According to an article researched and written by David E. Patterson for the February 29, 1992 edition of The Thomaston Times, the first newspaper in Upson County was ‘The Hickory Nut and Upson Vigil,’ and was printed from April 1833 until early in 1834. On May 14, 1834, ‘The Boackwoodsman and Upson Yeoman’ began, but we don’t know when it ended. The next newspaper was the ‘Upson Pilot,’ first printed on November 8,1858. It may have ended in 1862 when the publisher moved to the coast, or in 1864 when the newspaper office burned. All of these, as have all the rest since, were weekly newspapers.
The Thomaston Times descended from a long line of papers with various names. It started out on Dec. 9, 1869 as the ‘Georgia Herald,’ became the ‘Thomaston Herald’ in 1870, the ‘Upson Enterprise’ in 1878, the ‘Middle Georgia Times’ in 1879, and finally ‘The Thomaston Times’ on Oct. 2, 1886. It is ending publication today, Dec. 29, 2015, 146 years after the Georgia Herald began.
I thought about doing a longer article on the history of The Thomaston Times, but then I thought it would make more interesting reading to have you, our readers, comment on what the paper has meant to you. I made the announcement of our closing on our Facebook page on Dec. 17 and received 20 comments about our closing. Phyl Gatlin posted the article on her Facebook page on Dec. 21 and received 11 comments, and Lori Showalter-Smith pasted the article on her Facebook page on Dec. 22 and got eight comments. The majority of those comments are printed below.
From our post on our Facebook page:
Kay McDonald Dunaway: This is very sad. I am so sorry.
James C. McGill: Thank you for the support you have given us over 147 years. The history you have left we will keep it close to our heart.
Matt Norris: I used to sell Thomaston Times subscriptions every summer as a kid. I can’t remember how much I made, but it was always my spending money for our beach vacation. Thanks for your service to the community.
Tonia Brown: Thanks for supporting our school children’s sports and other activities. It’s always a delight to see our children in the paper.
Aseret Snedding: The only news source for Thomaston/Upson County. Will there be another?
Christopher J. Drummond: Sad. I worked for the Times briefly after J-school.
Kirsten Nichole Toney: I remember how excited I was as a child to clip my pictures from the paper when we had our dance recitals. I felt like a star, lol.
Angela M. McCleskey: I have many clippings from the sports page of The Thomaston Times. I can remember when it came out 3 times a week. Enjoyed reading it!
Kayla Hicks: This was the front page of The Thomaston Times on February 26, 1990. It’s my little brother’s (Travis Hicks) 2nd haircut by Mr. Story at the Hotel Upson Barber Shop. (A photo of the front page story accompanied her post.)
Cindy Philpott Wheless: Always looked forward to the article Charles Gordy wrote around Christmas time!
Karen English Puckett: Thomaston Times you will be missed! I have many clippings of my family to treasure. Thank you!
Keysa Baxley: Very sad. I’ve been in this paper several times for various reasons, but the one I remember most was the accident I was in on Highway 19 back in Dec. 2001, I believe. I had to be air lifted out of there, my name then was Samantha Keysa Dorris. I used to have a copy of that issue, but over the years it was lost.
Angela Salter: The Thomaston Times followed my miracle baby’s progress and his homecoming in 1998.
Terry Davidson: You should start a drive to save your business like the owners of the Ritz Theater did. Worked for them.
Wayne Johnson: I remember the Times covering my winning the Georgia Textile Foundation scholarship in 1964. Without that scholarship, I never would have graduated from Georgia Tech in 1970. My family was so proud of that article.
James Tidwell: WOW, that is so sad. I still have many clippings from high school days, when I was at R. E. Lee, Yatesville High School and Upson Hi (the original Upson Hi). And some from other events since. I go online and read ThomastonTimes.com, since I have moved to Memphis. Maybe people have simply become used to reading it online vs purchasing the paper. Thomaston and Upson County is losing a big part of its history, past and future.
Joyce McKenney Duncan: I always enjoyed Leon Smith and Charles Gordy’s columns. The Thomaston Times was a great newspaper.
Charlotte Brediger: The Thomaston Times chronicled our childhood from Girl Scouts to R. E. Lee events. It was always special to “get your picture in the paper,” and thanks to the Times, we have many memories in print. Thank you for the memories.
Allen Goode: It’s really sad that newspapers like this one can’t stay in business. Something that we could always count on. Thanks for your service for all those years.
Julie Johnson Sands: So sad to hear this. I grew up reading this paper and even after moving away I continued to get it.
