A BRIEF HISTORY
According to Waycross-Ware County historians, the origin of today’s paper and Web editions of the Waycross Journal-Herald can be traced back to the first newspaper published in Waycross, the Waycross Headlight, edited by Dr. Daniel Lott and Dr. William B. Folks, two of the city’s founders. Interestingly, the paper was first published in nearby Pearson but was relocated to the larger city of Waycross in 1876.
It changed ownership many times until it finally merged with publication of The Reporter in 1888. Its manager was Judge Joe Tillman.
Several years later, The Reporter became the property of Daniel Sweat, and it was he who laid the foundation for what would one day become the Waycross Journal-Herald. He sold The Reporter to a stock company and new, updated equipment was purchased. “Upon the grave of The Reporter, was born The Waycross Herald,” wrote Ware County historian Laura S. Walker.
After several years, The Waycross Herald became the property of Judge A.P. Perham, who published the first daily newspaper in this city, known as the Waycross Evening Herald. In 1912, Perham retired and sold the newspaper to L.J. Cooper.
In October of 1895, the first issue of The Waycross Journal came off the press. Although it was a weekly, it was successful. Its owner was John Greer.
Ownership of The Waycross Journal changed hands in 1904 when W.A. Price and Volney Williams took over. At this time, The Waycross Journal was a semi-weekly newspaper.
In 1911, The Waycross Journal became a daily morning newspaper with rising circulation. In 1914, the Waycross Evening Herald and the Waycross Daily Journal were consolidated to form the Waycross Journal-Herald, with Jack Williams Sr. serving as business manager. In 1916, Williams assumed outright ownership of the Waycross Journal-Herald and served as its editor and publisher until his death in 1957.
Following Jack Sr.’s death, his only son, Jack Williams Jr., became publisher. He also served as editor for a few years; however, Jim Pinson was eventually hired to fill the editor’s chair. This reportedly occurred in the early 1960s.
Jack Williams Jr. served as publisher for 35 years and was still working when he passed away on June 18, 1992. At that time, he was succeeded by his youngest son, Roger L. Williams, who was named publisher on July 3. Roger’s brother, Jack Williams III, had already been promoted to the editor’s chair in January of 1990.
As of this writing, both third generation members of the Williams family continue to serve in their respective positions, and it is hoped that the ownership of the Waycross Journal-Herald, “South Georgia’s Greatest Newspaper,” will one day pass on to fourth and fifth generations of the Williams family.
by Roger L. Williams