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Publication Name:

The Evening Dispatch

Years in print:

1862- 1878


The Dispatch is the oldest evening journal in St. Louis. Long ago Charles G. Ramsey, Esq., published the Evening News. This was in the troublous war times, and Mr. Ramsey, who is a gentleman of great independence and boldness, succeeded in incurring  the ill opinion of the military authorities, which was not particularly advantageous to the interests of the Evening News. The Dispatch had its birth about that time as the lineal and legitimate successor of the Evening News. Messrs. Foy and McHenry conducted the Dispatch for a number of years with marked success. It was eventually sold to other parties – Mr. D. Robert Barclay and Mr. W.H. Swift being of the number. Mr. Swift edited the paper for a brief time, when Mr. D. Robert Barclay, who owned a controlling interest, having formed a new company, became President and Stilson Hutchins manager and chief editor. Like all the newspaper enterprises of that gentleman, the Dispatch proved unsuccessful to his associates as a financial enterprise. The paper was finally offered for sale, and the controlling interest became the property of Mr. W.R. Allison, formerly of Steubenville, Ohio, who conducted the paper as President of the company until the spring of 1878, when the Dispatch was transferred to the Wolcott & Hume Company, proprietors of the Daily Journal. The Dispatch was a newsy paper, devoted to the interests of the National or Greenback party, and the only evening paper belonging to the Western Associated Press.

(From A Tour of St. Louis, Or The Inside Life of a Great City by Joseph A. Dacus and James William Buel, 1878).

In St. Louis, the Evening Dispatch began in 1862 with high hopes. By the time it was sold sixteen years later, all it had to show for the effort was high losses. Over a quarter of a million dollars had gone to keep it alive, $100,000 in its last four years. More than bare survival that money could not deliver. By 1878, only a couple of reporters remained in the office and the books showed less than a thousand subscribers. News gathering depended on theft from the columns from rival papers. Its flatbed press was worn down, its type practically worthless. What killed the Evening Dispatch was not extravagance but penury. No paper could survive "on the cheap and nasty plan," the St. Louis Post explained cheerfully, having just bought up the remains. "The history of journalism in this country shows that while a cheap newspaper always loses money, a newspaper which spends money for news succeeds."

(From The Press Gang - Newspapers and Politics 1865-1878 by Mark Wahlgren Summers, 1994).

When the new proprietor [Mr. Pulitzer] went into the Dispatch office on the morning of the 10th of December [1878] there wasn't a bushel of coal or a roll of white paper. The boiler and engine were held in place for operation by iron bands and strips which had no place in the original construction. Steam heating pipes throughout the building were tied with rags to stop leaks. The old press was badly battered. Mr. Pulitzer looked through the building, pressed into service a few people and that afternoon got out an edition of 1,000 copies.
In 48 hours a consolidation was effected with the Post, one of the best evening papers St. Louis had ever had. 

(From St. Louis, the Fourth City by Walter Barlow Stevens, 1911).

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