Two Centuries Old and Still Chugging

By: Shawn Moynihan It has seen the War Between the States, the abolition of slavery, Prohibition, two world wars, and decades of comings and goings in Bourbon County, Ky. And still it arrives, every single Wednesday.

The Bourbon County Citizen, Kentucky's oldest paper and one of the oldest continuing paid weeklies in the United States, celebrates its 200th anniversary this fall. Based in Paris and led by 80-year-old Editor/Publisher Genevieve Brannon, it will be the subject of an exhibition at the town's Hopewell Museum, to include such relics as vintage presses, photos, and page fronts dating as far back as its days as the Western Citizen in the early 1800s.

Genevieve's daughter Rebecca Lawyer, the paper's graphic designer, proudly tells E&P the secret to the Citizen's success is "continuous publication. We have not missed a single issue in 200 years."

Surprisingly, for a newspaper serving a small community in its early days (as the Western Citizen before it saw several name changes and mergers), the paper carried news mostly on the nation and the world, rather than events closer to home. "When it first started, it didn't do much local news," says curator Nancy Estes, who is organizing the upcoming exhibit. Besides, she adds, back then "everyone already knew each other's business."

Once a supporter of the Whig Party (led by Kentucky's own Henry Clay), the 11,500-circulation Citizen today leans Democratic -- and shows no signs of stopping.


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