History of The Iola Register

For almost as long as there’s been an Iola, Kansas, there’s been an Iola Register, in one form or another.

The newspaper began in 1867 as The Allen County Courant, eight years after Iola was founded.

W.H. Johnson was publisher of the weekly. In 1868, Messrs. H.W. Talcott and N.F. Acers purchased The Courant and renamed it The Neosho Valley Register.

The Register office in 1875 was above the Cowan and Ireland grocery store on the south side of the square.

Even from its beginning, the newspaper put community first. In 1867, Mr. Johnson wrote:

“The paper will be conducted first as a local paper and that politics will be secondary, but that, believing the Republican party to be the nearest to right, it would take upon itself the Republican faith.”

Context is everything. The Republican Party had been founded only a decade earlier on a premise against slavery. In 1860, Abraham Lincoln was the Republican presidential nominee. In 1861, the Civil War commenced, solidifying the Republican Party as that which stood behind equal rights for all.

Iola was established as the county seat in 1865. The population hovered around 600.

Today, hiccups in technology can interfere with the timely production of a newspaper. Back in the 1860s, the challenges were more concrete.

An excerpt from the July 28, 1869 edition describes the barriers of the day.

“The late appearance of this week’s Register, the failure to issue one for last week, and the appearance of a half sheet for next week, are all owing to the fact that we were disappointed in procuring paper. We had a supply at Ottawa at the time, sent for it by a man with a team (of horses) in time, which man promised to bring it, but who, after an absence of two weeks, returned without it.”

Later that year, Nelson Acers divested himself of ownership of the Neosho Valley Register, though its success had been measurable.

“The Register has nearly tripled its circulation, has enlarged from a seven- to an eight-column paper and has added material to the office in proportion to the increasing demands and prosperity, growth and advancement of the town and country.”


THE JOY of looking through 150 years of the Register is to see how it reflected the tenor of the day — warts and all.

“The city council passed a resolution declaring that it would enforce the law passed by this session of the state Legislature decreeing that every male citizen between the ages of 21 and 45 would be required to do two days of work on the public highways each year, or provide a substitute to work for them or pay a tax of $1.50 a year.

Amazing!

The Neosho Valley Register officially changed its name to The Iola Register in 1875, along with its ownership to Mssrs. Allison and Perkins. The newspaper then was on the second floor above the Cowan and Ireland Grocers on the south side of the square.

The editorial in that first issue stated that “The Register will be independent in all things, and will be radical in the support of freedom, justice, and equal rights to all.”

By 1876, it seemed the Register was on its last legs.

Though Allen County’s population had swelled to 6,638 by 1875, times were hard due to a pernicious drouth and blight by grasshoppers and chinch bugs. Advertising had dropped by half and readers reneged on their subscriptions.

After an editorial announced the paper’s impending closure, loyal readers pledged their support and the paper lived to see another day.

Nelson Acers, an Iola lawyer and one-time owner of the Register’s predecessor, the Neosho Valley Register, developed the Mineral Wells Hotel and resort around a pond through which bubbled natural gas. The sulphur in the gas gave the water a strong taste and made it a popular medicine. The hotel was just to the south of today’s entrance to Riverside Park.

Later that year, former publisher Nelson Acers opened The Acers House “healing waters” mineral well. A hotel and spa was built around a pond through which bubbled natural gas. The sulphur in the gas gave the water a strong taste and made it a popular “medicine.” Acers, an Iola lawyer, sold bottled Mineral Wells water far and wide for its curative powers.

This is what Washington Street between Madison and West looked like in 1877. From left, the buildings housed A.E. Wright Grocery, the Masonic Lodge, with J.W. Scott’s drugstore on the ground floor along with Monroe Goforth’s grocery; Casmire and Miester Hardware, Kuhne’s Saloon and, and at the beginning of the next block, the Northrup Banking House, the first bank in town. Plank sidewalks gave customers a chance to scrape the mud off their shoes before they shopped.

THE REGISTER got on more solid footing when Charles F. Scott took the helm in 1882.

We can say that in confidence because today’s publisher, Susan Lynn, is the great-granddaughter of Mr. Scott.

Charles’s journalistic path began in fits and starts.

Charles was the son of J.W. Scott and his wife, Maria, who moved to Iola in 1958. J.W. was a physician who had a practice in Johnson County, Indiana, before heading west. In Iola, he ran a drugstore. 

