HISTORY OF THE T.B. BUTLER PUBLISHING COMPANY
More than 85 years after his death, the name and legacy of Judge T. B. Butler live on through the family-owned business which produces East Texas' leading newspapers.
The T. B. Butler Publishing Co., Inc. is in its fifth generation of family ownership, publishing the Tyler Morning Telegraph, the Sunday Tyler Courier-Times-Telegraph and now the online edition tylerpaper.com. We are proud to share this history with our employees.
The Tyler Morning Telegraph has been in publication since 1929, but the newspaper has its roots in the 19th century. Now, in the 21st century, we're proud to continue this legacy with a newspaper that serves Tyler and East Texas.
From almost the very founding of Tyler and Smith County, there has been a local newspaper to keep residents advised of happenings of the day, community leaders and events shaping history.
The company traces its roots to 1877 when two brothers, L. M. Green and J. P. Green, established the weekly Courier. The Courier was converted to a daily newspaper in 1882.
A public stock subscription in 1906 helped pave the way for the consolidation of the Daily Courier and another local newspaper, the Weekly Times, creating The Tyler Courier-Times, Tyler's longtime afternoon newspaper.
In 1910, a fire destroyed the production facility, forcing the newspaper to temporarily print in a job shop using paper not much larger than letterhead stationery.
FAMILY OWNERSHIP BEGINS
Following the fire, the newspaper was acquired by Thomas Booker Butler Nov. 18, 1910.
Butler, a Tyler attorney and respected businessman, has been described as a "many-sided man" who was active in banking, business, church, legal endeavors and newspaper publishing.
Butler was born Jan. 14, 1867, in the Starrville community of Smith County, the son of Sallie F. Holt and James Wiley Butler. His father served as Smith County sheriff in the 1870s and was a deputy U. S. Marshal and U. S. District Court clerk in Tyler.
His mother was the daughter of Col. Thomas B. Holt, a well-known planter and one of Smith County's early settlers.
Thomas Booker Butler was one of four children. His siblings were Leberta, Henry and Lee.
As a boy, he often spent time on the 1,100-acre farm established in 1853 in Starrville by his grandfather, Col. William Booker Butler Sr., who was known as Booker Butler.
He attended Tyler public schools after the family moved to town and was later a student at Tyler Academy. After leaving school, he worked as a deputy sheriff under his father.
EARLY LEGAL CAREER
Butler later turned to the legal profession and, without college training, prepared for admission to the bar by working in the law offices of James S. Hogg and H. B. Marsh. Hogg became Texas attorney general and governor of Texas. Marsh served as Hogg's assistant in the attorney general's office.
In 1887, Butler was admitted to the bar and formed a partnership with Marsh and N. W. Finley.
On Dec. 26, 1889, he married Sallie Cain in the Cain home at 410 W. Erwin St., which is now the site of the newspaper offices. The Butlers had four children: Carrie Lee Bothwell, Sarah Butler, Emma Eloise Clyde and T. B. Butler, Jr.
Butler was appointed Smith County judge in 1894. He served one term and returned to private practice at the law firm of Butler & Lasseter.
In 1902, Butler was appointed by Gov. Joseph Sayers to fill an unexpired term as judge of the 7th Judicial District Court in Smith County. After filling the term, Butler returned to private practice, this time at Fitzgerald & Butler.
Butler later moved to Dallas to serve as president and business manager of the Baptist Standard, a publication of the Southern Baptist denomination. During his 18 months there, Butler was credited "with putting the paper on a sound financial basis, and increasing its subscription list from 20,000 to 30,000," according to an article in the Chronicles of Smith County, Texas.
After being told he was diabetic and had two years to live, Butler left the Baptist publication and returned to Tyler to get his affairs in order, family members said.
In those days, there was no medical knowledge of how to treat diabetes. Insulin was first used in 1922, three years after his death.
Butler actually lived about 12 more years and achieved some of his greatest accomplishments during that time. He retired from practicing law in 1910 in order to devote more time to his business interests.
"The History of Texas and Texans" says Butler "had demonstrated his success as a dealer and trader, and had amassed, chiefly through the medium of real estate, a competency sufficient to permit him to engage in financial pursuits."
His major pursuit was organizing Guaranty State Bank which began in 1910 with a capital of $100,000. Butler served as the bank's president until retiring Oct. 24, 1918, due to his failing health.
Over the years, the bank evolved into Citizens National Bank, Citizens First National Bank and what is now the Regions Bank in downtown Tyler.
Butler also served as president of Burks-Walker Furniture Co., was a director at the East Texas Investment Co., the Swann Wholesale Furniture Co. and the Commercial Club of Tyler. He also owned a half-interest in the Tyler Hardware Store, which was on North Broadway Avenue.
THE NEWSPAPER ERA
On Nov. 18, 1910, a front-page notice in the Daily Courier-Times told of the sale of the publication to Butler and his associates. The company, which began in 1877, had suffered severe losses from a fire just prior to the sale and the subscription list was the sole remaining asset, according to accounts.
