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Honoring county’s first newspaper publisher

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William O. McCurdy

William O. McCurdy

BEEVILLE – The progeny of Bee County’s first newspaper publishers came together on Nov. 30 at the Beeville Country Club to celebrate their lineage.

All could claim to be the grandchildren of William Oscar McCurdy, founder of the Beeville Bee.

John McCurdy reported that the gathering was organized by one of the grandsons, Dr. William O. McCurdy, III.

He received substantial assistance by Elizabeth Galloway.

Those who attended included Louise Welder-Hall, Raymond Welder, Josephine Welder-Miller, Dr. McCurdy and his wife, Norma, John C. McCurdy and his wife, Linda, Elizabeth Helveston-Galloway, and her husband, John.

Other living grandchildren who were unable to attend included Martha Helvenston and Lucy Helvenston-Hamm.

Deceased grandchildren were listed as Mary Elizabeth Welder-Knight and Margery Ruth McCurdy.

During the gathering, each of the McCurdy grandchildren were presented with a drawing that Dr. McCurdy had contracted to have done by Houston artist Craig White.

Each drawing had been professionally reproduced and framed.

Dr. McCurdy also presented each of his fellow grandchildren with a copy of a composition of memories and history that W.O. McCurdy had compiled.

The contribution that McCurdy brought to Bee County was told by former Beeville Bee-Picayune editor Camp Ezell in his book “The Historical Story of Bee County” published in 1973.

Ezell said McCurdy first came to Beeville in the spring of 1886 from his native Clairborne, a city in Jasper County, Mississippi, to visit his uncle and aunt, Dr. and Mrs. C.S. Phillips.

McCurdy had been working as a printer and editor, and after spending several days here he decided to move to the village of Beeville and start a newspaper.

His uncle, a local dentist at the time, loaned McCurdy some money to help him with his project.

McCurdy was only 20 years old at the time, but he knew what he needed to start a newspaper.

The entrepreneur bought a George Washington hand press and went to work.

The press was a small job machine made for commercial printing. It was operated by a treadle, and it required four pedal movements to print one sheet of paper.

McCurdy also bought two cases of type for the machine.

Capt. A.C. Jones and Sheriff D.A.T. Walton helped McCurdy develop a list of subscribers.

The shop was established in the loft of a building adjoining a livery stable on the east side of St. Mary’s Street about where the building now stands that once held the natural gas office.

Ezell described the space as being so small that McCurdy could stand in the center of the office and reach almost anything he needed.

Later, the operation was moved to the north side of the courthouse square where the Joe Barnhart Bee County Library now stands.

Later McCurdy moved the operation to a frame building where Prosperity Bank is located today. In the early 1900s, the frame building was replaced by one made of concrete blocks.

Over the years, McCurdy  added equipment including a Potter cylinder press that was powered by a steam engine.

He also bought a Blickensderfer typewriter and taught himself to type by the two-fingered hunt-and-peck system.

Ezell described McCurdy as a “colorful and forceful writer and with his persuasive words his philosophy wielded a beneficent influence upon the community during the 27 years he published the Bee.”

After McCurdy died, his widow sold the newspaper to R.W. “Whizzie” Barry, who was a reporter for the newspaper.

The publication changed hands over the years until 1928 when George H. Atkins, publisher of the Picayune, organized the Beeville Publishing Company and bought the Bee.

Atkins consolidated the two newspapers under the name of the Beeville Bee-Picayune.