By Jan Sparkman
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — E.C. Linney purchased The Mountain Echo in March of 1904 from Russell and Will Dyche, but kept it for less than eight months. He sold his interest in the paper “to others associated with him” according to Russell Dyche in “Laurel County History.” These associates seem to have been L. B. McHargue and D. C. Edwards and they hired J.W. Stevenson (who already worked on The Mountain Echo) to run things.
Dyche writes: “Mr. Stevenson remained the head of the Echo throughout the hectic days of the Bull Moose – Standpat Republican campaign and until . . . Judge Geo. C. Moore secured control through re-organization. At that time Mr. Stevenson went with The London Sentinel, which had been established in 1907 with Russell Dyche as editor.”
The London Sentinel consolidated with The Mountain Echo that same year and became known as The Sentinel-Echo with Russell Dyche as junior partner, editor and manager. Other partners were Wm. Lewis, Hiram J. Johnson and Geo. C. Moore. Dyche goes on to say: “Within a couple years, control was with the editor and soon it was individually owned by Russell Dyche, who had his brother, Will H. Dyche, as an associate. A.R. Dyche resumed the editorship on Jan. 14, 1915, and continued as editor some years.”
The Dyche family continued to own The Sentinel-Echo up until recent times – long past the era that I plan to cover in this column. Russell’s son, Martin, ran the paper for many years and was succeeded by his daughter, Margaret Keith, and her husband, Luke. The Keiths sold The Sentinel-Echo to Al Smith in 1981, who sold it to Roy H. Park of Park Communications Inc. in 1985. It changed hands two more times before the present owners, Community Newspaper Holdings Inc. (CNHI), one of the largest newspaper companies in America, acquired The Sentinel-Echo in 1998.
The editor/publisher of a newspaper has a grave responsibility to his readers to report the news clearly and factually. Editorially, most of them push their own political and social agendas. Russell Dyche was an admitted Republican, but at the time he ran the paper, so was almost every other voter in Laurel County. One would have to assume that he represented the majority of his readers well in his time. Today, if he wanted to fairly represent all his subscribers, he might have to modernize his viewpoint along with his equipment.
There are those who believe that newspapering gets in your blood and certainly that blood seems to have coursed through the veins of the Dyche family. Laurel County owes them a debt. Without their tenacity in gathering and printing the news, much of the history of our county would have been lost. And that would be a shame.
The Laurel County Historical Society has in its library a copy of Dyche’s book as well as many old and crumbling copies of the actual newspapers. Come check us out.
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The historical society is still seeking interviews with Laurel Countians who are over the age of 80 who would be willing to leave a record of their life in the society’s archives. Subjects are only asked to answer a few questions about their childhood and youth and their connection to Laurel County.
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The Laurel County Historical Society is located at 310 W. 3rd St., London, (formerly the Laurel County Health Department). The library is open on Mondays and Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. until 12 noon. For further information, contact 606-864-0607 during library hours, or 606-224-3767 at other times. Email the society at firstname.lastname@example.org or Jan Sparkman at email@example.com.