Upon Charles’s graduation from the University of Kansas in 1881, his father gave him $10, a gift he remembers as the last of its kind. “That was the cash capital with which I began life. I never had a dollar thereafter that I didn’t earn,” he wrote.

He used the money to head west, then south, trying his hand at clerking in a hardware store in Silverton, Colo., as a copyist in the office of the county clerk in Socorro, N.M., ending as a bookkeeper and clerk for a railroad contractor in Albuquerque. Just as that business was failing, Scott received word that The Register was for sale. 

When he reached home in 1882 he had $250 to show for 18 months of labor. He was 22 years old. He paid $200 down for a fourth interest in the paper. His partners were his brother, Angelo C. Scott, and E.E. Rohrer. At the end of two years he bought his brother’s interest and, a year later, the interest of Mr. Rohrer.

Charles F. Scott purchased the weekly Iola Register in 1882 a year after graduation from the University of Kansas. His brother, Angelo, and Edward R. Rohrer were silent partners.

One of Scott’s first duties as publisher was to raise subscription rates, which were $1.50 a year for 52 copies. Scott asked that subscribers pay their bills in a more timely manner, i.e., monthly rather than quarterly, as had been the custom in the past. 

As for Angelo Cyrus Scott, journalism was never his intent. Angelo received a BA from the University of Kansas in 1877, and his law degree from George Washington University in Washington, D.C. in 1885. After practicing law for several years in Iola, he and his brother, Winfield Scott, struck out for the Oklahoma Territory, settling in Oklahoma City where he established a law practice. 

Scott served in the Oklahoma Legislature as a senator. He and Charles also established OKC’s first newspaper, The Oklahoma Daily Journal, in 1889. 

In 1898, he joined the faculty of Oklahoma A&M College in Stillwater, now Oklahoma State University, from 1899 to 1908. He was appointed its fifth president in 1899, serving for the next nine years. He later taught at Oklahoma City University, where he was chairman of its English Department, retiring in 1931. He died at age 92 in Oklahoma City.

The Register was located at the corner of Washington and Madison for many years. In the 1800s, the Iola Opera House, which seated 500, was on the second floor.

CHARLES SCOTT started off the bat at The Register as a vigorous Republican as well as an articulate essayist who did not hesitate to speak his mind. His style was strong and forthright. 

He was a cheerleader for everything Kansas.

In 1887 he wrote:

“And thus it has been from the beginning of the book. Kansas, as they say out West, don’t fear nothing. The thing she undertakes is the thing she does. The road she starts on is the road she travels. She is never discouraged. She never sulks. She never gets rattled. Steadfastly, buoyantly, with tireless energy, with the keenest intelligence, wit and with courage that no disaster can daunt, she is climbing to the shining stars. And the world loves her.”

In fact, perhaps he saw her possibilities through rose-colored glasses. Just a week later he wrote: 

“When Kansas is as densely populated as New England, it will hold 33 million people, and the day is coming.”

In 2020, we’ve yet to surpass 3 million residents.

The Register set type for its newspaper with a Linotype like this in 1895 and the technology remained virtually unchanged up into the 1970s when photo-typesetters and offset printing revolutionized the industry. From 1976 to 2000, new typesetting technology was developed about every six years.

After only six years at the helm, Charles sold his interests in the Register to his older brother, Walter Winfield Scott in 1888.

He writes of the decision:

“When a man lived with a newspaper for nearly six years, worked with it by day and sat up with it by night, made it the object of his thoughts, the center of his hopes and ambitions, it becomes in some way a living, conscious thing to him and he does not lightly cast off the ties that bind it to him.

“It is because all of these conditions have been present that I hesitated much before taking the step that renders the above announcement necessary.

“In leaving the Register, I only exchange one field of newspaper work for another, having bought the Lawrence Tribune, daily and weekly, of which I assume charge next week. The new field is a larger one and offers opportunity for more work, if not for more pay.

“Lawrence has the reputation, I know, of being the graveyard of newspapers, and it must be admitted that a good many have been buried there. I have a sort of faith, though, that the Tribune will stay above ground. 

“The foregoing extremely personal remarks may seem uncalled-for. But when one has been in the habit of talking to a certain lot of people once a week for several years, he comes whether justly or not, to think they have a special interest in him as well as he in them, and doesn’t like the idea of leaving them without a word or two by way of farewell.

