Known All Over Creation and Down in Arkansas as The Great County Builder: Sam Konkel

The more I dig into the history of Baca County, the more I appreciate Sam Konkel’s contributions to the development of early Baca County.  He started the “Western World” paper in Old Boston and ran it throughout the three years Boston existed. He left the county for several years before returning to the high plains of Baca County  and was maybe the most vocal promoter of Baca County  from 1913 to 1930.  I love his work in 1918 and 1919 when he ran a series retelling stories of Old Boston, early Vilas and more.  We learn a lot about the people of that era from him.  That work is significant because he was in Boston and saw it throughout its short and wild existence.  When I have posted stories such as “Tioga County” and “Some More Old Vilas” Sam Konkel is the “The Writer”   Sam Konkel called himself the “Great County Builder” publishing Baca County maps and promotional materials that were sent nationwide.

Known All Over Creation and Down in Arkansas as the Great County Builder News clipping

His efforts were certainly played a part in the population in the 1930 census being the largest in the county’s history (See Summary Chart Below).

Baca County Census Summary

He owned several newspapers as shown in the clipping below but his work and passion was Baca County.

Newspapers Sam Konkel Owned

His work laid a great foundation for work that was done later  by J. R. Austin, Ike Osteen and others.   Now there is the irony that all of this County Building optimism was a precursor to the most difficult decade in the history of our country. 

Saying Goodbye to our 1000 Readers
June 19, 1930

After Seventeen years it is no small task to say the parting words to old friends and acquaintances, as which the Great County Builder looks upon its thousand readers, some of whom have been subscribers of this great family journal since its first issue in 1887– forty-three years ago.

How time does fly! It has been 44 years since the editor started the Western World at old Boston and seventeen years since taking over the old Springfield Herald–1913–and eleven years since the consolidation with the Baca County Democrat, it then becoming the present Democrat Herald.

We have seen during this time the most wonderful growth of any purely agricultural city in the world, it gradually developed from a berg of a couple dozen unpainted buildings and a population of something like fifty souls, also at that time mostly unpainted and unvarnished, and  little hinky-dinky stores with a handful each of goods– to a city of 1,400 people with a hundred businesses and professional places in the town and mercantile establishments securing stocks of thousands and tens of thousands of dollars worth of goods, some of them actually upward of $50,000 and not sure but the one of them as mere $100,000

During the 17 years the editor has never lost an opportunity to boost for his Town & Country, and believe that we have played no small part in the upbuilding of both, and giving to both the publicity that is made them the most favorably talked of units in the whole last both at home and abroad, and the publicity as a matter of course Accounting for the wonderful transformation of both City and country, has above at line.

The editor believes in the internal law of right, and believes that right — regardless of where it is found, or by what body of man it is promulgated. Believe that right should be the Eternal Rock of one’s convictions, and it should be their policy to “know that they are right” and then go ahead.

With this policy is a guide, we have chosen the party nearest our convictions and in our activities that direction have sometimes stirred up some little resentment among the hot ones on the other side, though among these very ones we can right now count some of our very best friends.

At this stage you want to say that we have the firm Faith to believe the both Springfield and back and County are just now at the threshold, and it inside of 5 years Springfield will be the leading town of the Southwest, and that air that time the Democrat-Herald will become a daily and probably leading daily of the Southwest.

At this splendid outlook we have sold Democrat-Herald to I. C. Ross of Dodge City Kansas and have done so for the soul and whole reason that we have reached the stage in life where the strenuons is no longer appealing and we choose to extend our efforts in other directions that will not call so imperatively for our personal attention; and further than this deponent sayeth not at the present time except to announce that we are not contemplating shaking the dust off our town and country off our feet, though one cannot tell what the future will bring forth.

Having said these words of our self, we want to introduce to you the new owner, Mr. I.C. Ross and his establishment of Dodge City Kansas.

Mr. Ross has won his spurs in the newspaper arena, though not having been active in the harness for a few years. It is a right old saying that having once been in “ink slinging” business period after being out of it a while the fingers begin to tingle for the quill or some other ink slinging device, — now mostly in the shape of typewriters and linotypes and so it was with Mr. Ross.

Mr. Ross for a few years has been running a large job office (a kind of third cousin to a newspaper office)e in Dodge City, finally yielded to the law of journalistic and having visited Springfield several times and seen something of its wonderful development, decided that this was the ideal town for his new journalistic venture–that being the how of this absquatultary  and the introduction of Mr. Ross as the new Great County Builder ramroder.

Thanking both our subscribers and the businessman of Springfield for their favor and liberal patronage and asking the extension to the same to our live-wire successor, we remain yours for a greater Baca County and a greater Springfield.

S.M. Konkel

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