History of Clark County Democrat
The Clarke County Democrat
The county’s oldest business institution; established 1856
The Democrat was established in January 1856 by Isaac Grant who moved to Grove Hill from Marengo County where he had helped his brother publish the Jeffersonian in Linden. He married a Clarke County lady, Mary Melissa Pugh, in 1858.
The newspaper’s first home was in a former saloon. Stories are told that there were round holes in the floor, water which had been used for rinsing whiskey glasses was poured through them. A mint bed for years grew on the north side of the building, used, no doubt, for southern mint juleps.
The paper was published all through the Civil War, except for a few weeks near the end of the war.
Isaac Grant served at various times as county superintendent of education, probate judge, and in the State Legislature as both a representative and senator. He was a staunch prohibitionist and a lover of nature. He was active in the early years of the Alabama Press Association.
He published The Democrat for a record 52 years, until his death in 1907 at the age of 79.
That’s when George Carleton, his grandson, took over at the age of 19. Carleton would surpass his grandfather for years at the paper’s helm, publishing it for 63 years. He died in 1972.
Carleton built a new two-story building on the site of the old saloon in 1912. He upgraded the equipment throughout the years. In 1941 a brick two-story building was built on the same site.
The Democrat weathered World War I, the Depression, World War II, and the Civil Rights struggles, amongst other things, during Carleton’s tenure.
Carleton was an avid outdoorsman and wrote about hunting and fishing frequently. He particularly enjoyed turkey hunting and made and sold turkey callers for years.
He was active in the Alabama Press Association and served as president in 1945-46.
In 1930 he married Laurie Cater of Greenville. She assisted her husband in editing the paper and after his death in 1972 edited it along with a son, George Carleton Jr., until it was sold to R.W. McGwier in 1973.
The Democrat was one of the last newspapers in the state to scrap its letterpress and convert to offset printing, doing so in 1973 after McGwier purchased the business.
McGwier sold the business to the current editor-publisher, Jim Cox, in 1984. Cox had started working at the paper in 1981. A native of Clarke County, he started his career at The South Alabamian in Jackson in 1977 after graduating from the University of Alabama.
In 1992, a new building was erected – the first off of the original 1856 site – and the business moved to Highway 43 North. A newspaper press was installed and the actual printing of the paper returned home.