And so, Goodbye; and in the words of Tiny Tim, ‘God Bless us, every one.’ Charles. F. Scott.”

The venture was short-lived, only to be supplanted by another one in less than a year’s time.

In January 1889 the Register printed this news item about C.F.S.:

“It may interest the Allen County friends of Charles F. Scott to learn that he has sold the Lawrence Tribune in order to accept a flattering offer made to him by the Topeka Capital-Commonwealth to represent that enterprising journal at Washington during the remainder of the present session of Congress. After that is over he will probably go abroad for a few months, but will of course return eventually and enter again into Kansas journalism.

“A man who has been in the newspaper work as long as he has hardly ever gets away from it and one who was born in Kansas never seriously thinks of making his home anywhere else.”

It only took until March of that year that Charles F. Scott returned to Iola and the Register — for good.

Also occurring in 1889:

“Last week’s Register was the first paper ever printed in Iola by steam power, and we believe it is now the only paper between Ottawa and Winfield using steam. We have a four horsepower upright boiler and a three horsepower horizontal engine. It occupies very little room, but handles the large Prouty press without any apparent effort, turning out papers at the rate of 20 per minute.

“Drop in and see it work.”


The Iola Register becomes a daily

In 1897, The Iola Register put on long pants and changed from a weekly to a daily newspaper. Iola was growing at the same time. That was the year when the great gas boom really got underway and sent Iola roaring into a 10-year expansion that quadrupled its population and turned it from a village into a city.

Charles F. Scott was also a U.S. Congressman-at-large for 10 years, from 1901 to 1911. In such a position, Scott was elected by all the voters of Kansas, not just those of a single congressional district.

Scott was a friend to three presidents and at least six Kansas governors.

In a letter to Register readers during the 1906 Congressional session Scott wrote of then-President Theodore Roosevelt:

“It is never very hard to get to the President of the United States. Every day, except Sunday, between the hours of 10 and 12 any Congressman will conduct any of his constituents to the White House and present him to the President who is always ‘dee-lighted’ to see him.”

This political cartoon appeared in the Register in 1906 to comment on Iola’s running battle with the city’s illegal saloons and bootleggers. Mayor H.V. Dresbach was accused of turning a blind eye on sales of booze and trying to keep a lid on the scandal by the anti-liquor editor, Charles F. Scott.
The New York Store featured clothing and dry goods. It was located on the southwest corner of the square across from the Register building on South Washington. Most of Iola’s business houses had canvas awnings that protected shoppers from the rain and kept the stores a little cooler in the summer.

IN 1909, Iola had three newspapers, The Iola Daily Record, The Iola Daily Register and The Iola Register Publishing Company. 

“Competition is the life of trade,” wrote Daily Register publisher F.W. Brewster of the transactions. “But it may also be the death of profits. Liberal as our patrons have been, income has not been sufficient to justify the publication of three expensive newspapers nor made it possible for any of them to reach the standard of excellence to which their publishers aspired.”

Scott survived the competition with The Iola Register Publishing Company.

In 1921, The Iola Register depended almost exclusively on girls and young women to deliver the paper.
The Register moved into its two-story brick building at 302 S. Washington in April of 1926. A miswired switch cut off power to the building and the first issue had to be printed using power from a Fordson Tractor which was kindly provided by the McCarty Machine shop a few blocks away.
George Williams, circulation manager of the Register, left with the tall black hat, posed with the Iola Register carrier crew in 1930 on a brick sidewalk somewhere on the Iola square.
The Register building was built in 1926 on the side yard of the publisher’s house on 306 S. Washington. The Depression canceled plans to raze the house and build a residence elsewhere. A corner of the house can be seen at the left. The north yard with its towering elms remained. It was later turned into a parking lot. In subsequent years, the ivy was removed due to the mess — and noise — caused by harboring birds. The building remains the home of The Register.

THE YEAR 1932 marked Charles F. Scott’s 50th year at the helm of the Register. 

He had this to say of the anniversary: 

“As one tries to project his imagination into the future, 50 years seems a long time. Who can so much as make a guess as to what sort of a town Iola will be like in 1982 or what sort of a newspaper The Register will be when my grandchildren celebrate the centennial of the Scott ownership! But as one turns his mind backward, the years are foreshortened and it doesn’t seem so long since 1882.”

