Jefferson Jimplecute

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Jefferson Jimplecute

The Jimplecute was one of Marion County's most influential publications, and survives today as Texas's fifth oldest newspaper. It was published by Taylor and Taylor as the Jimplecute from 1900 to 1907, then under the name of the Jefferson Jimplecute from 1907 to 1926. The weekly served primarily the town of Jefferson, but it also circulated throughout northeast Texas and occasionally addressed its contents to nearby communities such as Lockett. The paper's curious name can be traced to two possible sources: 1) a colloquial expression meaning "sweetheart" or 2) a strange mythical creature composed of elements of a dragon, an Indian, an armadillo, and a lion.

During the Jimplecute's early years, Ward Taylor, Jr., and his daughter Marion I. (Miss Birdie) Taylor served as editors and publishers. The Jimplecute employed graphics-based advertising, a practice adopted before 1900 by an earlier namesake, the Jefferson Jimplecute. By 1908, the paper measured 20 x 26 inches, and its circulation rate had reached 1,200 at a price of $1.00 per year. Readers of the Jimplecute could also subscribe to the Dallas Semi-Weekly News. This promotion, which delivered three newspapers a week at a discount rate, likely increased the Jimplecute's circulation.

The Jimplecute allotted roughly the same amount of space to advertising as to journalism, a layout scheme that most editions of the paper (and its succeeding titles) adopted. Approximately half of The Jimplecute's stories were compiled from larger news services. The remainder consisted of local news items, public notices, editorial commentary attached to dispatches from external news services, weather reports, and even editorial recitation of proverbs. Viewed together with the advertisements (often striking in their own right), the Jimplecute documented various aspects of life in Jefferson and the surrounding area during the early part of the twentieth century.

Specific events, issues, and public movements that occupied the Jimplecute's columns include Jefferson's reliance on waterways for commercial traffic; the rivalries with railroad companies and municipalities that emerged out of this reliance; the gathering momentum of the temperance movement; the opening of an opera house; and the fight for schools free of unsafe fire hazards for children "both white and colored." Located in an area dominated by cotton, corn, and cattle, the Jimplecute covered agricultural news in depth, providing advice and analysis regarding weather, the handling of livestock, and the storage of crops.

The Jimplecute's masthead slogan--"Independent in All Things Neutral in Nothing"--suggested the paper's attempts to reflect a non-partisan editorial stance. However, rather than shying away from politically charged coverage, the Jimplecute regularly printed notices, candidacies, and commentary concerning local and national politics. This political content covered everything from Standard Oil scandals associated with Texas Senator Joseph Weldon Bailey to a notice for a local speaking engagement by a candidate for the office of state attorney general. Furthermore, the editorial staff often inserted socio-political commentary into everything from national news updates down to the most pedestrian of local stories.