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History of The Kentucky Standard

By Dixie Hibbs - Local Historian

A tack placed under a thin pad of a chair played a major role in the origin of The Kentucky Standard more than a century ago.

It seems that Jack Wilson and Ernie Coyle, two typesetters at the Nelson County Record, had their differences. One day Wilson came to work and sat down to compose copy for the paper. He quickly arose with a yell and strong language. He went to the publisher, Henry Bacon, and told him if this happened again he would "...leave and start another newspaper."

It did, and he did.

Wilson first began The Bardstown Observer in April of 1900. He discontinued this paper and The Kentucky Standard was born with the first issue printed on December 15, 1900. The six-page paper was produced on Thursday by Wilson and R.S. Haskell of Louisville.

Early in 1901 Wallace Brown, circuit clerk, bought the paper and served as president and business manager. Wilson continued as editor, he had been engaged in the newspaper business for 25 years and was known by most all of the people in Nelson County. This proved to be quite a benefit to the new paper.

The front page stories of earliest issues were historic accounts submitted by local writers such as Dr. A.H. Merrifield, John D. Wickliffe, and the Rev. John Cunningham.

Unlike today, local news and statewide political news was usually found on the inside pages of the paper.

The small communities such as Solitude, Botland, Howards Town, Woodlawn, Lenore, Green's Chapel, and Wimpsatt, all had correspondents who faithfully reported who was sick, visiting, and what prices a farmer got for his lambs, pigs, or tobacco.

Alfred S. Wathen, who began working at The Standard when he was a boy, was 21-years-old when he bought his first few shares of stock in 1909. By 1919 he had controlling interest.

For the next 40 years Wathen was the publisher of The Kentucky Standard. at his death in 1958, his sons, Alfred Wathen Jr. and B.J. Wathen, and his daughter Elizabeth Spalding continued to produce the paper until 1979 when it was sold to Scripps Howard. Eight years later, in April of 1987, The Standard was again sold to Landmark Community Newspapers, Inc. and remains today an LCNI publication.

The once weekly paper of local interest columns and advertisements of the early 1900s has today become a tri-weekly publishing on Sunday, Wednesday and Friday -- and operates a local cable channel, three internet websites, and a real estate classified magazine, all under the name Standard Communications.