Charles F. Scott died in 1938 at the age of 78. He had been publisher of The Iola Register for 56 years. In addition to serving as a member of Congress, he was inducted into the Kansas Newspaper Hall of Fame.

Charles F. Scott, publisher of the Register since 1882, died Sept. 19, 1938 at the age of 78.

ANGELO CAMPBELL SCOTT succeeded his father as publisher.

Angelo C. Scott

The transition came naturally for Angelo who had worked at the paper since boyhood. Even so, Angelo was not a little daunted following in his father’s footsteps.

These are his comments on his father’s passing:

“When I was very young I felt my father to be a little bit austere. I inherited little of his incredibly inflexible will to do what was right – a will so strong that I believe to this day he scarcely knew what the word “temptation” meant. Every temptation that the condition of youth can devise assailed me, and for every time I was able to stand, a dozen times I fell.

“‘I can’t understand,’ he would say, ‘why you do a thing when you know it is wrong.’ This simple accusation would sting my guilty conscience to the quick and I would defend my self respect by feeling that he was callous to the burning problems of my youth just because he was “old” and no longer had any problems of his own.

“But as I advanced in years and discovered that there is no age limit to problems, I discovered too that there was no limit at all to the sympathy and the kindness of the man whom I thought to be austere. In fact, if my father deliberately committed one unkind act in his entire life, I haven’t known it.

“It was simply and literally true that he couldn’t understand why people did what was wrong when they knew what was right. For to him, it was as natural and inevitable as the rising sun that once having determined what was right, he should do it.

“Indeed it may be said that my father’s entire life has consisted of doing what he felt to be right – and doing it with a singleness of purpose and a concentration of energy that I have never seen in another man.

“He felt it was right to be a Christian and go to church. So he went to church every Sunday morning and every Sunday evening of his life that he was not ill. He felt that it was right for a church member to do his share of the church work, so he taught a Bible class for more than a quarter of a century. He felt that a Christian should support his church, so he gave his money as freely as he gave himself.

“He felt it was right to be a Republican! In truth, there was little difference between the genuine religious zeal which he stormed the ramparts of the Democrats and the equal fervor with which the Crusaders of old purified the earth with the red blood of Mohammedans. If Republicanism was not a religion with my father, certainly it was the next thing to it.

“Believing Republicanism to be right he fought for it with might and main, and his blows were as freely given before he held office and after he held office as during that time. My father was one of the few men I know who asked nothing of politics but the joy of fighting for a cause he believed in. If he ran for office at all, it was because he felt that it was right for a man with ability to serve his country. And if he got elected, he served his country, not himself or future political career. If he was not elected, he served the next best way he knew how.

“He believed – if he believed anything – that it was right for a man to work at his job. So he worked at his job with a capacity for concentration and industry that shamed every employee he had … He believed with equal sincerity that it was right for a man to play … so he mixed his play with his work in abundant proportions. Golf, travel, and summers of loafing in the mountains of Estes Park were his special delights … he climbed the mountains, fished for the trout and sat on the porch of our cabin just smoking his pipe and drinking in the ever-changing beauty and grandeur of the mountains…

“The tragedy in my father’s passing did not come last Sunday night. It came last April when he learned – not that he was about to die – but that he was becalmed in his voyage beyond the sunset and the paths of the western stars: that he was helpless longer to seek or to find or to strive; that he had to yield.

“He never asked a doctor how long he might live. He always asked him: ‘When can I go back to work again? When can I take up where I left off? When can I start doing the things I ought to be doing?’

“He probably started doing them again with the turn of the midnight clock last Sunday. If there is a place beyond the stars where every man spends his time doing what he feels to be right, doing it for the joy of it and the love of it and because he couldn’t do anything else even if he would, certainly my father flew swiftly there to lose no time in taking things up where he left off. Such a place would surely be Home to him. — A.C.S.”

In 1939 The Iola Daily Register became The Iola Register, because as Angelo Scott wrote: 

“The reason for choosing the shorter name is that a four-word firm name is a nuisance in filling out the 427 government reports required annually of newspapers these days.”

Roy Varner, foreman of the Iola Register job printing shop, retired in 1954. He had been with the Register’s job department since 1916 and was known across the state as a master craftsman.

