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  • Writer's picturePenny Raile

The Cheyenne County Rustler

The Cheyenne County Rustler provided the best account of the growth of Wano, Kansas. The four-page paper, which came out every Friday, reported in fascinating detail about new homes being built, cattle being branded, rumors of new businesses beginning, who was sick and who was traveling, and the latest update on the new railroad. A subscription was $1.50 per year.

Readers would also learn that new potatoes and green peas would be served in the Wano house; Mrs. Moore was recovering nicely from mountain oak poisoning; the hay crop looked promising, but the wool crop would be less than usual; Miss Russell preached an acceptable out-door sermon on Sunday; and a recently captured centipede could be viewed at Heard’s Restaurant.

The primary purpose of the Cheyenne County Rustler, like most frontier journalism, was to promote the area to encourage immigration. As Larry McMurtry, novelist, wrote, the “selling of the West” often preceded the “settling” of it.

The first three issues of the Cheyenne County Rustler in July 1885, ran three full front-page columns describing Wano, Kansas and Cheyenne County on the front page. The mere presence of the newspaper itself was proof of “civilization.”

The article described in glowing terms the progress of the new town citing new schools, new wells, daily stagecoach lines, the availability of water, the successful harvests and the frequency of mail delivery.

The two inside pages relied heavily on national and international news clipped from eastern newspapers. They were delivered through an elaborate arrangement of postage-free “newspaper exchanges,” on horseback, or, later, railroad and telegraph.

No doubt, the Cheyenne County Rustler had a big influence on the town and the county. The paper was in existence for nearly twenty years. H.G. Thurman was the originally publisher and C.E. Denison took over in 1886. In 1904, the paper was consolidated with the Kansas Eagle, owned by George Lawless.

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