110-Year Evolution of The Jeffersonian Newspaper
Writer / Beth Wilder, Jeffersontown Historical Museum Director
June 2017 marks the 110th anniversary of The Jeffersonian, the first weekly newspaper to cover all of Jefferson County.
The Jeffersonian got its start in Jeffersontown on June 13, 1907, when the first issue was published with great hopes for the future. Days before, the Shelby-News announced that the former editor of the Shelby Sentinel, W.C. Barrickman, was going to publish The Jeffersonian, a six-column, four-page paper that would “be devoted strictly to the local news of the county.”
It went on to note that there was “a population of 35,000 people for the paper to circulate among, which would seem enough to guarantee its success.” The first issue stated, “The Jeffersonian has arrived. It is here to stay, not to stand still, but to endure.” How prophetic that comment was, considering the paper, which has gone through a series of editors, name changes and moves over the years, is still going strong to this day, under the current name The Voice-Tribune.
One dollar bought a year’s subscription to The Jeffersonian, which billed itself as “the youngest paper in the county’s oldest town.” The newspaper got its start on the first floor of the Bruce building on the square in Jeffersontown. Sixty correspondents supplied stories about various areas of Jefferson County and beyond, including Lyndon, Long Run, Harrod’s Creek, Eastwood, Prestonia, Fairmont, Worthington, Crescent Hill, Routt, Valley Station, Kosmosdale, Fern Creek, Shively, Goshen, Anchorage and a small town called Rabbitsboro.
In January 1908, Barrickman sold his interests in the paper to J.C. Alcock, who, up to that point, had been The Jeffersonian’s business manager. Alcock became sole owner, editor and publisher, vowing to continue the paper as long as the people of Jefferson County continued to support it. The paper was, needless to say, a huge success with the public, as it provided all the local gossip anyone could hope for as well as well-written, civic-minded articles about happenings throughout the county. The paper did, however, focus heavily on the news of Jeffersontown in particular, since that was its home base.
In 1913, Alcock sold half interest in the paper to Carl A. Hummel. That same year, he hired 15-year-old Tommy R. Jones as a “printer’s devil,” who did whatever was asked of him, from typesetting to firing up the old pot-bellied stove at The Jeffersonian’s new location at 10410 Watterson Trail next to today’s Third Turn Brewery.
In 1918, Jones bought out Alcock’s half interest in the paper, and he and Hummel continued to keep it running through the Depression years, when, after paying their employees, the two men were lucky to have $5 left over. By 1945, Jones was the sole owner of the paper, but he had to sell it in 1959, so he could focus on the health of his wife, Lucille, who had suffered a fall that required an amputation.
The Jeffersonian was then bought by the Voice of St. Matthews owner Al Schansberg. The paper continued to feature Jeffersontown articles, as the 1960s were a time of major growth for the area, but it had to merge with the Voice in 1965 in order to better serve both communities. The paper continued to change hands and names over the years, eventually shifting its focus more to the St. Matthews area and becoming The Voice-Tribune, a lovely magazine that now covers important events in the charitable, social and cultural spheres of Louisville.
The paper that got its start 110 years ago in Jeffersontown, catering to the diverse communities throughout Jefferson County, continues its legacy of weekly updates not only on paper, but in the digital realm as well — Jeffersonian newspapers owned by the Jeffersontown Historical Museum are now available online at jeffersontownky.gov under the Historic Documents section of the Museum web pages. Imagine how its founders would feel about that!