"Under the leadership of Judge Butler, the Courier-Times set an early pattern of community leadership," according to an historical account in a company publication. "During the first four years of his ownership, the newspaper led a successful campaign to construct a modern streetcar system with seven miles of track and was highly instrumental in the abolition of the old ward system of city government, it being replaced in 1915 by the city manager form of government, making Tyler the fifth city in the state with this new form of municipal administration."
Butler died April 10, 1919, and ownership of the newspaper passed half to his wife, Sallie, and half to their children: Tom B. Butler, Jr., and daughters, Mrs. S. H. Bothwell, Mrs. Sarah C. Butler and Mrs. Calvin Clyde Sr.
Key management duties in the early 1920s were handled by Henry Arch McDougal and, from the latter part of the decade through 1934, by Carl Estes.
Tom Butler, Jr., who also worked for the newspaper, was killed in a car accident in 1931. From the mid-1930s until about 1943, Jim Donahue was editor and a lead manager.
Sarah Butler, who began working at the newspaper shortly after her father's death, later became general manager and publisher. Her active management years ranged from the early days of World War II until 1951, but she retained the title of publisher until her death in 1981.
She was followed as general manager by Calvin Clyde Jr., her nephew, who became president when the firm incorporated in 1973. He retired in 1990 and his son, Nelson Clyde III, was elected as president and publisher by the board of directors.
JD Osborn became general manager and later vice president/administration. Corporate Vice President Thomas Clyde was promoted to chief financial officer, and A. J. "Jim" Giametta moved from managing editor to executive editor.
In 1991, Nelson Clyde IV was elected to the board of directors. He served as advertising director and vice president/sales and marketing until 2005 when he became associate publisher.
Operations Manager Andrew Clyde was elected as a director in 2004.
Another descendant of Judge Butler, Jim Bothwell is a member of the board. He succeeded his mother as a director and worked many years for the company before pursuing ranching interests, which include raising registered Longhorn cattle. Prior to her death in 2000, Mrs. Bothwell served as a director, succeeding her late husband David Bothwell.
In recent years, Directors W. E. "Buddy" Hendley, business manager and company treasure, and Everett Taylor, editor-in-chief, passed 50 years of employment with the newspaper.
Roy Houston, press maintenance and a former press department manager and JoAnne Smith, national advertising manager, also exceeded the half-century mark.
Shortly after the fire, the newspaper began operating at 215 N. College Ave., where it had better access to the rail transportation that delivered printing paper.
The Tyler Morning Telegraph, which featured expanded coverage of East Texas cities, debuted Nov. 14, 1929. The Courier-Times continued to focus on Tyler news for subscribers within the city limits. The Sunday edition was renamed the Tyler Courier-Times-Telegraph.
Facing a demand for more space to accommodate growth, the company moved in 1950 to its present location, 410 W. Erwin St. Since then, several building expansion and remodeling projects have taken place.
Beginning in the 1970s, the popularity of morning-delivery newspapers soared, and the number of subscribers to the Courier-Times declined. On Oct. 31, 1995, the company ended publication of its afternoon newspaper.
In a letter to readers on the front page of the final Courier-Times, Nelson Clyde III thanked readers, advertisers and employees and closed by saying, "We'll see you in the morning."
NATIONAL, REGIONAL RECOGNITION
The Courier-Times received national attention when it brought the world the story of the New London School explosion of March 18, 1937.
In 1962, the Courier-Times was the first daily newspaper to print a three-color picture made on an electronic engraving machine directly from a color print. The photograph of Robert E. Lee and John Tyler high school football captains appeared on the front page Nov. 2, culminating more than a year of experimenting with electronic modifications to the newspaper's Photo-Lathe machine.
The next month, the Courier-Times became the first to print an electronically filter-produced color photograph in a newspaper advertisement. Editor & Publisher, the newspaper trade journal, ran a one-page story about the pioneering color reproduction work.
In January of 1959, the newspaper installed a 90-ton press that doubled page capacity and printing speed. The new press provided for the single printing of a 64-page paper with extra color on several pages at a speed of more than 30,000 papers per hour.
In 1968, the newspaper installed equipment to access what was billed as the world's fastest newspaper picture service. Described as a "marvel of the science of modern communications," it provided the ability to run pictures the same day of events taking place anywhere in the world.
In 1975, a new Harris 845 press was purchased and newspapers were printed using the offset process. Major modifications were made to the press in 1987, 1995, 2004 and 2005.
In 1995, the editorial department became the first of the company's departments to receive a computer system that allowed for pagination, or the compilation of all elements of a full newspaper page on a computer screen and outputting it to film used for a printing plate. The newspaper reached full pagination in October 2001.
