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Early Years

Oklahoman Published: May 17, 2002
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1895: This drawing, made from an old photograph, shows the first offices of The Daily Oklahoman
Early Years of The Oklahoman
E.K. Gaylord's Pioneer Roots
Building a Newspaper, a City and a State
The Oklahoma Publishing Co.
Redheaded Daily


When young Gaylord decided to invest in The Daily Oklahoman late in 1902, the paper was already 8 years old. The Rev. Sam W. Small, a Georgia native, had established it in January 1894. Before coming to Oklahoma Territory, Small served as editor of a Houston paper, as confidential secretary to former president Andrew Johnson, and as an official reporter for the U.S. Senate.

Small joined the staff of the Atlanta Constitution. He left that newspaper to become an evangelist and soon gained national attention lecturing in favor of Prohibition.

When the evangelist arrived, Oklahoma City had two struggling newspapers, the morning Oklahoma Daily Press-Gazette and the afternoon Oklahoma City Times-Journal. Small was warmly received. He met another visitor, Col. William Rockhill Nelson, the publisher of the Kansas City Star.

Nelson told Small that Oklahoma City needed a better newspaper. Small agreed. Small soon had a vision of establishing a great newspaper in Oklahoma City, one that would influence the territory and later the state and the whole Southwest. He chose the name, The Daily Oklahoman.

Meanwhile, Small made arrangements with Frank McMaster, a job printer, to print The Oklahoman.

1900s: The Lee Hotel was later renamed the Huckins Hotel in downtown Oklahoma City. This postcard illustration was taken only a few years after E.K. Gaylord spent his first night in Oklahoma City there.
Unfortunately, McMaster had made many enemies who soon opposed Small and his paper.

Small wrote copy for the first issue of The Oklahoman while waiting for the printers to arrive from Kansas City, Mo.

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