Sharon Dodd Griffin, daughter of long time Greenwood Democrat Editor Earl Dodd, was the keynote speaker at the August meeting of the South Sebastian County Historical Society. Dodd spoke about the paper that her father worked at the paper for 36 years.
Dodd was hired as a reporter right out of high school in 1933 and worked for Means Wilkinson, the publisher. Two years later Dood became the Editor and operated the paper until his retirement in December of 1971.
“When I was asked to give a talk about the history of the Greenwood Democrat, I was sort of reluctant. But then I thought, this is something I love so I can do that,” said Griffin.
“Upon researching the paper, I thought it was interesting about how many newspapers that were in Greenwood before the Democrat”.
The first newspaper in Greenwood was established in 1872, 20 years after GWD was incorporated as a town and the population in 1860 was only 200 people. The paper was named the Argus and was published by W.T.Powell. He was a former reporter in Fort Smith. He was unsuccessful in Greenwood and died a few years later in Memphis of yellow fever.
In 1873 Powell sold the paper to J.H.McClure and Company in 1873. he partnered with two other men and changed the name to “The Standard"
McClure and company sold the paper to Allison Meader. He lasted a little longer than McClure, but moved to Waldron and the town was without a newspaper until 1881. When W.W.Woods began publishing the paper as The Western World. It was also unsuccessful and he sold it to Leake and Lyles.
In 1882 the fire was destroyed by fire. The fire also destroyed the building that was being used as a courthouse since the burning of the former courthouse. Leake sold it and the new owners called it The Greenwood Times.
In 1886,the honorable P.W.McFarlain bought the newspaper and then sold it to H.T. Hampton. Hampton changed the name to The Greenwood Democrat.
The paper was sold again in 1907 to Leon Westmoreland. But in 1910, Westmoreland gave way to M.A. Dodd, who was an Uncle to Earl Dodd, the longest publisher, and editor of the Greenwood Democrat.
L.M. Redwine and Rice Gaines established the Greenwood Register in May of 1911. After further changes in ownership the paper was purchased by C.E. Gray and on January 1, 1915 Gray established The Greenwood Democrat.
Gray sold the Democrat to J.T. Spears and J.G. Whitten, who operated the paper until the early 1920,s. Harry N. Brandel edited and published the paper from 1928 to 1933.
In 1933, a local businessman purchased the newspaper from Mr. Brendelf. His name was Means Wilkinson. Wilkinson hired Dodd and “Thus begins the longest association with the Greenwood Democrat,” said Griffin. “Earl loved writing and began his column Dishing the Dirt Around the Square.”
A highlight in Earls career came in 1936, when he traveled on dirt roads to Hot Springs to see President Franklin D, Roosevelt in a parade, celebrating Ark 100 years as a state. He was able to get close enough to the president's car to take a great picture with his old brownie camera. “He hollered at him; hey Mr. President,” said Griffin. “Right when he snapped his camera the Secret Service men began to advance towards him, so he quickly departed the area, but
not before her snapped a great picture.
The Democrat survived World War II despite the loss of many employees to the war effort and won an award from the VFW for supporting service men by mailing them a newspaper wherever they were.
A fire started in the theater, located next door the newspaper office and spread rapidly
destroying the building housing the Democrat. Completely. “Everything was destroyed,” said Griffin. “Cameras. A brand new Kluge press, a Babcock press and the darkroom, everything.” The paper continued. But Dodd said that he had put so much into the paper, he just didn't have the heart or energy to start from scratch. The cost of equipment changed too much to continue in the manner the paper deserved. The Dodds sold the paper to John Guion of Paris, who owned the Paris Express. Mr Dodd continued as the editor until his retirement.
In June of 1997, the Greenwood Democrat was bought by a group of Ohio investors who
acquired 50 newspapers and shoppers in the transaction. The new company was called
Westward Communications LLC.
In March of 2000 the paper was purchased by The Donrey Media Group, owned by Donald W.
Reynolds, parent company of the Times Record. Mr. Reynolds died in 1993 at the age of 86.
later, Donrey was sold to the Stephens Media Group of little Rock, AR.
In March 2015, New Media Investment Group acquired the assets of Stephens Media and
became a member of Gate House Media .
“I have always loved the Greenwood Democrat,” said Griffin. “I was so proud to be the daughter of the owner/editor/publisher.”