the early 20th century. Today, the Pickens Sentinel is recognized as the oldest continuously published newspaper in Pickens County.
Provided by: University of South Carolina; Columbia, SC