One of the earliest journalists in our family -- whose coverage helped influence a critical presidential election which saved our nation during the Civil War -- was William Taylor Davidson, husband of Lucinda M. Miner.
The Davidsons resided in Lewistown, Fulton County, IL, where William, overcoming the physical handicap of a withered arm, was editor and publisher of the Fulton Democrat newspaper. In 1858, William covered the famed Lincoln-Douglas debates between future presidential candidates Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas. Two years later, Lincoln won that election, but with only 39.8 percent of the vote, as compared with Douglas' 29.5 percent, leading in part to the secession of Southern states from the Union.
The 1890 book, Portrait and Biographical Album of Fulton County, said that William's "Fulton Democrat, the leading paper of this county, has exercised a marked influence on the affairs of this section of Illinois, and even of the entire State, not only professionally, but as a progressive, public-spirited citizen, and has aided in guiding its political destiny, as well as in guarding and advancing its dearest interests materially, socially and morally."
William attracted bitter enemies. His fellow townsman, Edgar Lee Masters, a world famous poet and author, savaged him in the classic book of American satire, Spoon River Anthology, in which he criticized the myth of moral superiority in small town America and questioned the motives of civic and business leaders. In the poem "Editor Whedon," a pseudonym for William, Masters writes of his willingness "To scratch dirt over scandals for money, And exhume it to the winds for revenge, Or to sell papers, Crushing reputations, or bodies, if need be..."
Lucinda and her parents, Francis and Myra (Jordan) Miner, originally were from Columbus, Franklin County, OH.
Copyright © 2007 Mark A. Miner