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Publication Details

The Sweetwater forerunner.

More information about this newspaper title may be available on the source website.

Source: Chronicling America [US Library of Congress]

Country: United States

State: Tennessee

City: Sweetwater, Tenn.

Issues of this title available in Elephind: 34

Items (articles and/or pages) from this title available in Elephind: 136

Earliest Date: 13 March 1868

Latest Date: 18 March 1869


The Sweetwater forerunner and The Sweetwater enterprise

Sweetwater’s first newspaper, the Sweetwater Forerunner was established in September 1867 by Hugh L. Fry, a Monroe County native and Confederate veteran. In the March 13, 1868 issue, Fry wrote that the four-page weekly was “not intended to be either of a political or partisan character.” He promised that the Forerunner would focus on matters of local interest and would not permit slanderous columns. However, in May of that year, when printer Charles M. Fisher became joint publisher of the paper, it took a more partisan tone. The Forerunner became a Democratic-leaning paper and began to boorishly denounce Radicalism. Fisher’s name disappeared from the masthead for a few weeks at the end of 1868; then, in December 1868, he was credited as sole proprietor. Fisher’s proprietorship of the paper was short-lived. In his History of the Sweetwater Valley, William B. Lenoir described Fisher as “the best all around newspaper man, the finest flute player and the most accomplished ‘boozefighter’ who ever lived in town.” The latter apparently contributed to Fisher’s downfall at the Forerunner. By February 25, 1869, Fry’s name alone appeared on the paper’s masthead. Fry’s article in that issue alluded to Fisher’s unreliability, and an apology was made for the “irregularity of the Forerunner” over the preceding weeks. Two weeks later, C.B. Woodward took over as the newspaper’s proprietor. Woodward also issued an apology about Fisher’s conduct and made it clear to subscribers and advertisers that he was not responsible for any contracts Fisher had made.

In September 1869, Woodward changed the paper’s name to the Sweetwater Enterprise; it remained a Democratic weekly. Like other era penny press papers, the Enterprise contained stories related to domestic and international politics. Much of the content, however, was sensational, focusing on topics such as adultery. Advertisements in the paper promoted products ranging from household items to “medicinal” liquids claiming to cure everything from asthma to “female complaint.” 

Like many of its competitors, the Sweetwater Enterprise suffered from financial difficulties. “Pay the Printer,” a front-page article published on December 16, 1869, provides evidence of the ailing health of the Enterprise’s coffers. In the piece, Woodward issued a plea for new subscriptions and encouraged “hundreds” of existing subscribers to pay late balances. To offset printing costs, Woodward even used the print shop as a boarding house.

Woodward published the Enterprise until early 1876 when Joe Ivins became editor and publisher through the fall of that year.  After the November 1876 presidential election, the publication of the paper was suspended. Nathaniel Pope Hight and Richard Francis Scruggs, two prominent Sweetwater citizens and owners of the town’s general store, acquired the title and the printing outfit, but were immediately plagued with financial difficulties and sold the Enterprise to Joseph H. Bean of Knoxville in December 1876. Bean promptly changed the newspaper’s name to the Monroe Democrat, and it remained in circulation until 1890. 

Provided by: University of Tennessee