On August 22, 1895, Anthony C. Clippinger and B. B. Miller established the Norris City Record. Graham Black bought Miller’s interest and a short time later, A. C. Clippinger and Sons bought complete interest in the newspaper. His three sons were Ralph, Roy, and Cecil. Roy Clippinger was later active in various newspapers in Carmi. Roy worked with his father in Norris City until 1909, when he moved to Carmi to begin his newspaper career there. Following the death of A. C. Clippinger, Ralph continued to operate the business until the 1930s and the depression era, when it was discontinued. The last issue in the possession of the Illinois State Historical Library in Springfield (the Abraham Lincoln Library) is dated January 3, 1935.
The first office of the Norris City Record was located near the old B. & O. Railroad tracks on East Main Street between the old Norris City State Bank building (later used as the City Hall and then by the Villagers’ Voice) and the present location of the American Beauty Shop, which is in the old First National Bank building at the southeast corner of Main and Division Streets. This office was a small frame building, about 14 feet wide and 25 feet long. The early papers were printed on an old fashioned hand press. The first paper contained four pages, two of which were printed in Norris City and two in St. Louis by the Kellogg Company.
The office was then moved to the west side of South Division Street between Main and Second Streets at 116 South Division Street where the El Mexicano Restaurant is now located. The Carmi Tribune Times published the Norris City Chronicle from September 26, 1929 (first issue) through October 1929. This paper was operated by Mr. White in a building on the southwest corner of South Division and Second Streets. [I have a complete bound set of all of these papers.]
Mr. and Mrs. William J. “Bill” Weise had a copy of a newspaper dated Saturday, April 29, 1939 named Norris City News and showing Volume 1, Number 1. The headline reads “First Edition of Weekly Paper.”
The April 29, 1939 Norris City News newspaper shows Charles and Katherine Beard, Owners and Publishers, and Fred J. Madison, Shop Foreman. It was published weekly for Norris City, Enfield, and vicinity. Evidently the newspaper did not stay in business very long since no newspaper had existed in Norris City for at least six months before the Norris City News issue of June 12, 1941.
The Norris City News started April 29, 1939 by Charles and Katherine Beard was located in the building that had previously housed the Norris City Record. This is the building on the west side of South Division Street, the present location of El Mexicano Restaurant. None of the issues of the Norris City News started by the Beard’s on April 29, 1939 have ever been microfilmed.
Mr. and Mrs. Weise are now both deceased and I don’t know what happened to the copy they had kept. It had their wedding announcement in it.
Evidently when A. L. Grace started a newspaper in Norris City in 1941 he took the name of the defunct newspaper started by the Beard’s.
Norris City had been without a newspaper until A. L. Grace started the Norris City News in 1941. A. L. Grace and Sons were the Publishers and Paul Ragsdale the Editor. The first issue of the Norris City News was published on June 12, 1941. In November 1941, due to the ill health of Mr. Grace and his son having to enter the service, the News was sold to Ralph Hawkins of Missouri. Mr. Hawkins operated the News for two years before selling out and returning to Missouri on March 1, 1943 to Bernard O’Brien of Canton, Illinois. In August 1944 Mr. O’Brien sold out to N. M. Fligstein, who put out his first issue of the paper on August 23, 1944. In July 1945 he sold the Norris City News to Valter Publications with P. J. Valter as the publisher. The paper was printed in Shawneetown. Mrs. J. O. (Sally) DeLap was acting editor until Valter appointed Mildred Haenny to be the editor. When Mildred Haenny married Bernard Roy she retired from the newspaper job and Paul Ragsdale became the editor. He served until February 19, 1949, when Rue G. Starr was appointed the editor. Starr was famous for his “Stardust” column. In 1952 the News was sold to Roy Clippinger owner of the Carmi Times Publishing Company and the paper was printed in Carmi. In September 1960 Starr left and Donald Ward became editor. Joe Gossett took over as editor in November 1961 and continued in that capacity until he resigned on December 28, 1973. Then Carmi Times owner Velda Clippinger Ames (widow of Roy Clippinger) was editor until Roy W. Jordan took over with the April 17, 1974 issue. The Carmi Times Publishing Company suspended publication of the Norris City News on May 30, 1974. The last location of the Norris City News was in the second building west of the Banterra Bank parking lot on the north side of East Main Street.
