MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

October 18, 2008

Muskogee Times town’s first daily paper

In 1897, the Eddleman family purchased a struggling newspaper called the Muskogee Daily Times. The paper had begun the year before and was owned then by Theo Gulick and Carl Bishop. Finding the town almost too small to support a daily paper, Gulick and Bishop decided to sell.

Three cousins bought the paper — Myrta Eddleman, her brother George and their cousin Charles Daugherty. David J. Eddleman, father of Myrta and George and another daughter named Ora, acted as editor of the Times.

There was plenty of news to write about in 1897, so they did not lack for subject material. The Dawes Commission had just set up its office in Muskogee, and the statehood movement was fodder for constant updates. And in those days, even the trivial was news — from the arrival of the first telephone and the first automobile, to the arrival of the first bathtub in town! Besides reporting on the capture of the latest outlaw or the most recent political skirmish, the Time’s society column covered all the gossip of the day.

The Muskogee Times, like so many other downtown businesses, lost its building in the Great Fire of 1899. But they never missed a single issue of the paper, David Eddleman would later report with pride. For a few months after the fire, they operated the business from a tent and used the press of a weekly paper called the Muskogee Phoenix.

The Times was published as a morning paper, but a few months after they purchased it, the Eddlemans changed it to an evening paper. One of the greatest struggles the paper faced was in selling advertising. Many businesses were the only one of its kind in the town so there was little need to advertise.

In a fall issue of the Times, the newspaper reported that Muskogee could boast of “75 business houses.” The town had a mattress factory, three oil wells, two corn mills and one flour mill, six churches and five secondary schools (all private, for there were no public schools at that time). Apparently, Muskogee also had more lawyers than any other town its size.

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