In 1997, the company acquired a new inserting machine and made related building changes that represent more than a half-million dollar investment to improve the operating efficiency of its newspapers.
The moves were centered around the installation of a remanufactured Harris 1372 Inserter, which is used for combining newspaper sections and advertising inserts.
Andrew Clyde, operations manager, said the inserter represents the biggest upgrade in mailroom service since T. B. Butler Publishing initiated mechanized inserting in the early 1970s. The machine allowed the company to customize advertisers' inserts for the delivery to different zones of its circulation area.
"The overall cost of the project was in excess of $500,000 and we view this as an investment in the future that will give us increased production speed, get papers to our customers faster and allow us to maintain later deadlines as we grow," Clyde said.
T.B. Butler Publishing Co., inc., was recognized Nov. 3, 2005, as Baylor University's "Texas Family Business of the Year" during an awards ceremony in Waco.
The honor, granted by the university's Institute for Family Business, recognizes companies whose families demonstrate a commitment to their communities and strong business family values.
Nelson Clyde III, president and publisher, believes the award is particularly meaningful because of the dual dynamics of family and business.
Company officials accepted the award on behalf of their predecessors, employees, their families and customers.
Consistent quality achievements by all newspaper departments continue to be recognized at the state and national levels.
The paper has regularly been recognized for editorial excellence. In April 2006, the Tyler Morning Telegraph was honored with the Headliners Foundation of Texas Charles E. Green Award for the "star breaking news report of the year" in 2005.
The award, which recognized the Tyler staff's first-day coverage of the Feb. 24 shooting rampage at the Smith County Courthouse, was given to the overall winner among the honorees from all sizes of Texas daily newspaper, both large and small. The Headliners award was given in conjunction with the Texas Associated Press Managing Editors editorial excellence awards.
For work by medium-sized newspapers in 2005, the Texas APME recognized the Tyler paper with a first place award for "breaking news report" and first place in "team effort" for coverage of the courthouse shootings, second place to staff writer Kenneth Dean in the feature series category, and honorable mentions to Jacque Hilburn in specialty reporting, Kimberly Allen-Worner for headline writing, and the news and photo staffs for photojournalism in coverage of the shooting of the Canton football coach.
In 2004, police reporter Jacque Hilburn was honored as the Texas APME/Headliners Foundation as the Star Reporter of the Year in medium-market newspapers, and Dr. Scott Lieberman won a first place in spot news photography for his photos of the space shuttle Columbia disintegrating over East Texas. In 2005, the APME bestowed six awards on the Tyler paper, including first place awards for Freedom of Information, first for business writing, and second place for investigative reporting.
The Southern Newspaper Publisher's Association has ranked the newspaper third in its Outstanding Print Quality competition.
Tyler Morning Telegraph staff projects have been honored with the prestigious Texas Bar Association Gavel Award in 1994, 1995, 1998, 2000 and 2004, for stories involving the judicial process.
The Press Club of Dallas has recognized the Tyler Paper for journalism excellence with five prestigious Katie Awards. The most recent was awarded in 2005 for "Best Spot News in a Medium Market" for the paper's coverage of the Feb. 24 shooting rampage at the Smith County Courthouse. The paper has been awarded four other Katie Awards and was named a finalist in six of the last eight years.
The Texas State Teachers Association and Delta Kappa Gamma Society honored the newspaper for coverage of education news in 1998 and 2004.
In 2005, Religion Editor Patrick Butler won third place in the Amy Foundation's national religion writing competition and was a finalist in the national Religion Newswriters Association competition.
In 2000, the newspaper received first place awards from the Southwest Classified Advertising Managers Association for the Best Classified Promotion, and Best Spot Color.
The paper won the Barbara Jordan Award, sponsored by the Texas Governor's Committee on People with Disabilities, in 2000.
The East Texas Regional Branch of Prevent Blindness Texas presented the newspaper and the Clyde and Bothwell families the 1999 People of Vision Award. The annual award recognizes community service.
In 2001, the company received the Outstanding Philanthropic Corporation award from the East Texas Communities Foundation.
In 2002, Nelson Clyde III and the Tyler Morning Telegraph received the Martin Luther King, Jr. Award for non-violent social change from the Ministerial Alliance.
In 2003, a Pulitzer Prize nomination was received by the newspaper, the Associated Press and Dr. Scott Lieberman, whose photos of the Space Shuttle Columbia's re-entry were distributed around the world in a joint effort within just a few hours after the tragedy.
In 2003, the newspaper received a Gold Medal Award from the Southwest Classified Advertising Managers Association for Best Multiple Participation Ad.
In 2004, the newspaper received a Gold Medal Award from the Southwest Classified Advertising Managers Association for Best Campaign.
In 2004, the newspaper received a Best New Special Section Idea Award from the Midwest Newspaper Advertising Executives Association.
In 2005, the newspaper received a Gold Medal Award from the Southwest Classified Advertising Managers Association for Best Business Idea.