The Newnan Herald was Georgia’s first newspaper after Civil War
The Times-Herald, started as a sideline by two Newnan lawyers in the days after the Civil War ended, has become an institution in the intervening 148 years.
For decades, Coweta County residents have turned to The Times-Herald for news about local government. Mothers of the bride have brought write-ups about their daughters’ weddings, and sports fans have checked out the results of the latest local games.
Two Newnan attorneys, J. S. Bigby and J. C. Wootten, decided to start a newspaper as a sideline to their practices, and the first issue of The Newnan Herald came off the presses on Sept. 9, 1865 — exactly five months after the Civil War ended.
The four-page weekly — the first paper started in Georgia after the Civil War — cost $3 per year in advance and was published on Saturday.
Soon after the first Herald hit the streets, Bigby — who became active in local politics — sold his interest in the paper to James A. Welch. Following the deaths of Welch and Wootten, the Herald was edited by A. B. Cates, a native of Tennessee and a Confederate veteran.
Cates ran the Herald until late 1886, or early 1887 when the Herald consolidated with the Coweta Advertiser, published by the Rev. W. W. Wadsworth.
After the merger of the Herald and Wadsworth’s journal, the newpaper became known as the Herald and Advertiser. James E. Brown, who later became known as Judge Brown after his appointment as a U.S. Commissioner, became editor. He served for four decades and was known for his insightful editorials. Brown was born in Marion County in 1854. Before coming to Newnan, he founded the Henry County Weekly in 1877. The “Coweta County Chronicles” history reported that Brown served as editor there until 1886 when he came to Newnan as editor of the Advertiser, coming to the Herald and Advertiser after the merger.
Brown married a Newnan woman, Kate Milner, in 1883.
In 1912, Brown sold the Herald and Advertiser to Rhodes McPhail “after having guided its fortunes for nearly 25 years,” according to the “Chronicles.” The sale did not last, however. “The Herald people wanted James E. Brown and James E. Brown wanted to return to his accustomed place — which he did with Ellis M. Carpenter as an assistant,” the county history reported.
In 1915, the Herald and Advertiser absorbed another rival, the Newnan News, and the paper again became known as the Newnan Herald. The “Chronicles” reported, “The owners of the News are part owners of the Herald, and the owners of the Herald happy to have devoured a troublesome rival.”
Among those serving as business manager during Brown’s tenure were Edgar T. Whatley, Thomas S. Parrott and Oren William Passavant. Passavant also served as editor in 1911 and 1912 in Brown’s absence.
Passavant purchased the paper on Brown’s retirement in 1928, serving as editor until 1936. In 1933 the paper was cited for honorable mention in editorial competition.
Passavant, who was born in Uniontown, Penn. in 1882, came to Newnan to live in 1906. The news staff in the early 1930s consisted of Passavant and a young woman named Roberta Lyndon, later Mrs. Roberta Mayes of Atlanta. “I worked from 1934 until 1936 — when I came to Atlanta,” Mayes recalled in a 1988 interview.
"I was a little of everything. Mr. Passavant didn’t have a large staff,” Mrs. Mayes said. She remembered Passavant as “a marvelous person to work for.”
In 1936 Passavant sold the paper to Hanson G. Ford. During the four years that Ford operated the Herald, his wife Dorothy Gardner Ford, a descendant of the Cole family, took an active role in the newspaper’s operations.
In 1940 Ford sold the paper to George W. MacNabb and Victor D. Armstrong. Armstrong soon left to serve in the armed forces, and MacNabb continued as editor and business manager until 1946. Miss Sarah Parrott worked with MacNabb at the Herald. “It was during the war years,” she said in 1988, describing the late MacNabb as “an intelligent young man.”
She recalled, “It was difficult during the war. It was hard to get paper to begin with.” Ink was also rationed. A small staff of no more than five put out the newspaper.
"We did everything ourselves,” Parrott remembered. Wiley Long was among the employees during those years. The paper achieved renown from others in the newspaper field under MacNabb’s leadership. The Herald received several awards from the Georgia Press Association, including first place for best editorial and best news coverage in 1944.
The Newnan Herald had been born in the aftermath of one war and entered a new era as World War II came to a close. In October 1946, the Herald was acquired from MacNabb by Evan W. Thomasson and James J. Thomasson, publishers of the Newnan Times. The two papers were published separately for about a year before they were combined as The Times-Herald. Today the paper is owned and operated by James J. Thomasson’s son, Billy Thomasson. – By Winston Skinner, Assistant News Editor.
