Editor's note: The follow article appeared in the Saturday, April 24, 1915 edition of the Apalachicola Times. It celebrated the 34th anniversary of Apalachicola Tribune, and the 30th anniversary of its merger with the Herald in 1885 to become the Apalachicola Times. It has been in continuous operation ever since, for 133 years, making it one of the oldest such newspapers in Florida.
On Wednesday, the 28th inst., the present publisher of this newspaper got out the first copy of the Apalachicola Tribune. that was 34 years ago. In 1885 The Tribune was merged with the Herald under the name of The Times, and in May 1886, the present publisher returned to Apalachicola after a year’s absence, and assumed ownership of The Times; and he has been on the job since that date, never missing an issue of the paper. The Tribune at first was four pages, two of which were printed on an Army press. The sole compositor was the writer. Bob Pickett was the printer’s devil, and with his other duties Bob delivered the Tribune to the subscribers in town, and his lusty cries extolling the good points of the Tribune were heard every Saturday morning at the crack of day.
Bob was not only an enthusiastic printer’s devil who believed implicitly in the shop and the destinies of the Tribune, but he was as bright and sparkling as a 40 carat diamond, and as mischievous as a monkey. When Bob wasn’t playing some prank on Mr. Robert Baker whose office was on the first floor of the building occupied by The Tribune, he was learning to set type. To the discomfort of Mr. Baker, Bob found that a certain knot hole in the office floor was above Mr. Baker’s desk. Mr. Baker couldn’t locate at first where those drops of water came from, but one day when a larger quantity than usual came upon his head, he suspected that Bob was the author of his troubles, and he proceeded to investigate. After he had shut down his windows, barred the back door and securely locked the front, he mounted the rear stairway that led to the Tribune office. There was no one in the office. The sole occupant – Bob had crept softly out of a front window to the wooden awning, secure from observation.
In 1881 there were fifteen mercantile establishments in Apalachicola, as follows: Coombs & Emlen, Henry Brash, Myers & McNiel, Mrs. Sinclair, Robert Baker, Wakefield’s drugstore, Frank Messina, Hoffman & Moore, Herman Ruge & Sons, Mrs. Glant, John Cook, A. Fred Meyer, A. J. Murat, F. J. Egbert, Porter & Grady. There were also two butchers, viz: Geo. A. Patton and Phillip Schoelles.
The Coombs & Emlen mill was the only saw mill in operation in the city when the writer came to Apalachicola. The Brash mill, however, was under course of construction. The Pennsylvania Tie Co’s mill was here, but it was idle until a Mr. Nailor came and began the work of renovation. In 1883 this mill passed into the hands of The Cypress Lumber Co., of Boston, with Ben F. Howland as manager, and about the same time Monroe & Clary erected a small saw mill at Old Woman’s Bluff, and used it principally to make deals and square the huge pine logs shipped by this firm to Liverpool.
Regular communications with the outside world was obtained by two steamers per week from Columbus, Ga., (these steamers bringing the mail) the weekly sailings to New Orleans of the steamer Amite, and the sloops John Edwards to Carrabelle.
Of 1881 of the merchants of Apalachicola there are left Mr. A. J. Murat, Mr. Henry L. Grady, R. H. Porter, John G. and Geo. H. Ruge, and The Times hopes that these men will be left for many years of happiness and prosperity. The writer has known these five for 34 years, and during these years we have found them to be upright and honorable men, and Apalachicola has been the gainer because she has had them as citizens.
Of the beatmen and oyster dealers of those days there are two left to recount the days when oysters were plentiful and cheap, viz: Mr. Joseph Lawrence Mike Nedley, and W. J. Donahoe who have grown gray and grizzled in the service, but who can still tell where the best oysters may be found, or tell to the barrel the number of oysters Capt. Summerkamp left on the wharf in Apalachicola, denying them transportation to the various river landings, because he didn’t want to spare the time to load them on his steamer.
There have been many changes in Apalachicola the past 34 years.