Woodson, Urey

Urey Woodson, Editor of the Owensboro Messenger and president of the Kentucky Press Association, was born at Madisonville, Kentucky, August 16, 1859. Six years later his parents moved to Evansville, Indiana. In 1877, when only eighteen years of age, his spirit of independence began to assert itself, and he left home and started the Muhlenberg Echo, a small weekly, at Greenville, Kentucky. This paper still lives, a monument to the “nerve” displayed by its founder, though it soon became too small a medium for the exercise of his talent for journalistic work.

At the annual meeting of the Kentucky Press Association, at Hopkinsville, in 1878, Mr. Woodson, who was then only nineteen and looked five years younger, was christened “The Baby Editor,” which appellation clung to him for several years. In September, 1881, Mr. Woodson sold his paper at Greenville and moved to Owensboro, becoming a part owner of the Messenger, then a semi-weekly. The editorial control of the paper was in his hands, and there has been no interruption to the career of prosperity and increasing influence it at once entered upon.

He has since become sole owner of the Messenger, which is now said to be the most valuable newspaper property in Kentucky, using Merganthaler type-setting machines and all modern improvements. Mr. Woodson’s capacity for work is without limit. He is tireless, alert and never resourceless.

He was the first man in Kentucky to give an intimation of the looseness about the office of James W. Tate, state treasurer, four years before he was proven a defaulter. With that instinct for news that amounts almost to intuition with him, he got an inkling of something wrong at Frankfort, and suggested that an investigation would be a good thing. The matter was laughed at and hushed up by Tate’s associates, who declared that they knew his affairs were all straight, and for four years longer the stealing went on.

In his writings sarcasm and ridicule are his favorite weapons, and while he is personally jovial and witty, he makes but little pretensions to humor with his pen. He prefers to deal in a plain-spoken, business like style that is seldom mistaken for the “lighter vein.” There is no more conscientious or influential editor in the smaller cities of Kentucky than Mr. Woodson.

His paper is a power in the politics of his state, and Democracy has no more ardent champion than he is.

When Governor John Young Brown was elected he tendered Mr. Woodson the appointment of railroad commissioner, which position he filled for four years.

For eight or ten years he has been a member of the Democratic state central committee, and was for a term president of the Kentucky Press Association.

Source: Biographical Cyclopedia of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. John M. Gresham Company, Chicago, Philadelphia, 1896.