Angelo Scott’s tenure included the years of World War II, which provided a showcase of his writing talent. By June of 1940, with Europe in the throes of war, Scott wrote:

“Here in the quiet plains of Kansas it still is almost a mental impossibility to comprehend the scope of what is happening in Europe and what those happenings are likely to mean to the future of America. As we see the anchors of civilization tossed overboard, one by one, as we see an orderly world descend to chaos and destruction, we just can’t quite believe it.”

In the aftermath of the Dec. 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, he wrote:

“It has been suggested that it was part of the strategy of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor to intimidate and terrorize the American people. One effect was to frighten 40,000 young Americans right into the Navy, 60,000 into the Army and thousands more into the Marine Corps, all during the remainder of the month of December, an all-time high record.”

Afflicted with rheumatic fever as a youth, which resulted in a weakened heart, Scott was denied entry into the U.S. Armed Forces. 

This November 1942 news item relayed Scott’s application to become a soldier.

“Angelo Scott and Ev Harlan went to Leavenworth yesterday to take pre-induction physical examinations for the army. Mr. Harlan passed and will probably enter the service within the coming 30-60 days. Mr. Scott will have to return tomorrow for a final check concerning a heart murmur.”

Publisher Scott shared the results of his physical with Register readers:

“Well, it finally appears that on account of certain heart rumblings and regurgitations and wiggly lines on an electrocardiograph, the United States Army will not care to be bothered with the service of A. Scott, pre-induction examinee, class of ’42.

“‘Finally’ is the right word. I went to Leavenworth last Tuesday morning and didn’t see the ‘reject’ stamped on my papers until Sunday afternoon. If my part in this war is to consist of signing rationing certificates instead of shooting bullets, so be it. I never was a good shot anyway.”

A consummate reader, Angelo Scott at work.
Charles Wilson, left, Iola’s mayor in 1955, was the first local citizen to receive a Civil Defense Identification tag from Ben Ellis, center, of Iola Molded Plastics and local civilian defense director. Angelo Scott, editor of The Register, showed his metal tag. Iolans were urged to obtain application blanks at their grocery store and send off for the little metal identification tags which resemble “dog tags” worn by soldiers during the war. The tags were stamped with the name, birth date and religion of the wearer and gave the name and address of the one who should be notified in case of accident or emergency.

ANGELO SCOTT took to the pen with vigor to defend his country.

Fully embroiled in the war, it was Mr. Scott’s job to serve as the chairman of Iola’s rationing board. Commodities such as gasoline, tires, sugar and chocolate were allotted in certain amounts to the private and public sectors through the War Price and Rationing Board. 

Of that responsibility, which consumed as much of Scott’s life as running the newspaper, he wrote:

“With the shake-up in rationing boards in Allen County the little job of being chairman of the Iola board is going to take up about half of my time this week. If the editorials in this column are scanty and feeble as a result, please excuse. It’s hard to concentrate on the woes of a nation when the woes of a trucker with three flat tires happen to be sitting right in your lap.”

A preacher at heart, Scott admonished Iolans to be generous in their support of the war.

“Your quota of War Bonds is easy to figure. It is 10 percent of your income. To buy your quota is a patriotic duty. In this uncertain world there is not a more certain investment than your country’s promise to pay.”


Ever the optimist, in February 1944, Angelo Scott projected Allen County’s future after the war:

“Iola and Allen County have lost a lot of workers to war industries these past two years. All of us wonder how many will come back when the war is over. My guess is that nine-tenths of them will WANT to come back. How many do, will depend upon how many jobs are available for them, and that is the challenge this community must face in the immediate months to come.”

On Pins and Needles – Aug. 13, 1945

“At this time, the world is still waiting for the Japs to make up their minds … until that time comes what else is important? I find myself in a sort of state of suspended animation … and I refuse to write editorials about Congress or backyard vacations. I shall continue to wait, and jitter. If you must read something, try the want-ads. They contain wonderful bargains.”

Aug. 14, 1945:

“This time peace seems to be coming as an agonizing ordeal rather than as a bombshell of relief and joy. Japan indicated her willingness to quit last Friday. But as this is being written this (Tuesday) morning, her final acceptance of our surrender offer is still wending its diplomatic way across the world … the actual surrender message has been going through the hours-long process of being coded, transmitted and decoded again … then he (Truman) will have to consult other Allied governments … It’s really too bad. In this day of instant communications, it is a ghastly anachronism that the surrender negotiation should take whole days to transmit and that thousands should die in battle after the decision to surrender has been made.

