The Beeville Bee

The Beeville Bee, Beeville, Texas, Founded in 1886 by W.O. McCurdy, Age 20.

The Beeville Bee, Beeville, Texas, Founded in 1886 by W.O. McCurdy, Age 20.

W.O. McCurdy Publisher & Editor The Beeville, Bee Beeville, Texas

W.O. McCurdy
Publisher & Editor
The Beeville, Bee
Beeville, Texas

I never met my grandfather. He died of tuberculosis at age 47 in a San Antonio hospital in 1913, about 24 and one-half years prior to my birth in 1937. Santa Rosa Hospital was the same place where Hall of Fame pitcher Rube Waddell would also die, just about a year later at age 37.

My grandfather’s name was William Oscar McCurdy. My father and I were both named for him. He came to Texas from Mississippi in 1886 at the age of 20 and, with a lot of street smarts, hustle, and 19th century “buzz energy”, he single-handedly started The Beeville Bee, a newspaper that still exists today as the consolidated Beeville Bee-Picayune.

What a challenge that must have been. Starting out with a simple George Washington hand press in a reasonably rented loft above a barn, grandfather started cranking out a twice weekly paper while serving also as the Bee’s reporter, writer, editor, printer, publisher, subscription salesman, and circulation director.

He brought with him a classic home education by an itinerant “professor” who lived with the family back home for several years as he home-schooled the McCurdy children in exchange for room and board. He was a classicist, teaching math, science, and literary classics on top of the basic three “R’s” from about age six forward. So, after nine years of same, grandfather graduated himself and moved to Texas in search of his own purpose in the world. After four years of apprenticeship in Victoria, he landed in Beeville and started scraping for his place in the sun as a gentleman of the press.

What a challenge that must have been. Prior to the coming of the telegraph to Beeville in about 1887, the Bee had to reply upon the stories that grandfather could either cover or editorialize about on his own, the “write-ups” of local “doings” that people mailed in, and what the industry back then called patent news stories that the paper received by mail of national events that came in blocks of type that were already in print form.

Even in his early 20’s, grandfather was on top of the fact that “timeliness” was important to anything that went to print, important even in the slow backwater currents of a place like Beeville. In the spring of 1887, some readers in Port Lavaca sent Editor McCurdy a “write-up” of their “Christmas doings”, even though it would mean going to print now only days prior to Easter. Grandfather rejected the story, using part of the freed space to explain his reasons in the following way: “Our local contributors to the Bee need to keep in mind this simple fact: The hoary hand of time has quite a different effect upon local news than it does on homemade wildcat whisky or wine. It doesn’t get better with age.”

When Beeville finally got the telegraph on the heels of the S.A.A.P. railroad that now made a local stop on its way in town, media man McCurdy was in seventh heaven. “Now Beeville is in contact with the outside world,” wrote Editor McCurdy.

Sometimes Editor McCurdy got in a little Dutch trouble with his local readers. When the State of Texas was trying to decide where to build another large state insane asylum, grandfather editorialized this appeal in behalf of Beeville: “If the State of Texas is looking for a geographic locale that will save taxpayers a lot of money on the business of moving lunatics from their homes to the nearest nut house, Beeville would be the perfect site for the new state insane asylum.”

In trying to attract more of the industrious immigrants from Germany that came to Texas in the late 1880’s, Editor McCurdy wrote a long piece which extolled the hard-working, organized nature of German character that made them attractive to the City of Beeville as welcome new neighbors. Then he concluded with … “just because the Germans are also known to sometimes get drunk, miss church, and spend the day playing ball on Sundays, it is not our place to judge them harshly.”

On May 3, 1889, Grandfather McCurdy penned an editorial for the Beeville Bee that probably best summarizes his ideas on what the public expected of their newspaper people back in his day:

“The Mason (TX) News wants an editor who can read, write, and argue politics, and, at the same time, be religious, funny, scientific, and historic as well; write to please everybody; know everything without being told; always have something good to say about everybody else; live on wind; and make more money than enemies. For such a man, a good opening will be made in the graveyard.”

Go back to sleep, Grandfather. You apparently did your part – and did it very well. I could never talk with grandmother about you as a kid and young man without walking away wishing that we could have enjoyed, at least, one conscious day with each other. I had to age a little more to wake up  to the fact that I had been wasting my time and energy on that wistful lamentation. You’ve been with me every day of my life.

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7 Responses to “The Beeville Bee”

  1. Dave Flores Says:

    It obviously runs in the family. How great to know such rich history about your grandpa. Great job Bill, keep up the good work. Also what a bang up job you did this past weekend announcing at our vintage baseball game in Galveston, you sounded much like the icon, Milo Hamilton.
    Best regards,
    Dave / Katy Combine

  2. Tom Flores Says:

    didos…. a little history goes a long way to realize the impact he has on others. Greatly appreciate your contributions to the cause my friend!

  3. Patrick Callahan Says:

    Forget baseball – start writing about Texas (small town) history

  4. Serge Masse Says:

    I truly enjoyed reading this piece of Texas history related to your grandfather.You did inherit a few good genes from him.
    Best regards`
    Serge and Ginette

  5. Star Says:

    How great to know about your family and its History

  6. Mark W. Says:

    Great story. I dk how I missed this column the first time around. f.y.i., I was born in Santa Rosa hospital, 34 years after your grandfather died there.

  7. Mark W. Says:

    Make that 35 years later.

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