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The "Boonville Herald," the first newspaper in Cooper County, was established in 1834 by James O. Middleton and edited by Benjamin E. Ferry.

Four years later, Robert Brent bought a half interest in the paper and its name was changed to "The Western Emigrant."


The second newspaper in Cooper County appeared the following year to assist in the 1840 election campaign. The "Missouri Register" was published by William T. Yoeman was the first Democratic paper in western Missouri.


Both newspapers changed name and ownership several times over the following years, but neither survived the American Civil War.


Although Boonville was the county seat, other newspapers were created within Cooper County. Bunceton, for many years the second largest town in Cooper County, boasted several newspapers over the years. The "Bunceton Enterprise", "The Bunceton Eagle", "The Bunceton News", and "The Bunceton Tribune" all contributed to local news. The last to fold was "The Bunceton Eagle" in 1943.


Pilot Grove also boasted a number of newspapers in its past. The earliest, "The Pilot Grove Record," was established in 1880. "The Pilot Grove Bee" was another early paper in Pilot Grove although its exact date of operation is not documented. Other papers that have come and gone include: "The Cooper County Leader," "Pilot Grove Herald," Pilot Grove Enterprise," and "The Sentinel-Star" which went out of business in 1952.


Otterville had two newspapers, the "Otterville Weekly" and "The War Eagle & Camp Journal of the Army of the West," start publication during the Civil War in 1861. Other papers appeared after the war: "The Little Missourian" and "The Otterville Mail" which closed in 1924. The town was without a newspaper until 1958 when "The Otterville Community News," began operations.


Blackwater, too, at one time had its own newspaper. "The Blackwater News," which was established in 1892, ceased publication in 1923.


Boonville, as the county seat, had the largest population and the most newspapers. Some of the names from this list are merely name changes while others are new papers: "Boonville Herald", "Missouri Register", "Boonville Observer", "Boonville Commercial Bulletin", "Weekly Democrat", "Boonville Weekly Observer", "Central Missourian", "Boonville Weekly Patriot", "Fifth Iowa Register", "Central Missouri Advertiser", and the "Boonville Monitor". None of these papers survived the Civil War.


Other papers came after the war, papers such as "The Boonville Eagle", the "Boonville Missouri Advertiser", the "Central Missourier", and "The Weekly Topic".


Today, with economical and technological changes, Boonville is down to one newspaper, "The Boonville Daily News".

These are the newspapers that were published in Early Cooper County from about 1910 to current date.

Many of these early papers have few or no issues left in existence, so information is slim for most of them.

Research: Ray Owens


Blackwater Advance

Blackwater Wave

Blackwater Echo

Blackwater Times

Blackwater News


Between 1900 and 1930 The Boonville Advertiser was the main Democratic paper and the Central Missouri Republican was the main Republican paper.  Eventually the two papers merged under one owner and became the Boonville Daily News, that is still in operation.


Bunceton Enterprise

Bunceton Telegram

Bunceton Weekly Eagle

Bunceton News

Bunceton Tribune


War Eagle (Civil War Military paper)
The First Division Proclamation (Civil War Military Paper)

Otterville Weekly

Otterville Argus

Otterville Call

Otterville Mail

Otterville Community News (Still running)


Pilot Grove Bee

Pilot Grove Mirror

Cooper County Leader

Pilot Grove Herald

Pilot Grove Enterprise

Pilot Grove Record

Pilot Grove Star

Pilot Grove Sentinel-Star


Wooldridge Star

Source: Ray Owens


Here are a few political comments from the September 1, 1916, Boonville Weekly Advertiser.

“During a recent short trip across the Canadian border, Mr. Hughes was held up and his car searched for explosives. As there was nothing more dangerous than his Detroit speech, he and his party were liberated very promptly. ”As a mud slinger, a chronic scold, Judge Hughes is the greatest candidate ever placed before the public for any office.”

“ ‘The only thing needed to carry Missouri,’ says the Globe-Democrat, ‘is a proper campaign.’ Not the only thing;--a proper candidate, a proper platform, proper issues and a proper party behind all these might help some.”