Later that same day, the  news announced: “WAR IS OVER! Hostilities Cease On All Fronts. Gen. MacArthur to Rule Japan. V-J Day will be proclaimed only after the surrender has been formally accepted by MacArthur. “

Iolans Break Loose

“The tension created by three years, eight months and seven days of history’s cruelest war snapped in Iola at 6 p.m. today. Within a matter of minutes following President Truman’s announcement, sirens were screaming and Iola’s streets were jammed with pedestrians and cars, and trucks filled with people bent on giving vent to their joy. The scene was not without its touch of sorrow. An older woman was quietly weeping. She had lost three sons in the war. A younger woman was smiling as she fought back her tears; she now awaits her husband who has never seen their 20-month old son. In contrast to those driving furiously around the square, in anticipation of the end of gas rationing, was Cap Newman marching with stately tread, beating a tom-tom from an old oil can.”

The Last Trickle

“Well, it’s happened.

“The Neosho has stopped flowing at Iola.

“From now on until we get some run-off rains, the water we have to drink and bathe with will be measured by the size of the pool above our dam plus the amount of sewage Burlington and Le Roy may be kid enough to send our way.

“There is no immediate cause for alarm. The pool is a pretty big one. And nature’s law of average SHOULD give us a rain or two before we suck it completely dry. … Let’s take a look at some towns in another valley near-by — Fredonia, Neodesha, Cherryvale, Independence and Coffeyville. They get their water from Fall river, an even smaller stream than the Neosho. Are they in even worse condition than we?

“They are not!

“They are knee deep in clover. The Fall river dam was built a few years ago, one of those wicked “big dams” that everybody has been screaming about so much lately. And what has it done for these towns?

“During the 1951 floods, it kept them dry and safe while it stored up billions of gallons of water that otherwise would have drowned them as the Neosho did in Iola.

And this year, as last, it is doling out those billions of gallons in a nice, steady  flow that is proficiding these towns and their people and industries with all the water they can use. 

(Editor’s note: The John Redmond Dam was completed in 1959.)

Call the Plumber

In 1961 Angelo Scott championed the need for a citywide sewer system.

“VOTE YES! The Register is deeply concerned that the citizens of Iola may not realize the vital importance of voting “yes” on the sewer bonds in tomorrow’s election. Of course we don’t WANT to! When the sewer stops up at your home you don’t WANT to call the plumber and pay him a fee to open things up. But you do call him. You don’t just let the sewage spill out on the floor and stay there! Our city sewage problem is just about that simple. The whole system is “stopped up” through age and insufficient capacity. Our sewage is spilling out into the Neosho untreated or half-treated. It’s a filthy mess of which Iola should be ashamed. It’s high time we call the plumber. And don’t forget this: Just as your house would deteriorate rapidly if it had a stopped-up sewer, so will a town deteriorate that has an inadequate sewage disposal system.”

News Item

“On March 22, 1963, Ruth and Emerson Lynn bowed out as active members of the Register’s staff. Today they are on a leisurely automobile trip to California where they will acquire a 26-foot trailer. They will return to Iola in about a month for a time but plan extensive travels. Mrs. Lynn, daughter of the late Charles F. Scott, has been on the Register staff only since World War II when she was drafted as telegraph editor. She continued on the job for several years after the war’s end. Recently she has worked only on Saturday mornings and while spelling vacationing employees.

“Lynn, who will be 65 on April 1, joined the Register in 1925 and has been on the staff since then, except for three years in the 1930s. He has been advertising manager, circulation manager, reporter, photographer, city editor and assistant manager.

“During World War II he drove a motor delivery route each evening. Lynn was an officer in the National Guard here for a number of years. He has served on the city commission, school board, county welfare advisory committee and is now on the library board. Their immediate travel plans include a trip across Canada this spring and summer. They plan to spend this winter studying Spanish in a college near Mexico City.”


Angelo Scott was publisher for 27 years, selling the newspaper to his nephew, Emerson E. Lynn in 1965.

Angelo was awarded the William Allen White Award for Journalistic Merit in 1958 and was inducted into the Kansas Newspaper Hall of Fame. He was the first chairman of the Kansas Alcoholic Beverage Control Board of Review from 1949 until 1957 and was personally involved with the transition period when the state moved from its bone-dry laws to controlled sales of alcoholic beverages. A careful student of Kansas and Allen County history, Scott served as president of the Kansas State Historical Society in 1954 and of the Allen County Historical Society from 1956 to 1959.

