Established in 1909
Cross Plains Review is an important resource for citizens and a unique chronicle, recording community development and such events as the death of Robert E. Howard, the 2005 wildfires, and the town’s 100th anniversary. As one of the oldest businesses in Cross Plains, the Review is intertwined with the history of the community.
Cross Plains, at the junction of State highways 36 and 206 in southeastern Callahan County, was established as a post office in 1877. The settlement had previously been known as Turkey Creek and Schleicher. In 1880 Cross Plains had twenty-five residents, a cotton gin, a gristmill, a wagonmaker, and a store; by 1885 it had a population of 175. In 1902 the short-lived Cross Plains Herald was published and edited by J. D. Grains.
The Cross Plains Review, first published and edited by Belmont L. Shields, began publication in 1909 and is still being published.
Belmont L. Shields was an enterprising man. In 1910, when he heard that the railroad was coming through, he decided to move the newspaper office to the area that would be the main section of the new town of Cross Plains. It was initially located down on Turkey Creek, in the area west of the Howard House (now a museum), where most of the town was also located in the early 1900s.
Along with his men and probably lots of helpers, they loaded the press (most likely in pieces) and moved it to the current location. They then reassembled it, set it in the ground, and put out a newspaper. All this within a week. The paper came out late on Friday, but they didn’t miss an issue! The building was built around the press soon after the first issue was printed on it. The newspaper was up and running in Cross Plains even before there was a Cross Plains and Shields largely promoted the town and is responsible for bringing many people into the new town.
By 1910, the year the town was incorporated, the population had grown to 600. The Texas Central Railroad reached Cross Plains in 1912, and the town became a trading center for cotton and other crops. The discovery of oil in 1925 at Pioneer and adjacent fields set off a boom. The population in Cross Plains reached 1,229 in 1940 and remained relatively stable into the 1980s.
By 1925-26 the newspaper had a different owner. He purchased the linotype machine they now have in the office. This was state-of-the-art at the time and other newspaper publishers came to see it. When it came they removed part of the side of the building to bring in the machine and set it up. Once installed they replaced the wall, but then built the brick building around the original wooden building and added the back portion of the building, where the paper cutter is, and the large room behind it. They also added a second floor.
In 1980 the town had a new high school and post office, two motels, four restaurants, and eight churches. The Missouri, Kansas, and Texas Railroad, which absorbed the Texas Central, had abandoned its track in Cross Plains by this time. In 1990 the population was 1,063, and in 2000 the population was 1,068.
Owner and staff
March 1st, 2020 Teri Brown of Cross Plains bought the Cross Plains Review.
The Cross Plains Review was owned by a gentleman in Clyde, about 35 miles from Cross Plains. His family had owned the paper since the mid-1980s. He wanted to sell the building and the old equipment. Months before Teri had made him promise that if he were to close the paper, he had to talk to her first about selling it to her. When he decided to close the paper, Teri reminded him of his promise.
Three weeks later, after Teri bought the paper, the State of Texas shut down due to Covid. There were no events, and no news not related to Covid, so the staff had to get creative.
Teri grew up in Cross Plains but spent 30+ years away from her hometown working in other fields. She and her husband moved back to Cross Plains in 2008. Teri started working at the Cross Plains Review in February 2016. Her mother, Beverly Brown, and her husband had both passed but would have been thrilled when she later bought the newspaper. She first started out as an editor, now Teri is publisher, editor, ad director, and graphic designer.
Her mother Beverly wrote a column, the Cottonwood News, for the paper for years which was very popular.
The current staff consists of:
- Christine Allen who writes articles digs up news and typesets parts of the paper (which Teri then drops into the layout).
- Phyllis Pancake runs the office, takes care of subscribers, and generally keeps everything flowing.
- Teresa Merril-Koenig takes most of the photographs. She also has driven the bus for the tour on Howard Days for the past few years.
- Ray picks up the newspapers and works with Christine on the labeling, bundling, and delivery of the paper.