Other changes between 1916 and 2016 focus on finances and the cost of living. Central National Bank, for instance, paid 2% interest on checking accounts, 3% on 6-months deposits, and 4% on 12-months deposits. Today, few if any types of bank deposits make even 2%. Cigarettes on the other hand are sky-high. The cheapest brand today is over $2 a pack, but Chesterfield’s, one of the premium brands in 1916, were only 10-cents a pack. And used National Cash Register registers were advertised on sale between 5-cents and $10. The listed new price was $175.

Need a place to live? You might be able to find a studio apartment today for $250 a month. In 1916? “House for Rent—Four rooms, water in kitchen, price $9. South Third Street.” Back then, water in kitchen was a good thing. Today, it means ‘fixer upper.’

Source: "Historically Yours"by Elizabeth Davis.



Reporting the news has changed a lot over the years. Today one has only to punch a button on a smart phone to get international news as it happens.  In our early days, colonists relied on newspapers. While newspapers are still around, they have changed dramatically - they can even be read online.  Many magazines have stopped printing all together and gone to electronic versions.

But what were newspapers like before all this modern technology changed us into an instant gratification generation?

“The Cooper County Republican” was established in 1929 and published every Tuesday. Here are some of the headlines that appeared on the front page of the January 18, 1938, issue.

“Roosevelt Vetoes Bill to Hike Hourly Pay of Postal Char-workers”

“Improvement Shown in Missouri Public Schools”

“Daily Papers Protest Rise in Paper Prices”

Other news which appeared as short announcements included the following: FDR held a press conference (before the Recession Parley) that all Holding Companies had to go; a photo and caption: “FDR’s Recession Parley--Labor Leader John Lewis and Financier Owen D. Young leaving the White House and being interviewed by reporters”; and “St. Louis—UAWA Strikers Receive First Ford Peace Offer”. Ford’s seniority list would include UAWA members and consent to a Union election. In return, they asked the Union to call off the strike and withdraw all charges of unfair practices.

The front page included local news as well.

Pythian Notice: The first bridge party to be held after the Christmas holidays will be held at Caste Hall here tomorrow evening at 8 o’clock. All members, their family and friends are urged to attend.”

Funerals, marriage licenses, and birth announcements were also included in local news.

Inside pages: Today, some papers print books reviews. In the 1930s, “The Cooper County Republican” printed whole chapters. One issue might have Chapter 1 then skip two weeks and print Chapter 6. One could never read the whole book in the paper, but it was entertaining and led to sales.

HIPPA is responsible for some of the changes. Announcements like, “Mrs. Jones and new baby dismissed from St. Joseph Hospital,” and “Mr. Smith underwent an operation this morning at St. Joseph Hospital” are no longer allowed due to privacy laws. While the story of a man robbed and left beaten on the side of the road would still make it into today’s news, it’s highly unlikely that a picture of him in his hospital bed, caption reading, “semi-conscious patient with brain damage”, would be allowed.

These are just a few of the changes that have taken place in newspapers over the past 80 years. Who knows what another 80 years will bring.

Adapted from: "Historically Yours" by Elizabeth Davis


Otterville Newspaper was named Otterville Mail

In 1872, J.L. Johnson, established the Otterville Call paper. After a short time he sold it to James Eubank, a prominent teacher of Otterville. Eubank, after a short time sold it to Frank Varner, also a resident of the town. Mr. Varner then leased it to Pearce & Holman, soon after taking charge they changed its name to the Cooper County Mail. Pearce & Holman ran the paper one year, when it passed on to G.P Garland, an old newspaper man. The Mail is an independent local paper, advocating no political doctrine except that of good government. Mr. Garland edits a paper which redounds much credit to Otterville. Mr. Garland died in 1939 in Otterville at the age of 96. 

