By Echo Menges
According to archived stories in past editions of The Edina Sentinel the newspaper’s very first edition was published on April 5, 1868, almost three years after the end of the Civil War, by the firm Taylor, Porter and Stephenson, and was edited by Civil War General Thomas Thompson Taylor who had a partial interest in the venture.
Gen. Taylor was an outsider to the area, who moved his family to Knox County from Brown County, Ohio. While his time in Edina and Knox County was somewhat short he had a lasting impact, The Edina Sentinel, which continues today.
“He was aggressive, very aggressive,” said Brown County, Ohio, Historian Ned Lodwick. “He was driven and educated and he wasn’t afraid.”
According to Lodwick the Civil War hero was an aspiring politician who had many accomplishments early in life before the Civil War broke out.
“He ran the paper here in town, he had a grocery store, a dry good store, he was a farmer, the prosecuting attorney and he married into one of the major families in this town.” Said Lodwick. “All by the time he was 24.”
In 1870, Gen. Taylor became the sole proprietor of the Sentinel.
In those days newspapers were politically tied and often driven by their affiliations. The Sentinel was as a Republican Party publication.
Though it was not the counties first, second, third or even fourth locally published newspaper, for a brief time, when it came into existence, it was Knox County’s only newspaper.
In 1871 in county competition to the Sentinel was born. Another newspaper named The Knox County Democrat, touting its ties to the Democratic Party, entered the scene and drew an invisible line in the sand between the two newspapers. The first Knox County Democrat was published on a Saturday, March 4, 1871, nearly three years after the first Sentinel went to press. William Clancy and Theodore Coony undertook the venture.
According to local Historian, Brent Karhoff, when the newspapers were established the area was embarking on an age of prosperity.
“The Civil War was over. The railroad was talking about coming through. Things were starting to pick up here. German immigrants were coming in. Things were starting to prosper,” said Karhoff.
In those days and through much of its history, Sentinel Printing was well known for being one of the most forward operating and technologically advanced printing offices in the state.
Though the Sentinel and Democrat changed hands several times, the post Civil War era publications remained viable and credible newspapers co-existing in Edina for several decades on through the turn of the century. The two publications often butted heads where political rivalries and allegiances were concerned, calling each other out regularly and publicly. Past editor of The Edina Sentinel, Doug Wilson, once wrote, “The exchanges between them became heated at times and would be considered libelous today.”
In 1925 the Sentinel and Democrat merged, the latter being bought out by the prior, keeping the Sentinel name and officially making the publication a nonpartisan independent publication. Since that time no other news publication has been able to successfully take hold in Knox County. The Sentinel remains to be the only newspaper based in Knox County.
The most noted Sentinel publisher of late, and still widely remembered, is F.E. Schofield who grew up in the Sentinel offices owned by his father while he was a boy. After the Sentinel was sold to someone outside the Schofield family, F.E. Schofield made his way back to Edina, became the Sentinel’s editor and eventually took ownership of the paper. He remains as the Sentinel’s longest running proprietor with 50 years at the helm of the newspaper, until 1970. When he died Mrs. Schofield took over the business for three years until her death in 1973.
In January of 1976 Hazel Bledsoe, now Hazel Smith, who had been a co-publisher of The LaBelle Star for 13 years prior, bought out then co-owner Delbert Hawkins’ share of the Sentinel. In 1977 Bledsoe-Smith and her remaining partner, Larry Phillips, started The Media, which began as a free weekly newspaper. Bledsoe-Smith later bought the Kahoka-Gazette Herald merging it with The Media, which made it the only newspaper in Clark County at that time.
According to Sentinel archives, Bledsoe-Smith was able to establish the first weekly newspaper group in the state.
After an impressive run in the newspaper business Bledsoe-Smith sold the three newspapers, Sentinel, Star and Media, to the current publishers and editors, Mike and Sue Scott, on March 27, 2003.
The Star has since closed it’s doors, though the Scotts continue to hold the reins to all three newspapers today, along with a new venture, which is the creation of the website that encompasses both the Sentinel and Media, nemonews.net. In 2015 The Star was reborn online as lewiscountystar.com under the nemonews.net brand.
Though the website began several years prior in 2013 the Scotts pushed the publications into the digital age making it possible for readers to see their traditional newspapers electronically, either by electronic subscription or by visiting an electronic news stand built into the website.
The Sentinel and Media remain strong publications and the Scotts' stories within the history of the Northeast Missouri newspaper business continues to be written.
According to Karhoff The Edina Sentinel is Knox County’s oldest, longest running business, which is a source of great pride kept by those of us who are working to keep the newspaper going.
Gen. T.T. Taylor 1868 to 1873
J.C. Claypool 1873 to 1889
R.F. Schofield 1889 to 1906
Dr. and Mrs. Edward S. Brown 1906 to 1914
F.E. Schofield 1914 to 1970
Ida Schofield 1970 to 1973
Larry Phillips and Delbert Hawkins 1973 to 1976
Hazel (Bledsoe) Smith 1976 to 2003
Mike and Sue Scott 2003 to Present
Sources: A History Of Northeast Missouri published by The Lewis Publishing Company in 1913 and Archived Issues of The Edina Sentinel.