The Edmond Sun

May 7, 2007

The History of The Edmond Sun

James Coburn
The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — The Edmond Sun has helped provide a sense of place for Edmondites since it premiered as a small weekly in Oklahoma Territory on a hot July 18, 1889, day, in what was known then as a train refueling town.

Today, many of Edmond’s sprawling population of more than 80,000 residents connect with their community by subscribing to The Edmond Sun.

Oklahoma’s oldest continuously published newspaper is the hometown voice of Edmond during its territorial days, wars, dust bowls and the Great Depression. It has served Edmond through joy and despair, through drought, tornadoes and prosperity.

Almost 125 years of publication has witnessed Edmond Public Schools grow from the seeds of the Territorial School House to one of the best educational systems in the United States. The Edmond Sun saw the Territorial Normal School evolve into a vibrant University of Central Oklahoma.

Following the great Land Run of 1889, many early day community leaders in Edmond’s history took part in the establishment of Edmond’s history through present day. By telling their stories through the decades, The Edmond Sun has given the community a sense of place amid the backdrop of a sprawling metroplex.

On a hot July 18, 1889, The Edmond Sun premiered as a small four-page weekly in what was then a train refueling town.

Milton “Kicking Bird” Reynolds’ legacy as founder of The Edmond Sun secured more than a century of local news. Though Reynolds died in 1890, his community vision swept across the 20th Century to succeed the new millennium. Countless generations of residents have placed in scrapbooks cut-out articles about family life and impacting news events — all because Reynolds brought his manual printing press, typewriter and determination from Kansas to Edmond in 1889.

“I arrived in Oklahoma and at once began a diligent search for suitable locations for friends ... but Edmond is unquestionably the center of the garden spot of Oklahoma,” he wrote in one of his first issues.

“This is the first issue of The Edmond Sun in the beautiful land,” Reynolds wrote. “It is here to stay and lay the foundations of a growing city and prosperous trade center. The country is here. The people are here to lay the foundations and start right. We commence with schools and churches, temperance and sobriety, enterprise and thrift. The recognition of these factors and a unity of purpose on the part of our people cannot fail to build a prosperous city.

“God made the country. Man makes the towns. This city will be what the people will it to be. If there be an intelligent, liberal, progressive spirit and a untied purpose, we shall build up one of the great cities in Oklahoma. There is not doubt of this. We have the location and the surrounding. Edmond is growing and will continue to grow. It is the center of a splendid agricultural country. Here are fine fields. Fruits of all kinds will do well here.”

The newspaper’s first location was in a small wooden-frame building at 109 N. Broadway. It was later moved to the back of the former Citizens National Bank on the southeast corner of Broadway and First Street, where it remained until 1948.

Reynolds’ first readers were mostly cowboys, farmers, American Indians and land entrepreneurs. Certainly, his actions helped motivate many to become literate and invest in Edmond’s future as the circulation of The Edmond Sun reached 515 subscriptions.

The Edmond Sun now shines on our table. It has come to drive the darkness from our neighboring city,” noted the Oklahoma City Times, which is today’s The Oklahoman.

Reynolds wrote editorials urging citizens to raise money for the first school house in Oklahoma Territory. And he lobbied for a bill to locate what would become the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond.

The Sun is not here to boon any man or party but to make Edmond a power in territorial and state conventions,” Reynolds wrote in the premiere issue. “We give notice in advance that Edmond will demand her share of the good things that are to fall to Oklahoma in the way of federal, territorial or state patronage. In the election of capitals, state institutions, state officers, in all these Edmond will be counted in asking for nothing but what is fairly due her.”

He died Aug. 9, 1890, a year after founding The Edmond Sun. His body rests in a modest grave at Grace Lawn Cemetery. He passed away only four days after being elected to the Territorial Legislature. He had collapsed on election day and would never learn of his victory.

In 1890, the subscription price was $1.50 per year or 75 cents for six months. Anton Classen purchased the newspaper from the Reynolds estate and became editor and publisher of The Sun for two years.

Early photographs of central Edmond show the city was built on a sea of prairie land with few trees dotting the landscape. Classen wrote an editorial urging Edmond residents to nurture greenery by landscaping streets and sidewalks with trees and shrubs.

“Many of the citizens of Edmond will soon plant trees and in planting they should bear in mind that there is an ordinance regulating tree planting on the different streets,” Classen wrote in a Sun editorial published Sept. 5, 1890. “On Main and Broad streets the tree must be planted 12 feet for the line of the lot an on all other streets, ten feet. All should conform to these regulations in order to save trouble. Plant good trees and plant them in a straight line so as to assist in beautifying the town as much as you possibly can.”

He moved to Oklahoma City when he was appointed receiver of the Government Land Office during the administration of President McKinley in 1897.

From 1892 to 1905, The Edmond Sun was owned respectively by J.E. Quein, J.J. Kerwin and W.A. Thomas; L.K. Rothman, two men named, Blake and Jayne, and Mrs. C.B. Blake.

