Saturday, November 27, 2010

This Week in Texas Methodist HIstory November 28

Louis Blaylock Starts 56 Year Career at Texas Christian Advocate November 30, 1866

One of the longest church related careers in Texas Methodist history began on November 30, 1866 when Louis Blaylock began work for the Texas Christian Advocate as a typesetter. He rose in the ranks and eventually became publisher. When he stepped down in 1922, Blaylock had served the denominational newspaper for fifty-six years.

Blaylock was born in 1849 in Arkansas. His family moved to Texas, and he found work as a typesetter for the Advocate in 1866. The newspaper barely survived the Civil War. It had relocated from Galveston to Houston, but shortages of paper and ink plagued the enterprise. Even before the war, it depended upon subsides from David Ayres and Charles Shearn to stay in business. It survived the war and Reconstruction and flourished as Texas population and Texas Methodist membership increased. Blaylock and his partner, William Shaw, relocated the Advocate to Dallas in 1887 and its circulation reached 18,000, making it the largest circulation newspaper in the state.

Blaylock, as publisher, had to work with a succession of editors who were preachers first and journalists second. The quality of the Advocate was therefore very uneven, and during the 1880s and 1890s contained advertisements that did not bring credit to the church such as those for patent medicines and medical devices hawked by quacks. Each annual conference in the state had an associate editor who forwarded items of revivals, births, deaths, marriages, church consecrations, etc. to the Advocate. The journalistic standards of the era allowed for reprinting stories from other newspapers, and the Advocate followed that policy liberally. Preachers acted as subscription agents and were expected to sell subcriptions to their church members. In return, they received a 50% clergy discount off the $2.00 annual cost--quite a bargain for the fity-two issues.

Besides his career in Methodist journalism, Blaylock served on the building committee for First Methodist Church Dallas and was active in civic affairs. In the early years of the 20th century as Dallas grew and needed more municipal services, Blaylock served as police commissioner, fire commissioner, and finance commissioner. Upon his retirement from the Advocate, he was elected Mayor of Dallas. Since he was seventy-four years old at the time of his election, he was nicknamed “Daddy” Blaylock. He was an able mayor. He died in 1932 and was buried in Oakland Cemetery.


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