There were several remarks delivered by Marc Houseman Saturday at ECC to open Franklin County’s bicentennial observance that certainly are worth repeating.
He mentioned a local historian, the late Ralph Gregory, who “took a scientific approach to history.” Ralph told Marc “no one should ever print anything as fact unless you can prove it three times over.” Ralph contributed much to detailing the history of the county in his newspaper articles and books.
One of the sources Ralph used in his many historical writings was old newspapers. He had assembled many copies of old newspapers, many dating to the 1800s. He also researched old county and municipal records. He was tireless in his quest for accuracy in everything he wrote.
One other remark that Houseman attributed to Gregory was about Franklin County. “We live in one of the richest historical regions in the United States.” Gregory visited The Missourian office weekly for years.
Houseman also mentioned the research by the late Stanley Wilke, who compiled a booklet titled “Washington, Yesterday Through Tomorrow.” Wilke had a weekly column in The Missourian for Washington Savings and Loan that highlighted historical facts about Washington and Franklin County. His research came mostly from old copies of The Missourian and Citizen. For a period, he visited The Missourian office weekly for information for his column, which he later put in his booklet.
We mention the research by the two men to emphasize the history of the times that is in newspapers. It is sad indeed that many communities today are without a newspaper. Much of a community’s history is being lost because they have no newspaper.
Many community newspapers have ceased publishing because of a lack of support from people and businesses. Another reason many newspapers have folded is because of ownership by large corporations, which care only about the bottom line. They don’t care about a community. Staffs are cut and the product no longer serves the community the way it should. Corporations have shut down many newspapers because they have not made enough money and because their penny-pinching has lowered the value of the product, which has resulted in a drop in circulation.
The Missourian is publishing Houseman’s talk because of the historical significance of it. His research uncovered many interesting aspects of Franklin County. When you are trying to cover 200 years of history, it’s no small task. Marc deserves much credit for his historical research. He launched the bicentennial observance to a good height!