With its first issue hitting the newsstands in September 1973, the Cherokee Tribune has for 40 years given its readers news from around Cherokee County, the state, the nation and the world.
Through the years, countless crimes, human interest stories, court cases, sports and historic events have been reported on these pages, telling Cherokee County residents the news of the day. Those stories have ranged from the Blizzard of ’93, the long-awaited widening of major commuter route Highway 5, the coming of Interstate 575, the 2009 flooding across Cherokee, hundreds of heated local elections and many points in between.
Even the classified ads have — if only in a small way — told residents the news, like on July 7, 1982, when Howard McFarland wanted all to be on the lookout for his black and white beagle with tan ears, or on Jan. 1, 1992, when a Woodstock resident expressed a need for an “exp’d only” home bird-sitter.
The Cherokee Tribune, which has roots dating back to 1880, officially came to be in September 1973 when the Marietta Daily Journal purchased the North Georgia Tribune, changing the name to the one still used today. The paper was owned by brothers Ralph and Buster Owen of Canton at the time of the purchase.
When the first issue of the newly named newspaper was published Sept. 13, 1973, long-time Georgia Trend Magazine Publisher Neely Young was at the reins.
A graduate of the University of Georgia, Young began his work with newspapers at a young age and was named publisher for the new Cherokee Tribune after working with the Marietta Daily Journal. When he arrived in Canton to take over the paper, Young said he found he had a short staff and a lot of work to be done.
“I probably worked about 60 hours a week,” Young said. “I did it all back in those days. I wrote the columns, wrote a lot of the stories, took most of the pictures. You just did a little bit of everything. I would cover a city council meeting, and (one of the councilmen) would hand me a classified ad.”
In his roughly four years at the Cherokee Tribune, Young recalls fighting for the construction that would eventually come to Highway 5, many hours of driving through Cherokee looking for a front-page photo and spending time with a good-humored but stern judge who would throw out-of-town lawyers in jail if they acted up in his courtroom.
Long before Young, the roots for the Cherokee Tribune were planted in 1880 when Benjamin Franklin Perry Sr., of Marietta started the Cherokee Advance at the ripe age of 20.
The paper would later change hands from Perry’s family in 1921, being sold to Johnnie P. Rudasill. Then, in 1934, one of Cherokee’s most prominent families, the Jones family, started the North Georgia Tribune, which would later consolidate with the Cherokee Advance but stay under the name North Georgia Tribune.
Forty years after the first issue under its name, the Cherokee Tribune remains owned by the Marietta Daily Journal newspaper family, which also includes the Neighbor newspapers in the metro area.
The late Marietta Daily Journal Publisher Otis Brumby Jr. was responsible for the purchase of the Cherokee Tribune in 1973. Today, his son Otis Brumby III is publisher of the paper. He remarked on his family’s path with the newspaper this week.
“I believe that vibrant communities are vital to a newspaper’s success and vibrant newspapers are vital to a community’s success. It has been a blessing for our family and our company to be part of the growth of Cherokee County these last 40 years and we look forward to being a part of the future of such a dynamic place to live, work and play,” Brumby said.
In those 40 years, many changes have come both to the Cherokee Tribune and to Cherokee County.
Cherokee Tribune columnist Juanita Hughes has written a weekly column in the paper for more than 25 years and has watched many things change in that time.
“When I started, sometimes I’d mail it. There was nothing urgent about a column. It didn’t date anything if it was just a human interest column. I was in Woodstock. It wasn’t so simple to get things to Canton. Times were just different,” she said. “Later, I faxed it.”
Cherokee County attorney and Canton native Karl Duff also remembers his days covering politics and sports for the Cherokee Tribune in the late 1970s as different times.
“We developed our own photographs in our own dark room,” Duff said. “(Then) we would take them down to Marietta.”
Duff came to the Tribune after being the editor at a start-up newspaper, the North Georgia Press, which was just yards away from the Cherokee Tribune office in downtown Canton and failed after only a year in business.
“It was a very interesting experience to be in competition between those two papers in such close proximity to each other. You work late at night; you know who else is working late at night, when they’re coming and when they’re going,” he said.
Former Waleska mayor Bruce Waitman also has a history at the Cherokee Tribune, serving as editorial coordinator from about 1978 to 1980.
“At one time or another, I was photographer, reporter, news editor, feature editor,” he said. “Canton was still a small town; Cherokee County was still a small county,” he said. “Everybody knew everybody. That was before 575.”