The Perkins Journal has the honor of being the third oldest weekly newspaper in Oklahoma, established as the Perkins Plaindealer by Will T. Little in 1890. It is also the oldest business in Payne County. The name was changed to The Perkins Journal on January 7, 1892, and has been published each week since then.
William T. “Bill” Little, who published the first newspaper in Oklahoma, established a newspaper in Perkins in 1890 called The Perkins Plaindealer. Andrew J. “Andy” Show and his brother, Charles M. Show, purchased The Plaindealer later that year. In the summer of 1891, the name was changed to The Perkins Gateway, a reference to Perkins being the gateway to the Iowa and Sac and Fox reservations to be opened that fall. Andy Show learned his trade as a printer in Arkansas City, Kansas and came to Payne County in 1889. During the first county seat fight, Show moved the Plaindealer to Clayton and published it there as The Standard a few months. Andy told of the time he had prepared a long article on the county seat matter, in the interests of Clayton, and in setting the article used all the type he had. Bee Guthrey was running The Hawk at Payne Center. While Andy was away from his little office, Guthrey stole the article, took it to Payne Center, changed the word “Clayton” to “Payne Center” where ever it occurred, and printed it in The Hawk. Having no more type, Show could not print The Standard until Guthrey brought the article back, which he did. The Shows sold the paper to John P. Hinkel on January 1, 1892, and he christened it The Perkins Journal.
In December 1892, Hinkel wrote, “With this issue The Journal closes the first year of its existence. We are a year old. That it has been a prosperous year for us is proof that the paper still lives. When The Journal made its appearance a year ago Perkins contained but a few mercantile houses, the population small, and the outlook for a newspaper was indeed dubious.” Hinkel continued to build up the paper and by the turn of the century it was the fifth oldest weekly in Oklahoma.
In 1900, Hinkel was appointed postmaster at Ripley, Oklahoma. He also started a newspaper there, The Ripley Times, in April 1900. Having businesses in two towns proved to be too much and he decided to sell his interests in Perkins. William A. Knipe purchased The Journal from Hinkel on April 1, 1901. Knipe hired John P. Hickam, principal of Perkins schools, to edit the paper. Hickam ended up purchasing the paper from Knipe on May 20, 1901.
Hickam was elected to the state Senate and In March 1911, sold The Journal to Dr. T. L. Noblitt in order to devote more time to the lecture platform and farming. Hickam wrote, “This is the last issue of the tenth year I have owned and edited The Journal. During the time no man ever had better friends and stronger supporters. There are scores of men, who had no selfish motive that have stood by The Journal in its battles for good government. In the hard fought battles in Payne county for the past ten years The Journal has not lost a single battle. The Journal has won by taking the right side of all moral and political questions and thereby gained the confidence and good will of the better class of citizens regardless of politics or creed.”
Dr. Noblitt owned and edited the paper for only three months selling it to G. T. Hunnicutt on July 1, 1911. Hunnicutt hired Ivo Kenworhy to edit the paper in September, and after only three months, sold the paper to Kenworthy on October 1, 1911.
Kenworthy, the son of C. W. and Varena Kenworthy, had grown up in Perkins. Active in politics and needing more time, he hired Dossie T. Dryden as editor from 1912 to 1913. In June 1914, he leased The Journal to Harry O. Goff. When Goff’s lease expired in 1915, Kenworthy sold the paper to Frank Harding of Stillwater. Harding had been the Santa Fe agent at Perkins. Five months after purchasing The Journal, Harding died on November 10, 1915. In the next nine months there were five editors including Roy E. Munds, Ted H. Parsons, H. O. Goff , Howard Daws, and C. H. Roff. In November 1916, Andy Show once again owned the paper purchasing The Journal.
Show changed the volume number of the paper in December 1920, increasing it by two, to reflect the years he had published the paper prior to selling it to Hinkel. Edwin H. Brown said, “The Perkins Journal, as conducted by Andy Show in the later years, was the perfect example of the old fashioned country newspaper, quaint, homey, intensely local.” Show sold the paper to L. H. Eyler in 1923. After editing the paper for awhile, Eyler hired Larue Carson to do the job. In 1925, W. D. Franklin & Son purchased The Journal, selling it the same year to A. E. & J. D. Smith. The Smiths owned the paper until April 1, 1929, when they sold it to B. F. Miller.
Lloyd Evans and Russell Putnam purchased The Journal on February 18, 1932. The new owners upgraded the equipment moving a linotype into the office with other much needed equipment. Putnam served as editor until 1933 when he was succeeded by E. M. Long. Long was replaced by R. G. James on August 23, 1934. After only a short time, Long left and was replaced by Glenn L. Eyler, who stayed in the position for 17 years.
