The Carlisle Independent, based in Carlisle (Lonoke County), began in 1905 under Thomas P. Young. Young worked as publisher and editor, issuing the paper once a week on Thursdays. For the first few years, the Independent was non-political, printing news about Carlisle and the surrounding communities.
In 1907, Ernest Ellis took over the Independent, changing it to a Democratic paper. Jewel Lester Matthews Sr. took over in 1914 and ran the Independent for two years before turning it over to Clifford R. Griffin. Griffin also ran the paper for two years and then sold it to Edward M. Williams in 1918. Williams stayed with the Independent for several years, using his extensive newspaper experience to promote the welfare of Carlisle.
Williams’s father, M. R. Williams, was also a newspaper publisher. He ran the Salisbury Press-Spectator in Missouri, where Edward Williams and his brothers C. C. Williams and Thomas Williams learned the newspaper business. After learning the trade, Edward Williams moved to Arkansas City (Desha County) and published the New Enterprise with John W. Davis. Williams’s next paper was in Indian Territory (now Oklahoma) at Afton, where he founded the Afton Advance with C. C. Williams in 1896. Edward Williams moved back to Missouri and founded another newspaper before returning to Arkansas. He first lived in Stuttgart (Arkansas County), where he published the Free Press with his brother Thomas. Edward Williams worked on that paper for several years before moving to Carlisle and buying the Independent, whose circulation increased.
In 1963, Cone Magie and Betty Magie purchased the Independent. The Magie family owned several newspapers in the area, operating under Magie Enterprises, Inc. In 2006, they sold their company, including the Carlisle Independent, to the Stephens Media Group.
In 2017, the Carlisle Independent merged with the Cabot Star-Herald and the Lonoke Democrat to become the Lonoke County Democrat. In 2018, the Lonoke County Democrat ceased publication.
For additional information:
Allsopp, Frederick W. History of the Arkansas Press for a Hundred Years and More. Little Rock: Parke-Harper Publishing Co., 1922.
Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Central Arkansas. Chicago: Goodspeed Publishing Co., 1889.
Dougan, Michael B. Community Diaries: Arkansas Newspapering, 1819–2002. Little Rock: August House, 2003.
Staff of the Arkansas Digital Newspaper Project
Arkansas State Archives
A version of this entry was initially published on both the website of the Arkansas State Archives and the Library of Congress’s Chronicling America project and is used here with permission.
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