Hogg’s short-lived ‘Longview News’ set the pace for city

The future Texas Gov. James S. Hogg founded the Longview News in the fall of 1871.

Hogg was only 20 when he selected Longview as the site of his tri-weekly newspaper, the Longview News. It was a tiny publication, about the size of a sheet of notebook paper. But the ideals and goals he expressed through its pages became the ideals and goals of the city itself.

149 years later the challenges he issued to the citizens to make it an industrial city are still being met.

The son of a Confederate general who died during the Civil War and a mother who died before he was 14, Hogg grew up in a family involved in political activity. Sam Houston was a frequent visitor to his home.

His interest in government and his older brother Tom’s affinity for newspapers dovetailed as James Hogg frequented the Texas Observer office in Rusk during the 1866 election campaigns. The publisher “took a liking” to him and suggested he learn to set type.

Hogg’s biographer, Robert C. Cotner, states that, “By his sixteenth birthday in the spring of 1867, Jim had acquired both a capacity for careful attention to his job and an eager interest in mastering the printing trade.”

He was shortly after that to journey to Cleburne to work briefly on the Chronicle there and later to Quitman where he set type for the Clipper.

Underlying his interest in publishing was the desire to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a lawyer, a position in life which his father had ably filled.

Legal careers and political office often going hand in hand, they seemed most often most often gained through the “Fourth Estate.”

He decided to take a job on the Tyler Democrat and there became close friends of Horace Chilton, two years younger but also a believer in the opportunities a newspaper offered. Chilton also had ambitions to study law.

Before 1871 ended the 18-year-old Chilton had started the tri-weekly sun in Tyler and Hogg, 20, was publisher of the News in Longview.

In selecting Longview, Hogg had kept in mind that cotton crops being moved to the railhead assured money being in circulation during the months in which he hoped to get the paper started, the fall.

Hogg’s plan had the backing of his entire family. Tom Hogg had already started a newspaper and now hoped to move to Rusk and run for justice of the peace. By selling more of the family land there would be money to finance his expansion as well as James Hogg’s new venture.

His widowed sister, Martha Frances Davis, came to Longview to help him with the newspaper, sifting the exchanges and writing some of the editorial matter, while James Hogg “attended to circulation building and the mechanics of printing.”

The first issue of the News came out in October and the subscription rates were announced as $5 a year, $2.75 for six months and 50 cents per month for the thrice-weekly publication.

Ambition was a part of Hogg’s fiber and he was no sooner in business than he was reaching out to wider fields. His advertising list soon included clients from as far afield as Galveston and Jefferson.

“The venture was profitable from the outset,” Cotner states.

James and Thomas Hogg used their papers to press embarrassing charges against the Davis administration and all Radicals although the Marshall editor, Major Hearsey, at the helm of the East Texas Bulletin, had been arrested and fined by Radical officials.

Hogg’s reputation as a courageous and able newspaperman spread and it was only a matter of months before a delegation from Quitman visited him, urging him to move to their town.

They had seen his strong stands for civic improvement and education and liked his views on the railroads.

Hogg had urged Longview citizens to support the work of Professor John T. Kennedy in establishing a school by writing, “Nothing will do more to build up Longview and make it a desirable town to live in than good educational facilities.”

Hogg had already been looking at equipment in Marshall in plans of expanding his Longview paper and, at the urging of the Quitman delegation, bought the equipment.

On Christmas morning of 1871, Hogg loaded a borrowed wagon with his goods and set about moving his newspaper to Quitman.

His stay in Longview was short, but its effect long-lasting.

He would continue another two years in the newspaper business before entering the race for justice of the peace of Wood County in 1873 and beginning a political career climaxed by his election as the first native-born governor of Texas in 1890.