Log Cabin Democrat

The city of Conway (Faulkner County) was incorporated in 1875 and became the county seat and a well-known center of education in central Arkansas. It is home to Hendrix College and surrounding historic district, the University of Central Arkansas (UCA), and Central Baptist College. Throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, Conway’s population skyrocketed, making it the eighth most populous city in Arkansas at the time of the 2020 federal census. One of its most enduring institutions is its newspaper, the Log Cabin Democrat. The newspaper has existed throughout the history of the city and continues to be printed in the twenty-first century, making it the longest-running publication in Conway.

After the Arkansas General Assembly created Faulkner County in 1873, Abel F. Livingston, an Illinois native, came to the area and was appointed county commissioner. In 1879, he established the Log Cabin (1879–188?), a newspaper with Republican Party leanings. A former Whig, Livingston chose the newspaper’s name in part in reference to the log cabin in Sanford Faulkner’s story of the Arkansas Traveler and in part after the Whig political party symbol.

In the 1880s and 1890s, the newspaper changed ownership several times before John W. Underhill assumed full control of the paper in the late 1890s and changed its name to the Conway Log Cabin (189?–1901). Underhill’s Conway Printing Company published the Cabin, along with other local Conway newspapers. Originally Republican in its political views, the newspaper had become Democratic by the time Underhill first took control of it in the 1880s. The Conway Log Cabin focused on local and national news with a “News of the World” section and covered the placement of the cornerstone of the new Arkansas State Capitol on November 17, 1900. On June 19, 1900, a fire destroyed the Conway Printing Company plant, including the equipment used to publish the Conway Log Cabin and the Conway Democrat (1888–1901). The publishing company recovered quickly and bought new supplies in St. Louis, Missouri.

In September 1901, the Conway Log Cabin and the Conway Democrat consolidated into the weekly Log Cabin Democrat (1901–1982). After Underhill died in 1906, his stepson Francis Edward (Frank) Robins Sr. became the editor and later bought the plant. The Robins family was involved with the newspaper for five generations. On September 14, 1908, Robins began publishing a daily edition of the Log Cabin Democrat (1908–current) on the day that the state’s new Arkansas State Normal School (now UCA) opened. This daily edition is published to this day. Both the weekly and daily editions focused on national and international news. The paper covered World War I in great detail and published articles of interest such as “From a Nurse in Warring Germany.” The newspapers also kept up with local and state news, such as the debate the sale of alcohol. The colleges in Conway were of particular interest, including UCA, Hendrix College, and the Central College for Women, the campus of which is now occupied by Central Baptist College.

The daily edition was published six days a week, Sunday excluded, until 1979 when the Saturday issue was dropped in favor of an expanded Sunday edition. The daily edition soon overtook the weekly edition in subscriptions, and the weekly edition ended in 1982. Throughout most of the twentieth century, the newspaper remained in the hands of the Robins family. In 1989, Frank E. Robins III sold half of the interest in the paper to the Stauffer Communications, Inc. In 1994, Robins retired, selling the remaining interest to Morris Communications, Inc., which had purchased the interest formerly owned by Stauffer Communications, Inc. In 1997, the Log Cabin Democrat entered into the world of online publishing, opening its digital edition. The newspaper was later purchased by the Paxton Media Group, which publishes both an online edition and a print edition each day.

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.

Dolan, Doris B. Faulkner County, Its Land and People: Conway, AR: The Society, 1986.

Dougan, Michael B. Community Diaries: Arkansas Newspapering: 1819–2002: Little Rock: August House Publishing Inc., 2003.

Gatewood, Robert L. Faulkner County, Arkansas, 1778–1964. Conway, AR: The Faulkner Press, 1964.

Log Cabin Democrat. https://www.thecabin.net/ (accessed January 25, 2023).

Log Cabin Democrat.” Chronicling America, Library of Congress. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn89051194/ (accessed January 25, 2023).

Arkansas State Digital Newspaper Project
Arkansas State Archives

A version of this entry was initially published on the website of Chronicling America and is used here with permission.


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