Masthead for the Abilene daily Reflector, Vol. XXXII, No. 206. Abilene, Kansas, Thursday Evening, January 2, 1919.

The Abilene Reflector, founded in the latter half of 1883, was an eight-page newspaper published every Thursday. In March 1888, the Reflector became the official paper of Dickinson County, seizing the title from the Abilene Gazette. The Reflector retained this status throughout its tenure. In its own words, the paper was “conducted in the interest of the Democratic party, believing the party in its wisdom in the choice of candidates, from county offices to national, is greater than personal feeling or prejudice.

The founding editors of the Reflector were brothers Berzelius L. Strother and Sidonia K. Strother. In June 1885, S. K. Strother left to join the Kansas City Times. Henry Litts took over his half of ownership and assumed full editorial responsibilities in March 1887 when B. L. Strother retired from the newspaper for health reasons.

On February 23, 1888, the Reflector was purchased by the Reflector Publishing Company consisting of John J. Cooper as president and Richard Waring as business manager. With them, the Reflector began a new Republican Party affiliation. Henry Litts left the paper “regretful because it will reflect Republican and not Democratic doctrine.” The new proprietors cited “the universal demand of republicans in this section of the state for a Republican newspaper at Abilene” and began the “anomalous task of converting a Simon-pure democratic paper into a live, progressive republican journal.” Later that same year, the Strother brothers established a Democratic newspaper in Abilene called the Dickinson County News which claimed to have “a larger circulation than any other weekly in the county.” In fact, the two papers were evenly matched. In 1890, the Republican Reflector circulated only 25 more copies than the Democratic News; in 1893, the News circulated 87 more issues than its rival.

The Reflector had also appeared in a daily edition, the Evening Reflector, beginning May 9, 1887. Within a few months of the purchase of the paper in 1888, both editions changed title: the weekly Abilene Reflector became the Abilene Weekly Reflector beginning on May 3, and the daily Evening Reflector became the Abilene Daily Reflector beginning on May 2.

Reflector Publishing Company

In 1893, these papers were published by the Reflector Publishing Company, an organization including a score of the leading business men of Abilene. This company had a capital stock of $20,000, and ranked among the strongest institutions in the city. The President of the company was John J. Cooper, ex-County Treasurer and one of Dickinson County’s first settlers. The Vice-president was O. L. Moore, of the law firm of Burton & Moore, and one of the leading attorneys of the city. Mr. Moore moved to Dickinson County from West Virginia and taught school in Enterprise and Solomon City, after which he filled the office of County Attorney. He was a prominent Grand Army man and Mason, a fluent speaker and a power in Republican politics. The Secretary and Business Manager, Richard Waring, was another early settler. After moving to Dickinson County, he first resided in Ridge Township. In 1882, he was elected County Clerk and re-elected in 1884 and 1886. He was a member of the Odd Fellows, of the Ancient Order of United Workmen, and was a Knight Templar.

The Managing Editor, Charles M. Harger, was born in Phelps, N. Y., in 1863, and emigrated to Dickinson County in 1880. He had done considerable literary work outside of his paper, and his name appears in the columns of Scribner’s Magazine, The Independent, Youth’s Companion, Frank Leslie’s, etc. He also pleads guilty to having written verses which have appeared in equally good publications, but later claimed to have reformed. He was married in 1889 to Miss Blanche Bradshaw, of Hope, Kansas. They had one child, a daughter.

The Board of Directors included beside the above Homer W. Wilson, a son of Hon. V. P. Wilson, who was foreman of the composing room, and A. W. Rice, one of Abilene’s leading capitalists and President of the Citizens’ Bank. The Reflector is the official paper of the county and did a large book-binding and job-printing business. It is un-compromisingly Republican in its politics, and is the party organ in Dickinson County.

The daily edition absorbed the weekly edition in 1935 and then in 1942 merged with the Abilene Daily Chronicle to become the Abilene Reflector-Chronicle, which continues today.

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