1865 — On Sept. 9, 1865, The Newnan Herald's first issue is published by lawyers J. S. Bigby and J. C. Wootten as a sideline. The four-page weekly cost $3 per year in advance and came out on Saturday. It was the first post-Civil War newspaper started in Georgia. Soon after, Bigby — who became active in local politics — sold his interest to James A. Welch.
1886-1887 — After the deaths of Welch and Wootten, The Herald is edited by A. B. Cates, a Tennessee native and Confederate veteran. In 1886 or 1887 it is merged with the rival Coweta Advertiser, which had been published by First Methodist pastor, W. W. Wadsworth.
1887 — James E. Brown, who was editor of the Advertiser in 1886 — after almost 10 years at the Henry County Weekly which he founded — becomes editor of the merged Herald and Advertiser.
1912 — Brown sells the Herald and Advertiser to Rhodes McPhail, but the arrangement does not last and Brown returns with Ellis M. Carpenter as assistant.
1915 — The Herald and Advertiser absorbs another rival, the Newnan News, and the paper again becomes known as the Newnan Herald.
1928 — Oren William Passavant, who had been editor of the Herald and Advertiser in 1911-1912 in Brown's absence, purchases the paper on Brown's retirement. Passavant has been one of several business managers during Brown's tenure, as were Edgar T. Whatley and Thomas S. Parrott.
1936 — Passavant sells the paper to Hanson G. Ford. During the four years he operated the Herald, Ford's wife Dorothy Gardner Ford, a descendant of the Cole family, took an active role in the newspaper.
— Also in 1936, Evan W. Thomasson and his son James J. Thomasson start the rival Newnan Times.
1940 — Ford sells the Newnan Herald to George W. MacNabb and Victor D. Armstrong. Armstrong soon leaves to serve in the armed forces, and MacNabb continues as editor and business manager.
WWII — The war years are difficult for everyone, including newspapers. A small staff of no more than five put out the Newnan Herald, according to memories from Sarah Parrott. Newsprint and ink are rationed.
1944 — The Newnan Herald achieves renown — receiving several Georgia Press Association awards including first place for best editorial and best news coverage in 1944.
1946 — The Newnan Herald is acquired in October 1946 by the Thomassons, who publish the Herald and Times separately for another year.
1947 — On Dec. 24, 1947, the first edition of the combined newspaper, The Newnan Times-Herald, is published.
— Also, Times-Herald owners E. W. and James Thomasson with Dan Manget Sr. start Newnan's first radio station, WCOH (Welcome City of Homes). WCOH signs on the air Dec. 6, 1947.
1964 — The Times-Herald is one of the first newspapers in Georgia to switch to offset printing to allow more pictures and greater use of color.
1965 — The Times-Herald celebrates the paper's 100th birthday with publication of the "Centennial Magazine," a review of the county's communities, businesses and history.
1966 — The Times-Herald operation moves to the present offices at 16 Jefferson St. Printing is switched from a 12-page capacity Fairchild News King offset press to a new 16-page King offset press.
1972 — James and Evan Thomasson are honored by Georgia Press Association for 50 years of service in the newspaper industry.
1979 — After the death of his father, James Thomasson, son William W. "Billy" Thomasson continues to operate The Times-Herald along with his mother, Ida Thomasson, and wife, Marianne. Grandfather Evan Thomasson remained an active part of The Times-Herald into his 90s. Ida Thomasson died in 1981, and "Mr. E. W." as everyone knew him, died in 1983.
1985 — June 4, The Times-Herald begins twice-a-week publication with a new Tuesday edition joining the long-time Thursday edition.
1987 — On May 7, The Newnan Times-Herald Inc. becomes an associate member of The Associated Press.
1988 — The Times-Herald completes a year-long renovation of its 1914- era building, moving the news department and business offices to the second floor and revamping the lobby and production departments downstairs.
1991 — The switch to Wednesday/Saturday publication is made Oct. 2.
1996 — In April, The Times-Herald is among the first five newspapers in Georgia to appear on-line with the startup of a web site, newnan.com.
—Facing the challenges of growth in Newnan and Coweta County, the Thomassons bring in a new publisher to The Times-Herald, Sam Jones, in November 1996. Jones comes to Newnan after 18 years at the daily Columbus Ledger-Enquirer.
1997 — March 18, Times-Herald begins establishing a home delivery circulation system.
—News Channel 9, a cable channel presented by The Times-Herald in cooperation with Newnan Utilities cable TV system, goes on-line with live coverage of the local school sales tax referendum in spring 1997; and the operation begins regular news programming in mid-April 1997 with a temporary studio in the building's break room.
