A Tribute to the Setting Sun

Written by Amy Dee Stephens in the June 2020 Issue

The Edmond community was caught off guard on May 2, 2020when a discreet, front-page column announced that The Edmond Sun newspaper would be merging with The Norman Transcript because of the financial impact of coronavirus. It’s no secret that newspaper publishing has suffered from the rise of online news, but it somehow seemed impossible that a newspaper that has weathered 131 years of economic storms, wars, and depressions could possibly change course in the midst of a pandemic.

The Sun Rises

The Edmond Sun was rooted in the town’s history. The first publisher, Milton W.“Kicking Bird” Reynolds was a land run pioneer. Fascinated by the West, he fell in love with the prairie landscape, which he described as a beautiful, silvery sea of grass. His writings persuaded many settlers to travel westward. On April 20, 1889, Reynolds rode by train to Guthrie, Oklahoma to document the Land Run on his typewriter. Three months later, Reynolds moved to Edmond to start the longest-running newspaper in Oklahoma Territory. “This is the first issue of The Edmond Sunin the beautiful land,” Reynolds wrote on July 18, 1889. “It is here to stay and lay the foundation of a growing city and prosperous trade center.”

scan of edmond sun

Local Breaking News

The Sun’s primary focus was always local history, especially when the town of Edmond was separated from Oklahoma City by miles of prairie. In the early years, snippets of personal life were newsworthy:

  • J. E. Bert, an employee of the local gas company, had an appendix operation
  • Mrs. Rodkey held a luncheon in her beautifully decorated home
  • College Grocery Store has green beans but is low on liver
  • The pastor’s sermon this week is The Kiss of Judas

Frontpage stories that live on in the memories of local citizens include the opening of Arcadia Lake and the 1986 post office shooting and tornado. The largest-font headlines, however, celebrated Edmond successes, such as Olympic gold-medalist Shannon Miller, or when CNN and USA Today named Edmond’s LibertyFest as a top-ten 4th of July destination.

The Sun Sets

Perhaps the late Osa Lee Banzett, a mid-century journalist in Edmond, best dignified the work of The Edmond Sun when she wrote, “Never, never underestimate the power of a newspaper, whether it’s large or small. The printed word has a great impact on people...and it lives through the centuries.” As citizens grapple with the idea that The Edmond Sun marquee at 123 S. Broadway is no longer lit, the staff are the most affected. In the final column, they wrote, “These are stressful times for you, and for us. We thank our Edmond Sun subscribers and advertisers for their support over the years.” Their words and images, however, live on as a diary of Edmond’s development. Many citizens have saved clippings of the stories that hold personal meaning, and the newspaper is digitally preserved and accessible at the University of Central Oklahoma and the Edmond Historical Society & Museum. Although Reynolds could not have predicted computers when he wrote, “It is here to stay,” Edmond can take comfort that the work of The Edmond Sun will not be lost or forgotten. 

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