WJTV News Channel 12 - MYSTERY MONDAY: Newspaper Rivalry Meant Deadline for Lamar Co. E

And on October 19 of 1915 - Rees discovered a meeting between his rival and the election commission, according to light news reporting of the time.

MYSTERY MONDAY: Newspaper Rivalry Meant Deadline for Lamar Co. Editor

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Bennett has the research with their names: W.A. Blackburn with a Columbia paper and Samuel E. Rees with a Purvis paper. They were in a dispute over power: who would print ballots for the county. Bennett has the research with their names: W.A. Blackburn with a Columbia paper and Samuel E. Rees with a Purvis paper. They were in a dispute over power: who would print ballots for the county.
"We had a newspaper box across the street over there. And we had people standing around there waiting for us to put 'em in. They were a dime a piece then and they'd try to buy 'em off you just like candy," Freeman said. "We had a newspaper box across the street over there. And we had people standing around there waiting for us to put 'em in. They were a dime a piece then and they'd try to buy 'em off you just like candy," Freeman said.
"You have to understand the time period and you have to go back. You're talking about before television. You're talking about newspapers and editors and writers - they were dominant figures politically, in their community, church. They held really big sti "You have to understand the time period and you have to go back. You're talking about before television. You're talking about newspapers and editors and writers - they were dominant figures politically, in their community, church. They held really big sti
Deputies, headquartered in the same square of town, arrested him immediately and just to highlight how powerful Dr. Rees possible was: if you were looking for a news article about the crime that happened, you weren't going to find much and you weren't goi Deputies, headquartered in the same square of town, arrested him immediately and just to highlight how powerful Dr. Rees possible was: if you were looking for a news article about the crime that happened, you weren't going to find much and you weren't goi
"He was found guilty among his peers. But as the story goes: Dr. Rees never served a day because editors being as strong and politically connected was good friends with then-Governor Bilbo," Bennett said. "He was found guilty among his peers. But as the story goes: Dr. Rees never served a day because editors being as strong and politically connected was good friends with then-Governor Bilbo," Bennett said.
If you have an idea for a MYSTERY MONDAY story contact Jacob Kittilstad at jkittilstad@wjtv.com or 601-664-8839. Our motto is "History and Mystery".

It's a question journalists often ask themselves: how far am I will to go to get an exclusive?

A lot of the time it means hard work or developing relationships. But go back 100 years and another option was on the table.

...at least for one editor.

That option? Hurting the competition. And we mean physically.

Jacob Kittilstad has all the news unfit to print this MYSTERY MONDAY.

Click here to watch last week's MYSTERY MONDAY: Secret Caskets, Secret Reason in Bolton

The newspaper isn't poured over like some people remember. Sammy Freeman said he remember print's glory day in Lamar County. He delivered papers for the Hattiesburg American in 1966.

"They would run you down in your car to try to buy the paper off of you. They'd say 'Give me a paper so I can read the results of the election'," Freeman said.

"We had a newspaper box across the street over there. And we had people standing around there waiting for us to put 'em in. They were a dime a piece then and they'd try to buy 'em off you just like candy," Freeman said.

But to go back even further - to 1915 - and editors were the gatekeepers of information in rural Mississippi, Lamar County Administrator and history enthusiast Chuck Bennett said.

"You have to understand the time period and you have to go back. You're talking about before television. You're talking about newspapers and editors and writers - they were dominant figures politically, in their community, church. They held really big sticks," Bennett said.

"As the story goes there were several newspapers here: the Purvis Echo, one in Columbia. And there were two prominent editors who were rivals, if you will," Bennett said.

Bennett has the research with their names: W.A. Blackburn with a Columbia paper and Samuel E. Rees with a Purvis paper. They were in a dispute over power: who would print ballots for the county.

And on October 19 of 1915 - Rees discovered a meeting between his rival and the election commission, according to light news reporting of the time.

"Dr. Rees went out to his car. Grabbed a shotgun. Walked into the building and shot and killed his competition," Bennett said.

Deputies, headquartered in the same square of town, arrested him immediately and just to highlight how powerful Dr. Rees possible was: if you were looking for a news article about the crime that happened, you weren't going to find much and you weren't going to find much anywhere.

Were these stories suppressed? Who can say? Anyone who was around at the time has passed on by now and even if I could ask them they probably would not answer. But this thing was like the reverse of a scoop. All the newspeople knew about it but no one was saying anything.

"He was found guilty among his peers. But as the story goes: Dr. Rees never served a day because editors being as strong and politically connected was good friends with then-Governor Bilbo," Bennett said.

"We might not admit that it went all the way to the Governor level of Mississippi but there was something there that made him pardon the man," Bennett said.

Governor Theodore Bilbo (R-Mississippi) - a future U.S. Senator - would issue more than 800 pardons during his time in office. This one was for a murder case in a courthouse with witness.

News like that now might actually sell a few papers...

"Wouldn't happen. There's to many people investigatin' and too many people with phones to call in. These little ol' portable phones will gitcha every time," Freeman said.

Dr. Rees would go on to be an active member of the community in Lamar County. Record books show he was a prominent businesses man and served on the draft selection board.

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