Missouri’s 29th Lt. Governor born in Bellair, Missouri Newspapers

S. W. Crossley was born in Rockingham County, Virginia, on November 23, 1842. Crossley was a Confederate veteran who fought in the Stonewall Jackson Brigade. After losing an arm in the war he became a noted educator and settled for a time in Bellair, Mo. Professor and Mrs. Crossley’s only son, Wallace Clifford Crossley, was born in Bellair on October 4, 1874.

Wallace Crossley grew up in Mexico, Mo., and after high school graduation, he attended William Jewell College in Liberty and the University of Missouri. He returned to Mexico to teach English before his career took him to Warrensburg Normal School, which after several name changes is now the University of Central Missouri.

In 1904, Crossley was elected as a Representative to Missouri’s General Assembly. He served three two-year terms under Governors Joseph “Holy Joe” Wingate Polk and Herbert Spencer Hadley.

Crossley went into the newspaper business in 1907 when he became publisher of the Journal-Democrat. The two papers had merged in 1876. Following another merger in February 1913, the paper became the Star-Journal. He would continue as published until his death in 1943.

Crossley was only out of the General Assembly two years. In 1912, he was returned to Jefferson City for a four-year term as a Senator under Governor Elliot Woolfolk Major.

In 1916, Wallace Crossley was elected 29th Lt. Governor of the State of Missouri. He and newly elected Governor Frederick “Fred” Dozier Gardner served from January 8, 1917, to January 10, 1921. It was during these four years that Missouri went from a debt of $2,250,000 to a surplus of $3,500,000.

Wallace Clifford Crossley died on December 13, 1943, and is buried in Sunset Hills Cemetery in Warrensburg.


 J. Melton and Big Sky Park - part of Harley Park Newspapers

Elston Joseph Melton was born in Jefferson City on November 17, 1891, and grew up around California, Mo. After high school, he attended the Chicago Art Institute before turning to newspaper work, first in California, Mo., then in Miami, Ok., and finally back in Mo. at Clayton.

During the Great War, Melton served in the navy at US Naval Base 17 in Scotland. After the war, he returned to the newspaper business working for papers in Pilot Grove, Sedalia, Boonville, and Caruthersville working as a printer, reporter, editor, partner, and even owner/publisher. He sold The Caruthersville Republican in September 1925 when Governor Sam Baker appointed him deputy state oil inspector for southeast Mo.

Melton launched the Boonville Republican in April 1929, publishing it as a weekly for four years before turning it into a daily. A year later he merged it with the Boonville Daily News. Fourteen months later, he sold out and stepped down as editor.

Although the majority of Melton’s time up to 1935 was spent in the newspaper business, he did have other interests.

After selling his share of the Boonville Daily News in 1935, Melton continued to write, doing special pieces for the Cape Girardeau Southeast Missourian and a syndicated column called “Pen Pointers.” In 1936 he published “Will Rogers, Kemper Valedictorian ’98.” It was probably during these two years that he started writing his history of Cooper County, Missouri, which was published in 1937. That same year, he published “Billy Aikors history of 1937.”

Along the way, his daughter Mary grew up and married Harry Eugene Hall. The couple gave Mary’s parents four grandsons. Mark Melton Hall was born in 1949 and Michael Owen Hall followed in 1950. The twins, Dale Todd Hall and David Paul Hall, were born in 1952.

Then tragedy struck. In June 1961, Mary died unexpectedly at the couple’s home in Canton, Mo., leaving behind a husband and four pre-teen sons.

In January 1968, a $1,000.00 certificate was donated to the City of Boonville by Mr. & Mrs. E. J. Melton to start a trust fund as a memorial to their daughter, Mary Melton Hall. The Park Board members were to be trustees and administer the funds with the interest being used for improvements and plantings in an area west of Harley Park to be known as “Big Sky Park.”

On May 6, 1968, the Boonville City Council unanimously approved an ordinance which created and defined the Big Sky Area of Harley Park along with its trust fund.

Today, on Riviera Dr., a plaque can be found on a large rock overlooking the area. It reads: “Harley Park, ‘Big Sky Area,’ In Memory of Mary Melton Hall, Denoted by E J Melton Family.”

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