- Teri handles the actual layout and looks of the paper as well as many other things.
They all work part-time, from about a day a week to a few hours a day. When they are working, they really are working.
The newspaper is published on Wednesday but is actually dated for Thursday. That is the way it has been done for years. In the early days, the paper came on Thursday or Friday.
The last time the old press was used was in the mid-1980s. It was used to print newspapers until then. When the family from Clyde bought the paper, they owned a modern press, so the Review was naturally printed on their press.
Since 2020 the newspaper has been printed in Lubbock. This is the same for the Brownwood and Abilene papers and several others in the area. Both Abilene and Brownwood papers have closed their printing plants.
Also since 2019, the paper has been completely made digitally. They send it electronically to the press in Lubbock.
The old building is now used for showing the old equipment and also a gift shop in the front.
On Howard Days the newspaper opens up to the public and gives a tour of the facilities and tells about the history. They also sell souvenirs, books, signs, and coasters. They also gave away the latest Howard-related newspaper along with other goodies.
While the newspaper industry might be slowly dying, the Cross Plains Review is in its 114th year and they have no plans of shutting down.
Location and contact information
Cross Plains Review
116 E. First Street / P. O. Box 519 Cross Plains, TX, US 76443
Open Mon-Wed: 09:00-16:00
Phone: +1 254-725-6111
Robert E. Howard and the Cross Plains Review
In the June 29, 1923 issue Robert E. Howard had a poem published with the title: “The Sea”.
One of Robert E. Howard’s stories first appeared in the Cross Plains Review. Drums of the Sunset was serialized in 9 parts from volume 19 number 34 (November 2, 1928) to 42 (January 4, 1929). The last issue seems unavailable anywhere, so part 9 is missing from the archive.
Howard spent his late teens working odd jobs around Cross Plains, all of which he hated. In 1924 Howard returned to Brownwood to take a stenography course at Howard Payne College, boarding with his friend Lindsey Tyson. It was while living here that he sold his first story to Weird Tales. But Weird Tales paid on publication and didn’t get paid until July 1925 when the story was printed.
To remedy the lack of money Howard is believed to have taken a job writing up oil news for the Cross Plains Review at $5 per column, but lost his job at the newspaper that same year. None of these columns were signed. This speculation may be based on the fact that at one point the writing style changed, and it might also have been loosely based on a comment Howard made about writing oil field news for several papers, but there seems to be no hard proof that he worked for the Review, though it is not unlikely that he did.
In 1936 after Howard took his own life the Cross Plains Review featured the story and it occupied the entirety of that week’s edition of the Cross Plains Review, along with the publication of Howard’s “A Man-Eating Jeopard“.
Cross Plains Review Newspaper Tour
Cross Plain native Jack Baum gives Howard Days 2016 attendees a tour of the Cross Plains Review. The local paper has been around since 1908. Robert E. Howard worked there in the 1920s covering oilfield news. Also shown are the original newspapers covering Howard’s death and funeral.
Filmed by Ben Friberg.
Sources, credits and more information:
Iam not a scholar and have tried to avoid information I don’t trust or can’t back up. Most of this information is available online. I would like to thank the very kind Teri Brown for providing lots of helpful and informative information. I would also like to thank Rusty Burke for being “ever the editor”. Any corrections, information, and facts are always appreciated.
- Cross Plains Review – Texas Historical Markers on Waymarking.com
- Cross Plains, Texas – Historic Texas
- Robert E. Howard – Wikipedia
- Cross Plains Review (Southwest Collections / Special Collections Library)
- Portal:Robert E. Howard | AoCWiki | Fandom
- Information and pictures from Teri Brown.
- Information/corrections from Rusty Burke.
- Useful help and ideas from Ed Chaczyk
Article created July 2-10, 2022 by Ståle Gismervik. Oil on canvas picture by Steven Knotts. The picture of Teri and of Teri and her mother, Beverly Brown, was provided by Teri Brown. Newspaper tour filmed and edited by Ben Friberg.