—July 10-16, 1997, the press is moved to 23 Andrews St. to consolidate printing and circulation operations.
—Announcement is made Aug. 2 that The Times-Herald will begin six-day- a-week publication in October.
— The Times-Herald moved its on-line content to times-herald.com in August.
—"Good Morning, Coweta!" greets subscribers as the daily Times-Herald rolls off the press for the first time Oct. 1, 1997.
1999 — The first floor of the Times-Herald building on Jefferson Street gets a make-over. Space that since the 1960s served as the pressroom is transformed into offices and work stations for the retail advertising and graphics departments. What had housed the graphics department makes way for classified advertising work stations and manager's office, and a new television production studio and office space for the paper's cable TV operation News Channel 9.
— At the 1999 Georgia Press Association convention The Times-Herald wins the top General Excellence award in its division for its first full year as a small daily.
2000 — Continued equipment improvements include the upgrading of production and business office computer systems and networking.
—The Times-Herald takes second place in the National Newspaper Association's fourth annual Best of the States awards for daily newspapers less than 10,000 circulation.
— On Sept. 11, The Times-Herald adds a Monday edition becoming a seven-day-a-week daily newspaper.
2001 — Press capacity at the printing facility on Andrews Street is upgraded to allow the printing of two extra color pages in each newspaper section, providing the option for more color pictures for news columns and the availability of color for The Times-Herald's advertisers.
2003 — In spring and summer 2003, The Times-Herald adds a new color unit to its press facilities on Andrews Street to expand color printing capacity, as well as a new paper folding unit on the press. The new equipment allows more pages inside the paper to have full process color photos and advertisements.
—Sept. 24, 2003, the first section is printed after the switch to the smaller 50-inch "web" newsprint size. The first edition in the smaller format, with some design changes, is debuted Friday, Sept. 26, 2003.
2005 — On Feb. 18, 2005, it was announced The Times-Herald had purchased Newnan-Coweta Magazine from Chad and Monica Watkins. Longtime newspaper staff member Angela Webster was named editor of the magazine.
— September 2005, The Times-Herald adds two four-color press units manufactured by Web Press Corporation.
2006 — The newspaper's former popular summer Newcomers' Guide is transformed, published in August in a magazine format as "Coweta Living."
2007 — The Times-Herald marks its 142nd birthday on September 9 with a paid circulation of about 12,700.
2008 — July brings the move of The Times-Herald production facilities from Andrews Street to Newnan South Industrial Park off U.S. HIghway 29 South. The July 14, 2008, edition is the first printed at the new building.
— A revamped version of The Times-Herald online at timesherald.com debuts with a new look and increased content. Technological improvements allow submission of print subscription payments as well as classified advertising via the website. Customer interaction with stories and opinions begins with moderated reader “comments” and the daily “QuickVote.” Times-Herald.com adds a digital version of special sections produced by The Times-Herald such as the annual Football Preview, High School Honors Days, Vision, Year In Review, Bridal and Health Connection.
2009 — The mobile version — m.times-herald.com — is introduced for readers to get their news, sports, opinion, etc., on the go from anywhere with a web-enabled mobile phone.
2010 — An electronic direct-to-plate system replaces the process of sending pages first to film that required chemical developing. Completed pages are now converted to PDF documents and transmitted electronically from the offices at 16 Jefferson Street to the newspaper’s printing facilities in Newnan South Industrial Park.
2011 — In June, Georgia Press Association names James Thomasson posthumously to the Georgia Newspaper Hall of Fame. At the same meeting on Jekyll Island, newspaper owner William W. “Billy” Thomasson is honored for 50 years in the newspaper industry.
— In July, a new and improved website photo gallery at www.times-herald.com is launched through MyCapture, offering more options for photographs and products.
— On Sept. 9, 2011, the newspaper changes its masthead to read The Newnan Times-Herald — the name used by the newspaper for many years before it began daily publication. A new digital edition, created in conjunction with Tecnavia Press and with new program features, is rolled out at www.times-herald. com.
2012 – On April 16, the newspaper began five-day a week publication. Following a trend in the newspaper industry, The Newnan Times-Herald began publishing from Wednesday-Sunday. In the announcement by Sam Jones, publisher, and William W. Thomasson, president, a commitment was made to update the website with breaking news on Mondays and Tuesdays and to incorporate popular Monday-Tuesday features in the newspaper on other days of the week.