Editor's Note: With this issue,
the Williamson County Sun enters its 98th year of
continuous publication. The following articles are
self-explanatory, the first was written by the paper's
founder, J. F. Cooper, the second by John M. Sharpe, a
strong and distinguished editor who sold his interests
to the current owner and editor and retired in 1948.
ALL SETTLEMENTS WERE ON
near wood and water and as
many as possible near at least one never-failing spring.
At that time Texas had been a member of the United
States thirty-nine years, and the Democrats in charge of
the State government only two years following the rigors
and hardships of reconstruction, which was under full
headway. Richard Coke was governor with a full cabinet
of Democratic state officials.
THE CONSTITUTION OF 1876
was adopted soon after the
arrival of Cooper and a new order of things was
beginning. The E. J. Davis administration had bequeathed
to the Coke and succeeding administrations a very bad
condition of state affairs. The Davis administration
with its many Negro officers, most of whom had been
former slaves, had not been able to check the reckless
careers of dangerous outlaws who did not fear the Negro
officers, nor respect the lives and property of the good
citizens. The Sun was born in the midst of such
conditions, and it followed the lead of courageous
citizens who gave their time and influence toward making
the county and State a safer and better place in which
The Sun, as of this date,
has been published regularly for sixty-two years not
missing an issue, save now and then a holiday vacation.
It was born on a G. Washington hand press and is now
printed on a modern high-speed power press, driven by
electricity. In its news columns are recorded some of
the stories of some of the greatest scientific
discoveries, mechanical inventions, the rise and fall of
governments and nations, changes in the financial and
economical systems, methods of transportations and
communications, and many other things that have been
brought into being for the advancement, use and benefit
of the human family in the years the Sun has been on the
watchtower for the advancement of Central Texas and the
IN THE SUN'S FILES
may be found literally
thousands of interesting items about occurrences in
Williamson County, the State and Nation. The names of
all county district and State officials, cities and
schools as well as their development through the years.
Marriages, births, deaths, purchases and sale of
property, construction, fires, rains, storms, crops,
droughts, freezes, and all manner of development from
clap-board houses oxen-drawn automobiles, airplanes and
other theretofore undreamed of developments and
improvements that go to make up the progress that
places this county and its people in the front rank of
Texas counties and Texas people.
During the 62 years of The Sun's career it has had seven
editors: J. E. Cooper, founder; Marvin M. McLain, Capt.
F. T. Roche, Dr. John R. Allen, W. W. Jenkins, John M.
Sharpe, Robert W. Cooper — three Presbyterians, three
Methodists and one Episcopalian. These editors used
their intellects and influence through the paper to
elevate and advance the interests of Williamson County
and the State of Texas and some of them were high in the
councils of the Nation.
Thoughts on the Career of a
(By John M. Sharpe.)
The story written by the
Hon. Jesse Eugene Cooper, founder of The Williamson
is interesting to any thoughtful reader, yet, as one
close to din; story, it left unsaid mad,' thing that
should have been revealed..
Mr. Cooper gave breath to
its dream first registered in Ida mind in his war-torn
East Tennessee home, when he launched the Sun and became
its guiding genius in 1875.
I learned to read from the
columns of The Sun as a poor West Williamson County boy
and followed it from that day the remainder of my life.
I became interested in printing and publishing in those
far-off days and located in Georgetown in the late
1900th Year of last century, arriving here on the eve of
the Galveston hurricane which battered the State Sept.
I joined The Sun as
president and general manager of the holding company and
editor in October, 1918 when I purchased the interests
of Dr. John Allen, who had been Mangager the Department
of Romance Languages and manager of "The Annex" Woman's,
Dormitory at Southwestern University for many years,
remaining with the publication untill1949 when I sold my
interests to Don Scarbrough present (1907) owner and
publisher. That much as an explanatory format.
MR. COOPER, a devout
Presbyterian, retiring in nature, would not mention in
his article written on the 39th anniversary of the
publication, he founded personal matter that is of
paramount interest to those interested, in factual
matter. After his arrival in Georgetown he set about
building an interpretative newspaper and bringing
relatives from Tennessee to join him. Of these his
brother, Robert Theodore Cooper, Cooper Sansom, Dee
Sansom, and Italy Watson, the latter three cousins, were
the first arrivals. His brother became interested in
farming and buying, developing and selling cotton
farms in the Blackland Belt from Dallas through
Williamson County to the south; the Sansoms studied and
entered the practice of law and Watson became a
proof-reader and editor in South Texas Daily offices.
Mr. Cooper also found time, in addition to publishing
the paper, to teach school and study law, being admitted
to the bar about 1889. He also served a term in the
legislature, headed movements for the betterment of his
country, including the prohibition movement, the
campaigns of which organizations he headed several
times. It is not passing strange to those who knew him
that he led every fight that ended in victory in the
county save one.
Mr. Cooper was elected president of the First National
Bank of Georgetown first in 1896,
server until 1906, retired until 1913 when he was again
elected and served until 1936.
Mr. Cooper and his family
suffered greatly during the Civil War in East Tennessee,
being robbed of almost all they owned; he frequently
recounted that he had traveled on horseback to carry
food to a kinsman for whom the Union forces occupying
the region were searching. He delivered the food but was
captured by the Yankees before reaching home. They
finally turned him loose, taking his horse and saddle,
to walk home barefoot in a blizzard. Of course he was an
About 1894 Mr. Cooper sold
The Sun to Capt. Frank T. Roche, a Confederate soldier,
who had lost a leg in the cause. He was a Virginian and
had been chief clerk in the Texas General Land Office
for several years. He was an Episcopalian and positive
in his approach to political and personal questions and
appalled by the policies of Reconstruction which had
faded some but did not disappear until the
administration of Pres. Woodrow Wilson who, in so far as
he could, removed the last of the inequities from the
South — however, he succeeded only partially, Capt.