Lori Showater-Smith reposted the article about our closing and received the following comments
Lori Showalter-Smith: So sad. I worked at The Times for several years just trying to figure out what I wanted to do “when I grew up.” It’s bittersweet, but so grateful that I met some pretty wonderful people.
Nikkie Hammons Spoon: I loved working there with y’all!
Amy Trice: Incredibly sad to see it go. When I was on the Sword & Shield, the Times would let Brandon and me come use the darkroom. It was such a cool experience that I’ll treasure forever. Also, a very special thanks to Phyl (Gatlin) for all her beautiful photos over the years.
Linda Alsobrooks: So very sad.
Gwinette Heaton: Yes, me too. I hate to see it go.
Connie Gray Kile: Barbara Gray Tyson, what will you do without your newspaper? I can’t imagine it not being there.
Barbara Gray Tyson: Thomaston had two papers in the last several years. The Upson Beacon will continue to operate. Years ago we had The Thomaston Times and The Free Press. I always loved Leon Smith’s column. Our long time friend Linda Dawson Knight worked at The Times for several years.
Rodney Maria Salter: I agree Lori Showalter-Smith. We had some great times. I will always cherish my time with you, Dusty, Linda, Phyl, Alicia, Mrs. Willie, and Mrs. Jeannette and so many more! What a sad day.
Bill McDowell: So sad to hear. I remember our days there.
Linda Knight: My 16 years employed at The Times was awesome. I am grateful for the friendships I have made with fellow employees and my wonderful customers. There are so, so many funny stories that made a job… the best of Times, to me. And Lori Showalter Smith, I will never forget the day you walked in with those mile high shoes on.
Ron Myatt: Sorry. That’s the newspaper business. I also loved working there with all you folks. Let’s have a reunion after it closes.
Phyl Gatlin reposted the article about our closing and received the following comments
Jim Rice: I just learned that the newspaper at which I launched my career is folding. With my Bethany College diploma in hand (and later framed at a shop a couple of doors up from the paper), I accepted $600 a month to work 10 hours per day and six days per week. (Because it is the Bible Belt, I got Wednesday evenings and Sundays off.) I never regretted a moment of it. I wrote articles, shot black & white photos (thanks to Phyl M Gatlin, who patiently coached me to a functional level), laid out and pasted up the pages and even occasionally delivered papers to the racks located between the office and my rented mobile home (on farmland that I occasionally shared with cattle). It was an experience that helped me every step of the way. I can only hope it’s my only former employer that has to shutter its doors.
M. E. Yancosek Gamble: I’m sorry they are closing, but happy you had such an experience.
Jeffrey L. Seglin: Sad to hear news of the closing. Good to hear how strong an influence your colleagues had on you.
Deborah ‘Debby’ Price Balcer: Sad news!
Michael Hogue: Hate to see it, Jim. Hard copy has hit hard times, and sad to say ‘will’ be reflected in the lack of media in coming years – say 100 or so, when someone is looking back to see what happened in our day. Can’t trust electronic records, not forever, not like archival paper, pencil, and ink. I know about this stuff. I’ve seen a lot of old data lost, trashed, thrown out because no one could read it with today’s programs. Not like in the old days with the newspapers and letters, not to mention diaries. I hate it for ya, dude, and am feeling sorry for the print industry.
Brenda G. Huber: It is horrible to find something we love obsolete in these modern times. I value the ethics I learned at the low paying jobs I had while I was still in school and after I graduated. Thank goodness we learned to write. It is a lost art now.
Phyl Gatlin: Those were fun times – we were young and committed to giving that paper and Upson County our all. We worked more than we should have, but we were a family and we did it together with high ideals and full of the right stuff of journalism. I wouldn’t take anything for that beginning and those that came and went along the way. The Thomaston Times shaped my life in a profound and wonderful way and Jim Rice, you were and continue to be one of the smartest and most committed journalists I know. Thank you for teaching me about sports and being a lifelong friend. What a sad day for us and for Thomaston, Yatesville and all of Upson County.
Betsy Williams: Yes, they were fun time, and Phyl, you are correct. We were committed to doing a good job – and have fun in the process. It could be harrying, rewarding, frustrating and significant, all at the same time. Many talented people walked through those doors and hung their hats for a while, and Jim, you and Phyl were among the best! It was a real pleasure and honor to work with (almost) all of the people I had the opportunity to work with during my time there. It really breaks my heart to see this newspaper, which had a great legacy and made a huge difference in the community in its day, close for good.
Larry Stanford: From all of us at The Thomaston Times, past and present, thank you for allowing us to be a part of the community and share its news with you for the past 146 years.
Larry Stanford may be reached on Twitter @LarryStanford7.