A Look at the 1930s

through Newspaper Advertisements  

By Jacque Nicholson


Hartshorne is home to The Hartshorne Sun, the oldest newspaper in Pittsburg County and tenth oldest paper in the state of Oklahoma. When The Sun published its first issue in February 1895 under the editorship of B. Wilson Edgell, Hartshorne was a fledgling coal mining town.


Within its first decade The Sun had five editors, and Hartshorne became a coal mining boom town and home to a diverse group of immigrants. T.W. Hunter was editing The Sun when the Oklahoma and Indian Territories combined to become the State of Oklahoma in 1907.


Coal was king and the future of Hartshorne looked bright. According to an article in a 1923 issue of The Sun, "That the coal crop of Pittsburg County is annually bringing in and distributing to the miners, merchants and coal producers of Pittsburg County, the enormous sum of six and a half million dollars is a fact disclosed by a report just prepared by J.G. Peterbaugh, president of the McAlester Fuel Company."


Hunter left the paper in 1907, but returned as editor from 1913 through 1923. During those ten years Hartshorne suffered, along with the rest of America, through  a World War, a deadly influenza epidemic, and Prohibition. But Hartshorne was also facing an economic crisis with the decline of its major industry. Shortly after World War I diesel fuel began to replace coal and slowly, but steadily, more and more miners found themselves without work.


Then in 1929, on Black Tuesday, the stock market crashed and millions of Americans would spend the next ten years surviving through the hard, desperate times of the 1930s. It was in this atmosphere of uncertainty and hardship that The Hartshorne Sun was purchased by Elmer and Juanita Thrower.


Twenty-two editors have come and gone during The Sun's 108 years of continuous operation. Jim F. Nicholson has edited the small weekly publication since January 1992, however The Hartshorne Sun has become synonymous with the Throwers who owned, operated and edited the paper for 35 years, the longest tenure of any owner or editor. The Hartshorne Sun closed its doors in July, 2011.


The Throwers bought the newspaper on December 3, 1931, a time when most businesses were struggling and when many ultimately had to close their doors forever due to the impact of The Great Depression. But under their leadership not only did The Hartshorne Sun survive, it thrived.


The following advertisements are taken from the pages of The Hartshorne Sun during the 1930s. They are a true reflection of the economic situation of the times.


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