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California Democrat

(Est. 1858)

The California Democrat is the historic publication of record for California and surrounding areas of Moniteau County.  Started as The Weekly California News in September 1858, the newspaper still publishes weekly.


From the 1889 Goodspeed's History of Moniteau. . . Counties, Missouri:

The News was established September 18, 1858, as the pioneer journal of the county, by C. P. Anderson and Charles Groll. Edmund Burke, a member of the bar of this judicial circuit, having received a receipt for his subscription under that date, has kept a copy of every paper issued at California since 1858. About the year 1860 the title Democrat was used, for an April 25, 1861, the editor of the Democrat was ordered to stop sending his secession paper by a member of residents of High Point. In a small one-page issue of this paper, July 20, 1861, Editor Anderson relates that five privates and two officers of the 200 United State troops, who entered the town on the 14th, destroyed his office, leaving himself to escape. The Democrat was a very bitter sheet during the early days of the war. The files of the paper do not show any numbers issued from July 20, 1861 to November 8, 1862, when Anderson contents himself with the general news of the war, and a mild political review.


On July 18, 1863, the Democrat resumed publication after a two and one-half months' rest. The editor was under arrest by the military part of the time and "under the weather" for an equal part. The California News was sold May 27th by C. P. Anderson & Sons, but continued publication until June 1, 1865.


The Central Missourian was the new name given the old paper by the Andersons July 15, 1865. J. H. and J. G. Anderson became proprietors December 14, 1867, and in May, 1868, the journal was printed on paper manufactured at Finke & Buchanan's paper-mill, and continued regular publication until 1869, when the owners moved to Columbia to establish the Herald.


The Moniteau County Democrat was issued January 22, 1870, by F. D. Adams & Co., with Mr. Adams, editor. On December 9, 1871, J. D. Adams issued his valedictory as editor, and Browder & Atkins issued their salutatory. J. A. Browder sold the Democrat office to J. H. and W. M. Anderson June 13, 1872, having on December 28 of the previous year changed the name to California Democrat.


On April 20, 1882, A. V. Thorpe, who succeeded J. H. Anderson, issued his valedictory after conducting the paper for eight months. On the same day Otto Schmidt became the owner, and Thomas Cummings was continued as local editor. On May 3, 1883, Otto Schmidt retired. On May 10, 1883, John B. Wolfe, the present [1889] owner and editor, issued his salutatory. For the last twenty years Mr. Cummings has been connected with this journal.



From the 2000 History of Moniteau County:

The newspaper began as The Weekly California News, first published September 18, 1858. Two years later The California News became the California Democrat. The first publishers were C. P. Anderson and Charles Groll.


An interesting sidelight: At one time during the Civil War, Anderson was thrown in jail in Tipton because of being anti-Union.


J. B. Wolfe purchased the Democrat May 5, 1883, and served as editor for 42 years until he sold it to Marvin H. Crawford in April 1925.


At the time Crawford purchased the Democrat, another newspaper, the Moniteau County Herald, also served the area. When the Herald went up for sale in 1947, Crawford purchased it and ran it as a separate entity for a number of years before merging the two newspapers and retiring the Herald name.


Crawford died unexpectedly in 1953 and was succeeded by his son, Jack P. Crawford, who was a member of the U.S. Coast Guard at the time of his father's death and received an emergency discharge to return home to take charge of the newspaper.


After a year, Jack Crawford decided the building, then occupied by the Democrat near the Moniteau County Courthouse, was too small (19 feet wide by 90 feet deep) to accommodate the modernization changes he wanted to make. A new building was constructed and added to over a period of years at the current location of the Democrat, 319 S. High St.


In March 1979, the Sedalia Democrat Company purchased the Democrat from Crawford and his wife, Marianne. Crawford stayed for a time to aid in the transition, and his wife remained as a columnist and general reporter.


Thompson Publications purchased the Sedalia Democrat and the California Democrat in 1985 and operated it until November 1995 when the business was sold to another chain, Freedom Publications based in the state of California.


The California Democrat returned to independent ownership on October 1, 1997, when it became a member of the Central Missouri family of newspapers anchored by the Jefferson City News Tribune and owned by Mrs. William H. Weldon.


Almost immediately, major remodeling of the building was undertaken and computer equipment was upgraded. Efforts also began immediately to expand news and sports coverage to be more thorough and to include more of Moniteau County.



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