This week's issue of the West Side Journal marks the beginning of its 83rd year in publication. L.D. Young, Jr. founded the West Side Journal in 1937. Since then, it has remained as the only newspaper exclusively dedicated to serving the people of West Baton Rouge Parish.
In 1990, Loretta Young purchased the West Side Journal when it went up for Sheriff's Sale and seven years later sold it to the current owner and publisher, George Jenne.
Newspaper Roots in West Baton Rouge
The first newspaper published in Port Allen appeared on September 1, 1852. The Capitolian Vis-a-Vis, a four-page Whig newspaper, was edited and published by Phillip Winfree, Jr. The annual subscription price was $1, and if prepaid, entitled subscribers to advertise descriptions of their runaway slaves free of charge, according to an article published in the July 6, 1944 edition of The West Side Journal.
"Mr. Winfree was a fluent writer and did not hesitate to write what he thought," the article states.
In January 1856, Winfree sold the newspaper to his assistant Henry J. Hyams and two backers of the paper - John S. Gardner and Joseph Joor. Within three months, the partnership dissolved and Hyams took control of the newspaper, changing its name to The Sugar Planter.
The Sugar Planter
Hyams began his career in the news as a newsboy, graduating to a position on the Baton Rouge Gazette before working for the Vis-a-Vis. During the Civil War, several issues of the Sugar Planter were published on yellow wallpaper before being suspended in 1862 when Hyams served as a secret agent to the Confederacy for several years.
Following the war, publication resumed as Hyams reconstructed the printing office, which had been destroyed in the war. He also served in the Louisiana legislature for several years.
Hyams continued publishing The Sugar Planter until his death in 1883. His son, Joseph W. Hyams continued the newspaper until it was sold in 1906 to Francis Whitehead. Leo M. Favrot, Superintendent of Parish Schools, from 1906 to 1908 edited the newspaper for Whitehead in 1907 and 1908. When Favrot left, R.G. Dubroca took over the job of editing for the remainder of 1908 and into 1909. During Whitehead's service in World War I, the newspaper was edited by J.H. Bres, Superintendent of Schools.
The Port Allen Observer
In May 1926, Jake Wade purchased the Sugar Planter from Whitehead. He enlarged the newspaper and changed its name to the Port Allen Observor. In spite of improvements made, the newspaper lasted 11 years. In its last year of publication, it was leased to R.H. Marden.
The Observer was still in publication when the West Side Journal was founded and continued to be put out for three months. Once publication of the Port Allen Observer stopped, the Journal moved into the old Observor's plant, outfitted with a new setup.