Enterprise published for 118 years, has celebrated history

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The Bastrop Enterprise stopped the presses March 29, but its memories will live on, as will its 118 years of history in the city of Bastrop, La.

There were several newspapers throughout the beginning of Bastrop's history, but the Enterprise is its most noted and longest lived. It was founded in 1901 by B. F. Schroeder who moved to Bastrop from New Orleans. It was created as a prohibition paper in opposition to the anti-prohibition Morehouse Clarion.

It started as the Morehouse Enterprise and was published weekly. It was first housed in a frame building which unfortunately burned down.

It was eventually sold to Washburn, Pennington, and Riley and the type was hand-set at that time. During those years the paper concerned itself with local news and had special columns as well as crosswords, serialized fiction and comics.

C. G. Scott took ownership in 1921, and soon after, the paper became a twice-a-week publication. Under his ownership the Enterprise Stationary and Office Supply Department was added. This department sold office and school supplies such as pencils, pens, notebooks and typewriters.

During Scott's ownership of the paper, a young man named Nathan Bolton joined the staff. He eventually took ownership and his family owned the paper from 1937 into the 80s.

During Bolton's ownership, in 1952, the Enterprise became a daily with various sections including local news, a homes and garden page, the young set, the farm page, comic strips and editorials. Bolton wrote an editorial himself called Note Bene. The paper also included news from various correspondents in areas such as Bonita, Jones, Mer Rouge and Collinston. Bolton also re-established the Morehouse Clarion as a weekly feature paper.

At this time the paper won various awards including first place in the state for front page make-up in 1957. Bolton himself was elected as president of the Louisiana Daily Newspaper Association. In the 50s, the paper plant was featured in several national publishers magazines.

In the 70s, Bolton sold the paper to Ben Johnson and Bill Chapman, family members who owned the paper through the early 80s.

From the 80s, it continued to be sold to various publishers throughout the years until it came under the ownership of GateHouse.

Until recently, the paper was printed on site. The plant was said to be one of the best in the area. It was one of the first in the nation to convert from letterpress to the photo-offset printing process and was a national leader in converting to computerized typeset equipment. For some time it printed for other newspapers in the state, and many operatives from other papers visited to see the plant. For the past few years, however, the Enterprise has been printed at a company in Pine Bluff.

Many locals worked at the paper or wrote columns throughout the years, some of the most notable being Mildred Nixon Nolan, Addye May Mitcham, "Speedy" Goodnight, Marq Mitcham and Jim Ryder. A number of residents worked as carriers when they were boys.

Through its history the Enterprise could be counted on for all kinds of city news such as legals, weddings, engagements, births, arrests and local news stories.

At one time the paper was touted as one of the best in Northeast Louisiana.

There have been numerous interesting incidents at the paper, including a lost seagull being brought to the office by two policemen and a little white kitten who became the resident rat catcher after being rescued by then society editor Fannie Hobbs.

The Enterprise connected with the community by holding contests for prize money, circus, tickets, toys and other items. The paper also sponsored events such as style shows and pageants. More recently, The Enterprise participated in the Witch Way to Main Street Halloween event, handing out candy to local children.

People on the newspaper staff have come and gone, and many changes have been made in the paper's years of operation, but the Enterprise has remained an important part of the Bastrop community.

Even as the doors shut and the press stops, the many memories and stories of the paper will remain.

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