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Spectator History

The Spectator began its weekly observations of local society happenings, principally, and of theatrical and art matters, secondarily, on September 5, 1880. Captain W.R. Hodges' art criticisms and army reminiscences and an occasional editorial of J.R, Reavis - its editor during several years - were well worth reading. Miss Florence Hayward wrote stories, the irrepressible Colonel Pat Donan sometimes electrified its readers with a correspondence, and "Champe Carter" - Mrs. Fannie Porcher - occasionally contributed a good poem. The Spectator was sometimes illustrated with job cuts, and occasionally expressed literary opinions - but no one took them seriously; it was simply a light society paper. George I. Jones and Company, printers, were the original publishers; after passing through various hands and undergoing a couple of suspensions, The Spectator ended its career in the [eighteen] nineties.
(From the Encyclopedia of the History of Missouri by Alexander N. De Menil, 1901).

On the 18th of September, 1880, John R. Reavis founded The Spectator, a weekly paper, twenty pages in size, devoted to art, society, the drama, literature, and matters of general social interest. Upon the second issue, George I. Jones became associated with Mr. Reavis as publisher, and in April, 1882, a company was incorporated with thirty thousand dollars capital, George I. Jones being chosen president, and John R. Reavis, secretary. Journals of this class had not previously been successful in St. Louis; in fact, The Spectator is the only weekly that ever attained any permanent footing. It is believed that, with the exception of the San Francisco Argonaut, The Spectator is the most successful weekly paper of its kind in America, its circulation being large, and its advertising patronage handsome.
Mr. Reavis, who is still its editor, was born in Cooper County, Mo., in 1848; was educated at the Kentucky University; became part owner of the Lexington (Mo.) Caucasian in 1873; removed to St. Louis in 1875, and joined the staff of the Times, then under the charge of Stilson Hutchins, as a canvasser, and in 1878 was engaged on the Evening Post as a reporter, under John A. Dillon. He remained in that capacity until he founded The Spectator, in the management of which he has exhibited signal ability and tact. Mr. Reavis is a graceful and polished writer, and a frequent and valued contributor to the press of St. Louis.
Mr. Jones, the publisher, is a graduate of Harvard College, and while he devotes himself mainly to the business interests of the paper, often writes for its columns, and always in a logical and effective manner. Mr. Jones is also one of the largest and most enterprising book publishers in St. Louis, and the history of the St. Louis bridge, published by him, is the finest book that has ever issued from a St. Louis press. The success of The Spectator is largely due to his conservative judgment and excellent taste.
The Spectator's corps of writers is large, and its literary character is of a high order. The art department has from the first been conducted by W.R. Hodges, one of the regular contributors to the late American Art Review; while the dramatic department has also from the first been conducted by Henry W. Moore, a recognized authority in dramatic criticism throughout the country. In February, 1883, The Spectator absorbed The Criterion.
(From the History of St. Louis City and County by John Thomas Scharf, 1883.)

“A Paper for the Family,” Encouraged local literary talent and reported on local drama, art, music, society and politics.