De Queen Bee: serving De Queen and Sevier County, Arkansas and the surrounding areas since 1897.
The De Queen Bee newspaper was established on June 4, 1897, by Walter A. Boyd, a printer, and J. W. Bishop, a lawyer from Nashville, Arkansas. One version of events is that the two were sitting on the courthouse steps in Nashville, discussing the establishment of a new town on the railroad in Sevier County, which had been named De Queen. Sensing a business opportunity, the two decided to start a newspaper in the new town and call it, appropriately, De Queen Bee. The paper was to be published every Friday, according to its owners, and the price of a subscriptions was $1 a year.
The population of Sevier County at that time was about 15,000. Boyd and Bishop printed only three issues before selling the paper to E. C. Winford. During the first several months of publication it was owned at various times by Winford, and by A. T. Evans, L. A. Pearre, James L. Cannon and O. T. Graves.
The last two, Cannon and Graves, had just finished school at Fayetteville. They published the paper until October 1899, when fire destroyed the entire business portion of the town, including the Bee office. The morning after the fire, the public found this sign on the lot where the Bee office had stood: "The Bee will appear this week as usual."
It did. Type was set at Winthrop and the edition was printed on a Washington hand press between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. Papers were folded on the train depot platform and the mailing list was addressed on the caboose of a freight train. Papers were mailed on time.
The Bee secured a new printing plant in 1899.
In 1903, the De Queen Bee plant and publishing office was moved to the second floor of the new building on the corner of Fourth Street and De Queen Ave. This was far different from the home that had sheltered the press in 1897 when it was hauled into town in wagons.
Graves left shortly after the fire to join the Lockesburg Enterprise. L. A. Pearre became Cannon's partner. When Cannon left to become postmaster in 1915, Pearre became the sole owner. Pearre served as editor and publisher of the paper for over 27 years before selling it in April 1926, to a company which included V. W. and E. W. St. John of the Mena Star, D. D. Clement and E. B. Smith, who became editor and manager of the Bee.
The De Queen Democrat was another weekly which had been established about 1919 in De Queen. Tom G. Taylor and Syd L. Yeary were listed as its editors and publishers. In the fall of 1928, Earle Ramsey discontinued his Southwestern Gazette at Lockesburg and moved the plant to De Queen, where he formed a partnership with Wilson E. Runton to establish the weekly Sevier County Citizen. In 1929, Ramsey formed a partnership with Tom G. Taylor of the De Queen Democrat and the paper merged with the Citizen. Ramsey later became the sole owner of the Citizen.
In 1932, Ramsey sold his half-interest in the Sevier County Citizen to Ray Kimball. Later in the year, A. L. Kimball discontinued his Horatio Times, purchased Ramsey's remaining interest in the Citizen, and moved his plant from Horatio to De Queen to combine it with the Citizen. On May 10, 1933, Ray and A. L. Kimball purchased the weekly De Queen Bee and combined the two papers. The Citizen became a daily as the De Queen Daily Citizen, while the weekly edition retained the name of the De Queen Bee.
Subscription prices stayed about the same during the early years of the Bee's existence. Hard cash was difficult to come by during the Depression years, and subscriptions were often paid for by trading or bartering for such items as a gallon of sorghum, molasses, ribbon cane, or for farm products, including all kinds of vegetables and fruits, eggs and an occasional chicken.
World War II found Bee staff members going into service. As a result, publication of the Citizen was discontinued while the Bee came out weekly as usual.
De Queen had been the smallest town in the U.S. with a daily newspaper and there were some serious discussions after the war about not resuming publication of the Citizen. Most "experts" felt that there was no way a daily paper in a town this size could survive. Ray Kimball met with business leaders of the community and put the problem to them, noting that he was willing to resume publication of the Citizen if he had the support of local business. Local business owners pledged their support and daily publication of the Citizen continued until 2007. The Bee continues to be published every Thursday.
Beginning in 1946, the De Queen Bee Company published the Daily Citizen and the weekly Bee with Ray Kimball as publisher. J. R. McKinley joined the papers in 1952 as editor.
On March 12, 2007, the Kimball heirs sold the De Queen Bee Company to Lancaster Corporation, of Gadsden, Ala., which owns six other newspapers in Arkansas.