Legacy of journalism
Since 1870, the year Augusta was incorporated, there has been a community newspaper. The first, The Crescent soon became the Republican and was sold out in 3 or 4 years' time.
The Augusta Daily Gazette had its beginning as The Southern Kansas Gazette, which was first issued on July 4, 1874, by C. H. & J. A. Kurtz. Under this management business was conducted until the fall of 1879, when it passed into the hands of C. H. Kurtz alone. It held strong Republican views and was issued on Thursdays.
One interesting historic fact is that the press and much of the type were the property of abolitionist John Brown, of Osawatomie and world-wide fame. In the attack on Brown the printing office was raided, the type mangled, and the press thrown into the brush and broken. From Osawatomie the entire outfit traveled to Paola, Florence, and finally to Augusta.
Records show that C.H. Kurtz published and edited the paper at least until 1890, when a fire in the City building destroyed all the city records. The Gazette office suffered a fire in the 1930s, losing many valuable records, as well. To complicate matters, there is nothing on file with the State Historical Society concerning the newspaper between 1887-1892.
What became of Mr. Kurtz? No one knows.
The next editor of the Gazette mentioned in print was Timothy Sexton. Sexton was a successful businessman who in 1898 was authorized to construct and maintain a telephone system, line and exchange in Augusta.
In 1928, Bertha "Bert" Shore and her brother Chester "Chet" Shore purchased the Augusta Daily Gazette. Bert worked at the Gazette until her death in 1963, at the age of 66. During the dark days of World War II and the shortage of workers, she put out the paper almost by herself. She was the first woman inducted into the Kansas PrBert was the voice of Augusta and was well known across the country for her unique editorial style.
The Gazette Publishing Company was formed on Sept. 30, 1946 by H.G. Hutcheson, Bert Shore, Elsie Harrison, Paul Cyphers, and Mike Cyphers on the purchase of the newspaper from Chester Shore and Bertha Shore.
On May 27, 1958, Hutcheson sold his one-fifth interest to D.J. "Jack" Zerbe and Zerbe would assume the duties of managing editor.
The Gazette Publishing Company had a change in ownership in June 1963. A transaction was completed conveying the interest of Elsie Harrington, Paul Cyphers, Mike Cyphers, and the estate of the late Bertha Shore to a new corporation, with D.J. "Jack" Zerbe as president, with his wife Florence and sons, Carter and Terry, also as corporators.
Carter Zerbe worked in the publishing business for 46 years, succeeding his father as full-time publisher of the Augusta paper in 1979, and also serving as regional manager for Liberty Group Publishing after that company acquired the newspaper in the mid-1990s.
Zerbe guided The Gazette for almost 50 years - in good times and bad. When the flood of 1998 devastated the Gazette office, Zerbe and his dedicated staff persevered and kept the presses rolling. With some rescued office equipment and assistance from the El Dorado Times printing press, the Gazette never missed an issue. The community was able to stay informed and up to date on the flood situation.
The Gazette team worked at a temporary location until Good Friday, 1999 when they were able to occupy the Gazette office once again.
Many times Zerbe shared pride in his staff's dedication shown during that difficult time.
Zerbe retired in 2004 and GateHouse Media purchased Liberty Group in 2005. Almost daily, Zerbe would continue to stop by the Gazette office until his death in March of 2012. He never tired of catching up on the latest news.
Kent Bush has been publisher since 2007 and is leading the Gazette and Times into a new era.
Newspapers flourished in Butler County in the 1880's and early part of the 1900s. El Dorado had the El Dorado Press, The Butler County Democrat, and The Walnut Valley Times, which would later become the El Dorado Times, began in 1870.
Other newspapers in the area were the Leon Indicator, the Leon News, the Douglass Tribune, The Towanda Herald, The Towanda Times, The Western Butler County Times, the Potwin Herald, the Potwin Ledger, The Brainerd Sun, The Cassoday Mirage, The Benton Bulletin, and The Latham Leader.
Sources: Butler County's Eighty Years - 1855-1935, by Jessie Perry Stratford, The Augusta Gazette, and Augusta, Kansas 1868-1990 by Burl Allison, Jr. , The Augusta Daily Gazette.ess Association Hall of Fame.