Quein wrote in his first issue, “Our motto will be ‘Talk for Home, Work for Home, and Fight for Home,’ while our aim shall be to obey the law, uphold the Republican party and make a little money.”

Mrs. Blake was apparently making enough money with advertising because she removed advertising from the newspaper’s front page.

Readers in 1893 read about the activities of Belle Starr’s gang of “outlaws and renegades.” Closer to home, the June 22, 1893, paper reported when the first diplomas in Oklahoma Territory were given to the graduates of Edmond High School.

In 1905, Albert Dailey became editor/publisher of The Edmond Sun as the circulation surpassed the 1,000 mark. A civic minded crusader, Dailey brought stability as publisher for 32 prosperous years with a circulation of 1,100. Dailey wrote editorials supporting a bond issue to build a new Edmond High School and supported Edmond’s change to a city council, city manager type government.

After Dailey’s death in 1937, his widow assumed the role as editor even though she once said, “Journalism is the least part of running a newspaper.” Winifred Dailey chose her son, Nelson McGowan, as advertising manager. She later relinquished full control of the newspaper to McGowan, who moved the paper to 19 E. First St.

The Edmond Sun continued to report 20th century civic news, education, births, marriages and stories of every day life. And it saw Edmond experience the dawn of a new millennium after having touched upon three centuries.

The following is a chronology of events that follow The Edmond Sun to what it is today:

1957: The Edmond Sun is sold to Frank Dobyns, owner of The Edmond Booster.

1965: Ed Livermore Sr. and Dave Sclair purchase The Edmond Booster.

1970: Ed Livermore Jr. join The Edmond Booster, entering partnership with his father. Sclair sells his interest.

1976: The Edmond Booster is renamed The Edmond Evening Sun and becomes a daily newspaper.

1984: The Edmond Evening Sun introduces art color separation in its press capabilities. The newspaper’s circulation tops 10,000.

1988: Associated Press honors The Edmond Evening Sun with its Sweepstakes award, in features.

1991: The Edmond Evening Sun is awarded “Photo of the Year” by the Oklahoma Press Association.

1993: Associated Press honors The Edmond Evening Sun with its Sweepstakes award, in general news reporting.

1995: The Oklahoma Press Association honors The Edmond Evening Sun with the Sequoyah award.

1995: The Edmond Evening Sun publishes the nation’s first photos of the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. Nineteen Edmond residents died in the blast detonated by Timothy McVeigh. The bombing of the federal building also prompted The Sun to launch its first website in order to more widely share photos and information with those nationally and internationally. The site was launched by employee John T. Beresford, who was employed as a photographer by the newspaper at that time.

1998: The Edmond Evening Sun changes its name to The Edmond Sun.

1999: Community Newspaper Holdings Inc. (CNHI) purchases The Edmond Sun.

2000: Associated Press honors The Edmond Sun with its Sweepstakes award in public service reporting.

2001: Associated Press honors The Edmond Sun with its Sweepstakes award in public service reporting.

2002: The Oklahoma Press Association honors The Edmond Sun with the Sequoyah award.

2003: The Oklahoma Press Association honors The Edmond Sun with the Sequoyah award.

2005: The Edmond Sun is awarded “Photo of the Year” by the Oklahoma Press Association.

2005: Associated Press honors The Edmond Sun with its Sweepstakes award in photography.

2006: The Edmond Sun becomes a morning newspaper.

2006: Edmond residents donated more than $174,000 to The Edmond Sun’s annual Samaritan Fund Drive benefiting HOPE Center.

2006: Associated Press honors The Edmond Sun with its Sweepstakes award in photography.

2007: CNHI chooses Rick Barnes as publisher of The Edmond Sun.

2008: The Sun begins using the U.S. Postal Service for distribution of all its products, thus ending newspaper carrier delivery.

2008: CNHI names Steve Paterson as publisher of The Edmond Sun in August.

2009: The Sun introduces a monthly business magazine, The Business Times of Edmond. This magazine is direct-mailed to a majority of brick-and-mortar business address within the Edmond city limits. The Sun also creates a social media presence on Facebook and Twitter.

2010: In February, The Sun becomes one of the first hybrid newspapers moving to a two-day print cycle on Tuesdays and Saturdays but remaining a five-day a week digital newspaper with the debut of its E-edition. This electronic newspaper is emailed early each morning Tuesday through Saturday to subscribers. In 2010, The Sun introduced several other digital products including a new Web site platform and e-mail promotions What’s For Lunch? and the Edmond Newsflash. The Sun also introduced Studio 46, a political and economics roundtable podcast at edmondsun.com. This weekly program is a co-production of The Sun and the Academy of Leadership & Liberty at Oklahoma Christian University.

2011: CNHI names Karan Ediger as General Manager of The Sun. She was named publisher in October 2012.