Roche died as the result of a streetcar accident in El
Paso in 1916, after a brilliant battle for the right as
he interoperated the right based on a rugged honesty.
Shortly before his death.
Capt. Roche had been named Postmaster of Georgetown and
had sold The Sun to a group of printers and publishers
headed by Dr. John R. Allen, Methodist minister,
world-traveler, head of the Department of Romance
Languages at Southwestern University for years and
manager for a long period of time of "The Ladies Annex"
A Southwestern University dormitory, later destroyed. He
was a member of the last contingents of Methodists who
believed the Bible literally and preached the certainty
of salvation if Christ was accepted and served, and also
a literal burning hell for the damned.
IN 1918 JOHN M. SHARPE,
bought Dr. Allen's interest
and became executive head of the Sun Publishing Co. and
editor of the Sun. He battled for good government;
reasonable taxes denounced the Ku Klux Klan and won
their hatred and threats including the threat to burn
his home and business, and his family. The Klan was
beaten, many convicted and all has been serene since
that period. Yet the battle for good government, the
majesty of the law and reasonable taxes under just laws
was his shibboleth until he had served his town on three
separate occasions as Mayor and three terms as
He served as a member of
the Executive Committee of Southwestern University
during the trying days of the depression, as secretary
of the Democratic Committee, of Williamson County for
more than twenty years, is an Odd Fellow, a Woodman and
was a Charter member of the Chamber of Commerce and the
Country Club. He early in Iife recognized the value of
irrigation and worked continuously and consistently for
the development of the Colorado and Brazos Rivers,
aiding in arranging the meeting with Congressman
Buchanan at the site of the defaulted effort, to dam the
Colorado at Buchanan Dam and served on the Brazos
Authority until the building of Possum Kingdom Dam.
by Don Scarbrough, 1948
It was in 1948 when the
late John M. Sharpe came to Taylor and offered to sell
me ”control" of the Williamson County Sun. At the time I
was publishing The Taylor Times, and I had recently
bought Elgin Courier, but I was eager to have the
SUN and to bring my young family to Georgetown.
"Control" of the SUN meant
at least 51 per cent of the stock, for at that time the
SUN was a corporation. I received stock owned by Mr.
Sharpe, Donald Barron and Lowrey Foster. Later I bought
the remaining stock owned by Howard Harrison, who moved
to San Saba to buy a newspaper, and from W. Grogan Lord,
who had purchased stock from the Hon. Marsh Smith who
had acquired it through his connection with the Cooper
I was the first person to
own the SUN outright and the first thing I did was
liquidate the corporation. The SUN became a privately
owned concern at that point. About the time this was
happening I sold the Taylor paper to Henry Fox and
disposed of the Elgin paper to a fellow named Hunt.
The SUN was a strong paper
when I bought it. It had a circulation of 3,000, was
democratic to the core and just wild about then Senator
Lyndon B. Johnson who had shown his admiration and
affection for Editor Sharpe in many ways. That Sharpe
would have supported LBJ was a bit strange because in
virtually every other aspect the SUN was a conservative
newspaper and had been since its origination.
Mrs. Scarbrough and I have
now published the SUN for 27 years and we have seen many
changes here. Southwestern University, a main-stay of
the local cultural and economic structure, has been
virtually rebuilt. Of the buildings now standing, only
two were there when I returned to Georgetown. Many old
business establishments, long patronized and cherished
by local folk have vanished from the scene; Many
citizens now would not even recognize the names --
Hoffman and Son, Ben Neuman's, Stromberg Hoffman, Braun
Motor Company, Freund Motor Company, Giddings Grocery,
Farmer's State Bank, Belford Lumber Company, Lundblad
Hardware, Buchholz Variety, Cooper's Corner Drug, The
Toggery, the list goes on and on.
But many have endured, such
as Atkin Furniture Company, Jones Auto Supply, First
National Bank, Citizens State Bank — an outgrowth of
Farmers State Bank, Hodges Drug Store, Gold's Dept.
Store, Georgetown Hospital and Clinic, Hendersons, Three
Way Grain, and others, although the list is growing
The most notable change in
the SUN under the present ownership came nearly a decade
ago when the paper "went offset", a revolutionary
process in printing that permits the reproduction of
pictures with a clarity not possible under the old "hot
type" process. From linotypes the paper went to
photosetters, from a Slow, 3000 per hour press limited
to 8 pages, to a 16 page press that runs 15,000 per
hours. Also a Sunday paper, The Sunday SUN, was begun 1
year ago and at this date appears firmly established.
Circulation of the Sun is now above 5000. Our present
pressrun is 5350, reflecting Georgetown's continued
Since 1877 the SUN had done
"job" printing and during the past fifteen years had
purchased considerable expensive printing equipment,
establishing a flourishing department operating as a
second establishment called Heritage Printers. In 1974
this firm was sold to Mr. and Mrs. John King. King is
also managing editor of the SUN and Sunday SUN.
Under the current ownership
the paper has won many state and regional awards — for
editorials, columns, public service, feature writing,
creative advertising, appearance and news writing.