Because of frequent name changes, the history of the Paducah Sun, Paducah’s oldest continuously published daily can be confusing. The paper began in 1877 as the Paducah Daily Sun , with a Sunday edition known as the Weekly Sun. It was followed by the Paducah Daily Sun , owned by Frank M. Fisher, who by 1896 had bought the Sun Publishing Company and who two years later consolidated the daily and weekly titles into the Paducah Sun. This singular title was edited briefly by Frank W. Gregory until 1899, when Fisher took hold of the editorial reins. A year later, Fisher was joined by his nephew, Edwin J. Paxton.
In 1901, the Paducah Sun introduced the Sunday Chat for the “quiet of the Sabbath.” By 1902, another version of the paper–the Paducah Sun (Weekly ed.) — appeared on Thursdays, along with the regular daily edition. That same year, the name of the weekly was formally changed to the Paducah Weekly Sun ; it was continuously published until at least 1913. At first, the Weekly Sun was less substantive than its daily sibling, with only four pages compared to the daily’s eight and with national, international, and local news crammed into eight narrow columns of small print. As subscriptions increased and its popularity grew, the Weekly Sun gradually came to resemble its daily counterpart, with six columns of regular type and virtually identical content. In 1906, the Paducah Evening Sun appeared, first under the direction of Paxton and Fisher, and later an associate editor, Elliott C. Mitchell. By 1914, Fisher had retired, selling his share of the paper and the publishing company, leaving Paxton the sole proprietor. The Paducah Evening Sun thrived during these years, with more than 25,000 subscribers in McCracken County and in the surrounding area.
Although the Evening Sun was a more nationally comprehensive paper than most in Kentucky at the time, its reporting nevertheless focused heavily on local developments, many of which involved acts of violence. These included the Black Patch Wars of 1906-1911, when western Kentucky was terrorized by Night Riders, who organized a campaign of intimidation against tobacco farmers unwilling to participate in the pooling of produce. It was not uncommon also to read morbid accounts of racial killings and beatings, written with a flair that would be unacceptable by today’s standards. One typical incident involved a disagreement between a white farmer and his African American tenant, which culminated in a lynching.
The coup de grâce came in 1929, when the staunchly Republican Sun acquired its Democratic rival, the News=Democrat. The two papers were merged into the Sun-Democrat until 1978, when, at the behest of Edwin J. Paxton’s grandson, Jack, it returned to its original title: the Paducah Sun. In 2009, the Paxtons continue to own the Sun, making it one of Kentucky’s oldest familial enterprises.