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The American Baptist Newspaper

History of the American Baptist Newspaper
Source: 1968 GABNKY Centennial Volume

In the first General Association of Colored Baptists in Kentucky meeting in 1869 a committee was appointed to study the feasibility of beginning a Religious Organ Journal for Baptists in Kentucky.  The committee included Reverends George W. Dupree, R.T.W. James, W.J. Brown, I. Slaughter, R. Lee, F. Braxton, Q.B. Jones, H. Scroggins, H. Samuels.

The committee reported that such a venture was not possible at that time. Rev. George Dupree, a member of that committee had a different opinion. Between the years of 1869 and 1875 he edited and published THE BAPTIST HERALD. Rev. Dupree invested his own time and money in this venture. The Association seeing the value of his efforts donated $50.00 to him, and next year donated $75.00.

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This action occurred in 1933.Succeeding Bro. Steward as editor of the American Baptist, was his understudy, Rev. William Howard Ballew. As Rev. Ballew came to this task he was accompanied by other crisis in the denomination and nation. We had just suffered the loss of our school, State University. Confidence and cooperation were at a low ebb. After 18 months the job office at 443 South Ninth Street was closed.


The paper moved to the I. Willis Cole printing plant where it published for the next six years.In 1935, editor Ballew was elected Moderator of the General Association. While he maintained general supervision over the plant, the editorial responsibilities were in the hands of Rev. S.E. Hoard, M.H. Gant and L.H. Woolfolk. It was under the leadership of Dr. W.H. Ballew that the site at 1715 West Chestnut Street was chosen for the operations of the American Baptist. The former building has now been replaced by the newer and modern General Association Headquarters Building.


The new building houses not only the printing and publication of the American Baptist but also the activities of the State Mission Board and the business of the General Association.In 1957, Dr. Ballew retired from the American Baptist as Managing Editor. He was succeeded by Dr. Charles N. King of Frankfort, Kentucky.  Shortly thereafter, Dr. King resigned because of the responsibilities of his church. Since that time the Editorial responsibilities of the American Baptist has been under leadership of the Secretary-Treasurer, Mrs. Henrietta Butler.No record of the American Baptist can be complete without due recognition to the sacrificial services of Mrs. Butler. She came to the American Baptist at a salary of $5.00 a week. During these years she has not only sacrificed herself but also her personal belongings (i.e., car, free time, vacation, money) to serve Kentucky Baptists through the American Baptist. Often, her’s is a thankless task for unless one has some familiarity with the printing and editing media, he has no awareness of all that is involved.  A tremendous responsibility of reporting and editing worthy news, plus the necessity of good public relations, rest upon the shoulder of the Editor.


We come to this Centennial not only with gratitude for the contributions of the past, but with deep appreciation for those who now serve. Whatever successes our tomorrows hold, they can be no greater than those who laid the foundations upon which we build.


NOTES FROM THE ISSUE:“In addition to printing the weekly “American Baptist” many other printing needs for our constituency are met. Among them are church bulletins, envelopes, advertisements, placards, flyers, etc.”“Editorial writers of long service has been Drs. J.M. Stevenson and J.V. Bottoms. Others presently writing are Thurmond Coleman, R.L. Amos, R.H. Faulkner, C.B. Lucas, Thelma Jones and E.L. McCall.”FROM AN ISSUE OF THE AMERICAN BAPTIST, APRIL 26, 1895:“All persons who will sleep and feed delegates to the National Baptist Convention Sept. 4-8, will notify Mrs. Amanda Sayles, L.L. B., 1641 Hale Ave., Phone Ma 6923-1. State whether feeding and sleeping or only sleeping is desired. $1.50 per day, 2 meals; 75 cents sleeping only.”“STATE UNIVERSITY – Main Building, What State University Offers People:- Theological Course – To meet the requirements of Ministerial students.- Normal – To prepare public school teachers, also for college.- Grammar – To prepare for the Normal course.- Art – Crayon work; Painting from life, etc.- Music – Vocal and Instrumental.- Sewing – Cutting, fitting, plain and fancy needle work.- Printing – Newspaper and job work.Board, room, fuel and lights $8.00 per month. Incidental fee $3.00 for the year. The majority of the students are poor and plain dress is encouraged throughout the institution. Ninety dollars ($90.00) will cover all expenses for nine months session. State University has this year, students from 40 counties in Kentucky and from 10 other States.Full corps of Christian Teachers, Reading-rooms, Library, Maps, Apparatuses, etc., etc.Students taken only on the best recommendations. For further information and for catalogue, address: Pres. C.L. Purge, D.D., Louisville, Kentucky

The name BAPTIST HERALD in 1879 was changed to THE AMERICAN BAPTIST. The reasons are not known to us. The American Baptist along with the Western Recorder (the religious journal for white Baptists in Kentucky) were published in the Louisville Courier-Journal Building, 149 South 4th Street. Associated with Rev. Dupree in editing the American Baptist was a layman, the late W.H. Steward. Bro. Steward later took over the management of the American Baptist, a position he held for some 56 years. During this time he equipped the building and provided employment for 7-8 students at a time from State (Simmons) University. With the increase in circulation this, the oldest Religious Journal in the South, became the Official Organ for the National Baptist Convention, the General Association of Baptists in Kentucky, its district associations and conventions.Bro. Steward, earnestly desiring that the noble work begun would not fold, transferred ownership of the American Baptist to the General Association. This was done “free-gratis,” himself assuming all old indebtedness.

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