A Frontier Editor

“It is the easiest thing in the world to edit and publish a paper on the Frontier,” wrote Mark J. Kelley, editor of The Little Blue (Jenkins Mills) on January 8, 1870. Kelley, who had started the little paper in Jefferson County the preceding August, wrote:

“You don’t have anything to do but set in your office and write your locals and editorials. If you get no mail, make your editorials out of nothing. Should there be no town near you, and you have nothing of local interest to write about, don’t complain, but go to work and make everything out of your imagination. Blow the country, give every man in it a ‘puff’ every time he looks toward your office, and all will set you down as a tip top good fellow. They think that they could not get along without you. If you say you would like to go to such and such a place, everybody will run to you and say: ‘no don’t leave us. We could not afford to lose you. You do more toward making our country and our wants know[n] than all the rest of the men in the county. Don’t leave us.’

“Now you see everybody likes a Frontier editor, and they could not get along without him, consequently we should like to see some of our brother ink slingers, in the east, who are complaining about delinquents come out here and go into business; make out their bills and present them. They would swear worse than they do now, when ever[y]body would say: ‘I have no money.’ Then turn around to his neighbor and say: ‘that fellow is a nuisance. What in thunder does he want of money? He has no work to do; he sets in his office, and has men to work for him, and they have to do as he says. He is either a fool or thinks we are.’

“Now we will tell you, dear friends, what an editor wants with money. He has to pay hands sixty dollars per month. He has to pay four dollars per cord wood, and it will perhaps take two cord of wood to do him one week.-Here eight dollars. He has to pay ten dollars per bundle for his paper at the Mo. river; express charges to his office are four dollars, and one bundle will last him a week-there’s fourteen dollars more. Lights one week, four dollars; ink one month, five dollars; glue for rollers one month, five dollars; pens and pencils one month, two dollars; paper and envelopes one month six dollars; postage one month, twenty dollars other miscellaneous articles required in the office during the month twenty dollars. He works two men at sixty dollars per month: $120, he uses four bundles of paper per month, $56; he burns eight cord of wood, $32; lights one month, $16. The whole making a grand total for one month of $282.

“We don’t give this as a dun, oh no! we do not need any money for the simple fact that any paper dealer will give us our paper and as to our ink, we steal that, and at the end of each month we cheat our printers out of their wages at poker.”

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