If everything old becomes new again, the Internet brings a dynamic dimension to one of the state's most honored and respected newspapers. The Messenger has been a trusted source for news since 1917. And now, online viewers are keeping up with the local news, and a whole lot more, at this web site.
The first 47 years of The Messenger's publication were at 30 N. Main St., where Cellular One Phones is now located. Since 1965, The Messenger newspaper, and now its online edition, has been in a modern new building at 221 S. Main St.
It all started with Judge Clarence Christian Givens, a man educated to practice law who also loved the newspaper business. Admitted to the bar at an early age, the Judge was the first editor of The Messenger. Actually, the paper was started by Alexander Bailey as an adjunct to his printing business. The small four page weekly, which Bailey named The Messenger, never amounted to much, so Bailey sold it to Judge C.C. Givens.
In appearance those early Messengers differed greatly from today's sleek, professionally done editions. They were usually four pages, with larger type than today, bold headlines and no pictures. The Messenger featured classified ads throughout the paper, even sometimes on page 1.
The Associated Press telegraphed 300 words a day on the top news.
On Monday, Nov. 11,1918, The Messenger headline in big bold type, proclaimed "Big War Is Over."
It was after the war that The Messenger's first editor became Hopkins County judge at the age of 30. After two years in office, Judge Givens resigned due to an ever worsening asthma condition. At the same time, he resigned as president of Madisonville Publishing Company.
As his last act as president, he presided over the purchase of The Messenger's only competition, The Madisonville Hustler and The Earlington News, for $10,000 cash and 10 percent of the stock of Madisonville Publishing Company. Possession was taken on Feb. 1, 1923, and Judge Givens resigned the next day.
The Hustler staff, J.J. Glenn and Albert Larmouth, once editor and city editor of The Hustler, came over to The Messenger. Larmouth continued to work in The Messenger newsroom until his death in 1964.
From the time of Judge Givens' resignation in February 1923 until 1945, The Messenger news staff consisted mainly of three men, co editors Woodson Browning and Edgar Arnold, and Albert Larmouth.
Browning performed the tasks several editors would on a large newspaper, editing copy, writing headlines, reporting local news and even writing editorials from time to time.
Edgar Arnold edited wire copy and after Browning's death, wrote all the editorials, usually three or four lengthy dissertations on the issues of the day. Arnold pulled no punches in his editorials, saying exactly what he thought. He was widely read and many of his editorials were entered in the Congressional Record in Washington, D.C. by his friend Rep. William Natcher.
The third man in the newsroom, Albert Larmouth, who was still reporting at 82, is remembered as an eccentric who came into the newsroom and stuffed copy paper in his ears to shut out distracting noises.
Woodson Browning and Edgar Arnold had completely opposite personalities but those who worked with them remembered the two as friendly working colleagues who exhibited no temperament clashes in their 25 years together editing The Messenger.
In the '20s, newspapers dealt with crime, scandal, prohibition, glamour Hollywood style, and in the very last year, the stock market crash. Arnold had no use for the Ku Klux Klan and said so editorially. Soon he received a letter from a Klansman threatening members of his family, The Messenger building and even the staff.
On Friday, Jan. 5, 1945, Woodson Browning finished writing his weekly column "Chatter By George" and left The Messenger office early. He died of a heart attack two days later leaving the paper under the solid editorship of Arnold.
One day, later in 1945, Arnold walked into the office of City Clerk Ernest Claytor, closed the door behind him and hired him as city editor.
Edgar Arnold Jr. came home from service in the Air Force in World War II and settled in as proofreader at The Messenger, then advancing to reporter. Later young Arnold entered the University of Kentucky to study journalism. After a year he became a candidate for state representative in the Democratic primary, where he served a two year term. Edgar Jr. returned to The Messenger as editor and then managing editor.
When his dad died Aug. 8, 1963, young Arnold became editor of the paper and president of the company. With the move into the new building in 1965 Bailey Anderson became the paper's general manager. He was instrumental in The Messenger's transition from a small paper to a publishing company that printed several other newspapers.
Then on Saturday, April 18, 1970, it was announced that The Messenger had been sold to R. Guy Hankins and associates, T. Eugene Worrell, Worrell Newspapers Inc., Bristol, Va., Carmage Walls, Walls Investment Company, Montgomery, Ala., and Richard N. Hammell Tri City Newspapers, Florence, Ala. R. Guy Hankins would be the new publisher.
T. George Washington, Arthur S. Powers, and H. Doug Miller followed Hankins as publisher.
In December1982, while Miller was publisher, The Messenger again was sold this time to The New York Times Regional Newspaper Group. Roger Hawkins was publisher under The Times until Oct. 28, 1992, when Alfred Scott moved up from circulation/production director to become publisher. Hawkins went on to publish another Times newspaper in Gadsden, Ala. He was succeeded by Bob Morris on Aug. 5, 1995, when the paper was again sold to Paxton Media Group of Paducah, Ky. Morris was succeeded by Tony Maddox until Aug. 2008, then by current publisher Rick Welch who served as President of the Kentucky Press Association in 2015.
The Messenger began online publication of its daily product in 1996 and has gradually expanded the scope of its operation, continuing a tradition of informing the world starting over a century ago.