Historical Details

Founder of Lusk Herald Last Paid Visit in 1934

Courtesy of The Lusk Herald, 08/17/1961

One morning in the fall of 1934, while I was plugging away at the Herald Linotype in an effort to get out the weekly edition on time, a graying man with a huge handlebar moustache tapped me on the shoulder and introduced himself as J. K. Calkins, the man who founded The Herald, and was the editor and publisher for about the first year of its existence.

Calkins was over 70 years of age then possessed of a distinguished appearance and was such an interesting conversationalist that I immediately deserted the Linotype and listened to his story of the founding of Lusk and The Herald.

Most of all, he wanted me to help him locate his homestead to the east of Lusk, which he took up and later relinquished. We took most of the next day to trying to locate landmarks that were familiar to him almost 50 years ago but didn't look so familiar today. As near as we could make out, his homestead was in the neighborhood of the Cornet place on Highway 20, or near the present site of the airport. But he said the present highway , the refinery and other buildings which weren't there 75 years ago were so confusing that he wasn't certain of anything.

The next time I saw Calkins was perhaps two or three years later. He had aged perceptibly and appeared to have considerable difficulty remembering things. He had his wife and a small child with him when he came to The Herald office, and by the way of starting conversation said, "I realize I am getting old, but I just wanted to visit The Herald once more before cashing in my chips. You know, of the several newspapers I started in Wyoming, The Herald is the only one that has survived." (Among those he started was the Casper Derrick.)

He explained the presence of the small child by saying that it was his grandson. His son, who was a geologist, was killed by a couple of teenage hitchhikers on one of his field trips, his body thrown in a corn field and wasn't discovered until spring. The only means of identification when the body was found was his initials in the inside of a Scottish Rite Masonic ring. The child was born after it's father's death and the mother hasn't fully recovered from the shock of her husband's tragic death, so he and his wife were going to raise the baby until the mother was able to care for it. This family tragedy no doubt contributed greatly to his physical and mental decline in the last few years. The murdered of his son were never apprehended.

As to the founding of The Herald, let Mr. Calkins tell his own story as he wrote it for the 50th anniversary edition of The Herald in 1936:


Established May 20th, 1886 By J.K. Calkins

THE LUSK HERALD was fifty years old on Wednesday, May 20, 1936-having been published continuously since May 20, 1886, when it was established in a tent in the old town of Silver Cliff by J.K. Calkins. After the boom incident to the coming of the railroad had subsided, or in less than a year from the day of its first publication, Mr. Calkins sold The Herald to James E. Mayes, who was his typesetter, and Mr. Mayes continued to run it until he sold it to Mr. and Mrs. G. C. Forsythe in 1914. At the beginning of the oil boom in 1919, Boyd Burrowes, who had been a theatrical man on the road, but whose tent show had been swept away by a tornado, was temporarily employed as a clerk in the Snyder store. Believing that Lusk should have a more up-to-date newspaper than was being issued, he induced the late Martin C. Agnew and Ralph Olinger to buy out the Forsythes, and organize a stock company, buy new equipment and install a modern printing press. Things went along fine for a while and The Herald did a fine business. Within a short time, the boom subsided, and Mr. Agnew passed away, leaving Burrowes and Mr. Olinger to manage the destinies of The Herald. Things were not coming fast enough for Burrowes, and he decided to seek greener fields. Accordingly, Mrs. Agnew took active charge of the newspaper, and she and Mr. Olinger continued to run it, until Mrs. Agnew's marriage in April of 1926 to J.R. Griffith. Then Griffith acquired Mr. Olinger's interest, and the Griffiths run the paper today as a co-partnership, the other stock-holders having been bought out and the corporation dissolved. This briefly, is the history of The Lusk Herald. Throughout the years it has continued publication under its original name, which makes it the oldest newspaper in Wyoming. There are older ones but they have lost their identity by merging with other papers- the Cheyenne Tribune absorbed by the Sun and the Leader, the Laramie Boomerang was absorbed by the Laramie Republican, and others established earlier have long since passed into oblivion. The Herald has been published in a Territory, a State, and three counties, but has never changed its
place of publication. When it first saw the light of day, Wyoming was a Territory, Lusk was in Laramie County, with Cheyenne as the county seat; later, Lusk was in Converse county, and then in Niobrara County.

Grover Cleveland was president of the United States when The Herald was established. Since that time it has lived under the administrations of Benjamin Harrison, another Cleveland administration, two terms of William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, two terms of Woodrow Wilson, then Harding, Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, and Franklin D. Roosevelt.

The Herald has seen the coming of the radio, wireless telegraphy, the phonograph, the automobile, X-Ray, Linotype and rotary presses, airplanes, submarines, and will probably witness the perfection of television.

So much romance was connected with the first issue of The Herald by Editor Calkins, that we publish his interesting article in connection therewith:

(Continued in Part 2)

(From The Wyoming Newspaper Project)

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Related/Linked Records

Record Type Name
Obituary Olinger, Ralph (05/20/1885 - 02/06/1965) View Record