Cherokeean Herald celebrates 172 years of local news coverage | Local News


RUSK – A Cherokee County company recently celebrated 172 years of fulfilling its mission of producing local news about the communities it serves.

The Cherokeean Herald began in 1850 and celebrated maintaining its status as Texas’ oldest weekly on Friday with a ribbon cutting that included the Rusk and Jacksonville Chambers of Commerce. The newspaper will begin its 173rd edition on Sunday.

The event included a proclamation read by Rusk Mayor Ben Middlebrooks and a presentation of the flag by State Senator Robert Nichols. Middlebrooks Proclamation proclaimed February 27 “The Cherokeean Herald Day” in the town.

Nichols presented Cherokeean Herald owners John and Penny Hawkins with a flag flying over the Texas capital and said it was nice to have owners who know and are passionate about the community.

“It’s very helpful for someone who knows the community to own the paper and promote the community as a whole,” Nichols said.

The owners also received a congratulatory letter from former President Jimmy Carter congratulating him on his long history.

“As the oldest weekly in Texas, I look forward to continuing to contribute to the culture and economy of our nation for many years to come,” the letter read in part.

Hawkins said he started with the newspaper in 1981 on the radio side of the business.

“One side of the door was a newspaper, the other a radio. Apart from DJing and hosting ‘Talk Time’, I also did the local news and helped the newspaper from time to time,” he said.

Hawkins returned to the newspaper in 2020 as managing director.

Shortly after, as the paper went on sale and threatened with closure, Hawkins said he and his wife intervened.

“When the opportunity to buy the newspaper came up, I first said I wasn’t interested. But in the face of the newspaper’s possible closure, my wife Penny and I felt it was too important to the community,” he said.

Hawkins said he aimed to continue the paper’s track record and remain a steward of history.

“This milestone is significant for the community and for Cherokee County, but being the oldest weekly in Texas, it also has enormous significance for our state’s history,” he said. “Throughout this time and throughout our community’s history, The Cherokeean has been a beacon to the community by reporting events in people’s lives, their births and deaths, political elections, tragic events, joyful events and often highlighting issues that affect our lives. You can go back to issues around 1905 and see the ancestor stories of our current families. The Cherokeean is living history. I think we are more of the stewards of history than owners,” Hawkins continued.

The event marked the first time a joint ribbon cutting had taken place with the Rusk and Jacksonville chambers.

“We are the Cherokeean Herald. Since we are members of both the Jacksonville and Rusk chambers, I wanted to include the county’s two major population centers. Kind of coming together so we can show that we all have the same goal of promoting our community,” Hawkins said.

The owners also received a certificate of recognition from State Representatives Travis Clardy and Cody Harris and an anniversary recognition from Governor Greg Abbott’s office.

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