By the time our community became officially known as Augusta in 1869, there was already a general store, post office, and a church. Soon after came a school, two attorneys, a doctor, a druggist, real estate agents, and the U.S. Land Office. The city’s first newspaper, The Augusta Crescent first published in September 1870.
Augusta had all the appearance of being a city, without benefit of municipal organization or official political designation. That changed on Feb. 8, 1871, when Augusta was incorporated as a city. With that official status, a governing body was elected.
Later that same year, Augusta lost the county seat to El Dorado in a bitter fight. There were accusations of cheating on both sides and bitterness lingered, thus resulting in a rivalry which endured for many years.
The Land Office was lost to Wichita the next year and Augusta’s growth stalled for awhile. But history shows that neither setback stopped our city from flourishing.
A week-long community Centennial observance was held in August of 1968 - celebrating the true beginning of Augusta’s history. Hundreds of people turned out for all the activities. Each day was dedicated to a particular theme and some of the events included a parade, Government and Homecoming Day, all culminating with a Centennial Pageant and fireworks display held at Worl Field behind the high school. The Governor of Kansas even visited. To date it remains the biggest and most successful city-wide celebration ever held.
Other birthday honors this week go to The Augusta Daily Gazette. Annually, the Augusta Daily Gazette ends its publication year on Jan. 31 and begins a new year on Feb. 1. We have begun our 120th year of publication.
The Gazette was the surviving newspaper in this town in the late 1800s when several publication attempts were made to provide citizenry the news of the day.
The first Augusta Gazette was published by Timothy Sexton and O.J. Bradfield.
Chet and Bert Shore purchased the newspaper in the 1920s and were its publishers through the DepressionEra. In the 1940s, the Shores formed a 5-way partnership with H.C. Hutcheson, Elsie Harrison, Mike and Paul Cyphers.
Miss Shore was the first woman inducted into the Kansas Newspaper Hall of Fame.
Iowa newsman Daniel J. Zerbe became part of the Gazette partnership arrangement in 1958.
In 1963, Zerbe bought out the newspaper and his family continued its publication until the paper was sold in 1987.
Carter Zerbe, son of the longtime publisher, was associated with the hometown paper on a daily basis until his retirement at the end of 2004.
The Gazette is now part of GateHouse Publishing Inc.
Kent Bush is the current publisher of the award-winning publication.