J. L. Crossman, brother-in-law of Lloyd Evans, purchased the paper in September 1951. Gordon L. Ray, and Clyde and Martha P. Brown served as editors until Crossman hired his nephew, Robert L. “Bob” Evans to edit the paper on August 4, 1955. Evans’ father had owned the paper for nearly 20 years. He purchased The Journal in March 1956, recalling, “There were several people who paved the way for me to spend my adult life as a smalltown newspaper publisher. The first person was my uncle, Leroy Crossman, who was willing to sell me The Perkins Journal on a monthly payment basis. Then there were Lee and Ruth Kirk, a wealthy Payne County commissioner, rancher and quarter horse breeder and racer, who loaned me enough for a down payment in their willingness to keep the hometown newspaper operating and home owned. The third person was Delbert Butler’s young bank cashier, Galen Holsinger, who not only supplied me with operating loans throughout the years, but served as a friend and counsel in other areas of my life.”
The Evanses sold the paper to Roland Sodowsky on September 1, 1959, and moved to Seiling where they owned The Dewey County News. Sodowsky edited the paper for several years and then hired Billy J. Dickson. Dickson eventually purchased The Journal.
Harland B. Wells, Dan Draper, and Louis O’Haver purchased The Journal on August 18, 1966. Wells eventually bought out Draper and O’Haver. Bob and Yvonne Evans returned to Perkins in 1967 to edit The Journal for Wells, but moved to Barnsdall in 1972 when they purchased The Barnsdall Times. Wells had a succession of editors including his sister, Sandy Wells McCauley, Larry Malone, Rick Clark, and Lee Gray. In 1974, Wells married and his wife, Martha, served as co-publisher/editor in 1975. She was the granddaughter of former publisher Ivo Kenworthy, and had grown up in Beirut, Lebanon where her father taught at the American University of Beirut. Having traveled extensively, she brought a different perspective to The Journal. Under the Wells’ direction, the paper grew in advertising and subscriptions and was named Oklahoma’s second best weekly newspaper in 1975
Bob and Yvonne Evans again became owners and publishers of The Perkins Journal on September 2, 1976. For the next 12 years they put the paper out each Thursday. “We’ve been actively engaged in the newspaper business in three Oklahoma towns for nearly 35 years,” Evans pointed out. “Even though people may not recognize it, operating a man and wife size weekly newspaper - trying to cover all the bases in this circulation area plus handling all the production and editing - is quite a grind and we think it is time to eliminate the numerous deadlines and close scheduling in our lives.”
On April 1, 1989, David and Alberta Burgess of Vinita purchased The Journal from the Evanses for $100,000. “My wife and I have been interested in purchasing a weekly newspaper as an investment for some time, “ Burgess said. “When we looked at The Journal and Perkins, we knew this was the paper we wanted.” Jeff Shultz was hired as editor, but the Burgess’ found that absentee ownership was difficult for a weekly paper. Shultz left in October 1990, and Norma Poe served as editor until Max Evans was hired November 22, 1990. Losing money, the Burgesses unloaded the paper for $40,000 to Indian Nations Communications on April 1, 1991. Indian Nations was owned by Francis Stipe of McAlester and Jim Monroe of Idabel. They also owned newspapers in Cushing, Tahlequah, Fort Gibson, and Mena, AR. R. V. “Rick” Clark served as publisher while Bob Williams served as general manager and editor. Williams was born in Muskogee and graduated from Haskell High School and Oklahoma State University. “I want to become part of the community,” he said. “Perkins is going to be my home. What concerns our town will concern me.”
Indian Nations sold The Journal and the Cushing Daily Citizen as a package deal to David Reid of Cushing. Reid, not really wanting The Journal, in turn sold it to Rick and Kathy Clark on September 1, 1994.
When the Clarks purchased the paper subscribers and advertisers were way down. Under their ownership the paper expanded its coverage of local events and people and built a circulation of nearly 1,400 copies weekly. Rick’s personal column, “Amber Waves,” was at times controversial as he confronted issues that were unpopular or near to his heart. He was never afraid to speak his mind. With his health failing, the Clarks made a decison to sell The Journal to Cindy and Keith Sheets in October 2000. Rick Clark suffered a heart attack and died January 14, 2001.
David Sasser purchased The Journal on October 1, 2003. Under Sasser’s leadership, The Journal made a number of changes including the addition of the Stillwater Journal and ‘Life” sections of the paper and the addition of color to all sections.