In 1974 the Norris City Shopper was put out with Joe Gossett as the editor. It filled the needs of the community as a free paper until the Norris City Banner was organized.
The Norris City Banner’s first issue was dated September 4, 1974 with Joe A. Gossett as Owner and Managing Editor, Dan Jestic as Associate Editor and Advertising Manager, Kathy Long as Office Manager, and Jeannie Gossett as Society Editor. It started in the building last occupied by the Norris City News.
The Banner was sold January 1, 1978 to Joe Jackson, who served as President and Managing Editor. Joe Jackson then sold it to Bob and Linda Holman; they in turn sold it to James Bond, owner of The Money Stretcher.
The Norris City Banner was then sold to American Publishing Company. Liberty Group Publishing bought the Banner along with a large group of other southern Illinois newspapers from American Publishing Company. It was then bought by Gateway Publishing.
Jeannie Gossett worked for the Norris City News for 3-1/2 years as Society Editor and part time afterwards to help train someone new or as a fill-in when needed until in 1973. Jeannie started working at the Banner as Society Editor, left for a few years, and then returned when the Holman’s purchased it. She worked setting copy for the Holman’s. Jeannie became Managing Editor when James Bond purchased the Banner in 1983, a position she held until her retirement. She worked in the newspaper business about 25 years, with 20 years, 1983-2003, as Managing Editor of the Norris City Banner.
Jeannie Gossett retired on July 1, 2003 from the Norris City Banner and was succeeded by Karrie Scott. Karrie was followed by others until Junalie Nelson took over. Junalie Nelson was Editor until June 16, 2010. Abby Short took over as Editor on June 23, 2010 with Chelsea Merritt assisting. On August 18, 2010, Darla Ehrbright took over as Editor. Marilyn Bryant started as her assistant on March 2, 2011. The Gateway Publications closed the Norris City Banner with the last issue being dated June 29, 2011.
The Villagers’ Voice was started by John Schofield and others with the first complete issue being dated August 3, 2011. The week before a single page free copy was printed.
The staff at that time were Darla Erbright, Editor/Publisher; Marilyn Bryant, Assistant Editor/Composition; Karrie Scott, Advertising and Sales; Alisha Black, Business Manger/Billing; John Schofield, Circulation; and Paul Black, Technical Support. In February 2012 Bob Sertak was General Manager; Amy Johnson was Editor and Staff Writer; and Karrie Scott and Jessica Cade were in charge of Advertisement and Sales.
In 2013 the staff was Paul Black, Publisher; Karrie Scott, Kathy Sands and Donna Brinkley, Editing and Staff Writers; Marilyn Bryant, Composition; Karrie Scott and Sharon Lampert, Advertising and Sales; Alisha Black, Business and Billing; John Schofield, Circulation; and Paul Black, Technical Support. Later, in September 2013, Jeff Skaggs was employed as Sports Writer.
In mid 2014 Alisha Black was listed as Publisher, Jeff Skaggs was Managing Editor and Sports Writer; Kathy Sands was in charge of news and features; Amy Johnson was put in charge of Advertising Sales; Jaime Goebel was in charge of Billing; and Rolly Rollison was in charge of Advertising and Web Design. The other positions remained unchanged. By November 1914, Cathy Black and Becky Weaver were put in charge of Sports. Kathy Sands was Editor and in charge of News; and the rest of the staff remain unchanged. Some others worked in sales and such for short times.
The current staff of the Villagers’ Voice, for its last paper issue dated August 7, 2019, is Alisha Black, Publisher; Kathy Sands, Editor and News; Cathy Black and Becky Weaver, Sports; Marilyn Bryant, Composition and Layout; Etta Healy, Billing; John Schofield, Circulation; and Rolly Rollison, Internet Advertising and Web Design.
Some of the news columnists have been: Naomi Cushman, Springerton News; Rosemary Beam, Omaha News; Lois Duckworth, Enfield News; Ruth Pyle, Wabash Retirement Center; Shannon Lampert, Carmi News; Junalie Nelson, Omaha Happenings; Charlie Melton, Charlie’s Voice; and Edward Oliver, Remembering Our History.
It has been a pleasure writing history articles over the past 8 years to be printed in the Villagers’ Voice and I really appreciate the favorable comments I have received from the readers of my articles.
May God bless all of you readers and may God bless and protect America from its enemies, both domestic and foreign.
Edward Oliver, P O Box 456, Norris City, IL 62869, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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