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Sullivan Daily Times History


The history behind the Sullivan Daily Times

The Sullivan Daily Times – the only daily newspaper in Sullivan County, Indiana – was established by Paul Poynter in 1905 as the daily edition of his weekly newspaper, the Sullivan Democrat. The Democrat, born in 1854 a year after Sullivan was incorporated as a town, had been published by its founder Murray Briggs for 42 years.

In 1897, Poynter, a Putnam County native who just had been graduated from DePauw College, bought the Democrat from the Briggs estate with money he’d earned as business manager of the DePauw student newspaper.

Poynter was a very active acquirer and originator of newspapers. He bought or started newspapers in Kokomo, Bedford, Franklin and other Indiana towns. He ventured to Florida in the first boom and bought the daily newspaper — the St. Petersburg Times — in the little backwater fishing village the same day in 1912 that he rolled into town.

His son Nelson, who started his career as a young man reporting courthouse news in Sullivan, later turned the St. Petersburg paper into one of the most-respected newspapers in America. In time, Paul Poynter’s wife, Alice Wilkey Poynter, and daughter Eleanor Poynter Jamison acquired the Times from him. Jamison became general manager in 1933 and served as publisher from her father’s death in 1950 until 1972.

She was the first woman to serve on the board of directors of the Hoosier State Press Association and became the first woman president of the Indiana Democratic Editorial Association. Her father previously held that office. Later, Dan Parker, her son-in-law, would hold the office, too.

In 1954, Jamison purchased the Sullivan Union – a Republican weekly that dated from the Civil War era. Its publisher, long-time friendly rival Robert P. White who had run the Union for over 50 years, was in ill health and asked his old friend’s daughter to take over his paper. The Sullivan Union was published until November 1988; the Sullivan Democrat was retired earlier in 1964.

Sullivan’s Arthur McGuire was an early, long-lived Times editor. Other editors from the mid-1930s to 1950 were Joe Adams, Bryant Allen and Homer Murray. Another Sullivan native, Bob Brown, then took over. He died in 1954. Two Lawrence County natives, Bill Beeman and Parker, were successive editors until 1972. Among other invaluable staff members during this period were Katherine Burnett, who worked at the Times 60 years; Bill Boles, 45 years; and Roy Shroyer and Leola Jones, 25 years each.

Eleanor Jamison and her daughters, Mary Alice Griffin and Anne Parker, sold their interests in the Sullivan Daily Times and Sullivan Union to Pierce Oil Company Inc., Rex E. Pierce’s Shell Oil jobbership, in 1972.

Changes at the Times took place quickly after Pierce took control of the newspaper. The old “hot metal” press with its Linotype machines and hot tin pots was replaced with a Harris offset press. The editorial staff was beefed up with college journalism graduates; the advertising department was professionalized. The “look” of the paper was modernized with the popular modular layout style as the years progressed.

Pierce died suddenly in May 1981, and the newspaper went to his wife, Sarah Jane Organ Pierce (now Geitz) and his children, Nancy Pierce (now Gettinger) and David Pierce.

Times editors since 1972 have included Gary Smith, Craig Hitchcock, Ann Ferguson, Orland Stanley, Max Jones – who served 10 years, Teresa Exline, Greg Livovich, Rich Azar, Zach Taylor, Tony Orr and Jeff Salyers.

The publishing company purchased two county weeklies, the Dugger Post (1985) from Sandra Laughlin and Farmersburg News (1988) from the Jewett family. They were retired in the early 1990s.

The Times, now under the direction of James Exline and Gillian Kelk, was purchased from Tom P. and Nancy Gettinger in 2015. The Times now publishes Monday through Friday online and is all-mail delivered Monday, Wednesday and Friday with the exception of holidays. It has a full-time staff of 10 people. Up-to-date computer equipment has been in use at the newspaper since 1987 in the business office and since 1989 in the newsroom and composition departments.

The newspaper moved to its current location, 110 N. Main St., Sullivan, at the end of June 2017. In addition to publishing the daily newspaper, the Times also prints envelopes, flyers, pamphlets, etc. for area businesses as well.