During the war years he was chairman of the War Price and Rationing Board in Allen County and served as a member of the Kansas Joint Merit System Council from 1944 to 1949.

Scott was born in Iola, Kansas Nov. 17, 1899, son of Charles F. and May Ewing Scott. He graduated from Iola High School in 1917 and Colorado College in Colorado Springs in 1921.

Angelo Scott also enjoyed woodworking.

These were Scott’s parting words:

WON’T SUIT ME

“I feel no particular need to write a special editorial along with today’s front page announcement that The Register is being sold to my nephew, Emerson Lynn Jr.

“I’m not going anywhere. I don’t expect to change my way of living radically. I even plan to keep working quite a bit right here on the paper.

“But I do want to tell a small story.

“The last time my wife and I were fishing with our favorite guide on Table Rock Lake in Missouri, we suggested to him that sometime he ought to take a busman’s holiday by going to some other lake for a day and hiring a guide to take HIM fishing and do all the work while he enjoyed himself.

“Unless you just couldn’t stand the way he did things,” my wife added.

“He considered that for a moment, then said, ‘Well, I’ll guarantee he wouldn’t do it to suit me!’

“I have come to the same conclusion about turning The Register over to a successor. I’ll guarantee that he won’t run it to suit me!

“I’ll also guarantee that he won’t run it to suit all Register employees or Register readers. The ruts of habit are exceedingly comfortable. Change is always a bit of a shock, even if it’s for the better.

“But I am sure that the changes in this case will be gentle and altogether on the side of progress and improvement. So please don’t be too upset if a few things about the paper suddenly take on a new look instead of following the well-worn patterns of the last ten years or so.

“You may even like it.

“And who knows? I may even like it, too. Anyway, I’m going to stick around with my eyes wide open to see!

Emerson Lynn Jr.

News Item

January 1966

Emerson Elwood Lynn took the helm of The Iola Register, replacing his uncle, Angelo Scott.

Lynn’s official newspaper career began in 1951 as a reporter for the Wichita Beacon. From there he purchased the Humboldt Union. He and wife, Mickey, ran this weekly as a “mom and pop” operation for seven years. In 1958, Lynn moved his family of six to Bowie, Texas, where they published the Bowie News up until November 1965 when it was sold to make purchase of the Register possible. The Lynns have four children: Emerson, Michael, Angelo and Susan.

Emerson Lynn was born in 1924 in Iola, the eldest son of Emerson E. and Ruth Scott Lynn. He attended the University of Chicago, graduating in 1948 with a degree in political science. His journalistic career began on The Maroon, the college paper of the University of Chicago. He also wrote for the Chicago Tribune while attending university. 

After university he was awarded a Rotary International Fellowship and went to Australia for a year. While attending the University of Melbourne he met Mickey June Killough, originally of Elk City, Okla., and they married. 

He served in the U.S. Air Force during World War II.

Lynn exemplified the quintessential newspaper publisher, putting the town of Iola and its welfare as paramount. He worked tirelessly in promoting Iola to prospective industries. The town’s image, its cohesiveness, its caring for its own yet reaching out to others, and its success, were all heartfelt issues to him. Just as the newspaper business is always trying to reach new people, secure new advertisers and attract subscribers, a town is in the same position in its efforts to prosper.

Lynn was instrumental in the success of Iola Industries, a local group that formed in 1965 to attract new industries to town, as well as its regional counterpart, Mid-America.

LESSON LEARNED

A front page editorial of the Jan. 28, 1971 Register was a mea culpa:

“Call off the attack, friends, we give up! At the first of the year, The Register elected to stop publication of news reports from correspondents throughout the area, erroneously convinced that ‘country news’ really didn’t have much readership. We were wrong. So the Register is not only going to re-establish its correspondents system as soon as possible, but will also put a new emphasis on local and area news from other sources. Our news desk is as close to you as your telephone. When you are aware of an event you feel is of general interest, call and let the Register know. Together we can make the Register a daily history of this area and the families which give it meaning

— Emerson Lynn Jr., publisher.”


In May of 1984, Emerson Lynn lauded the talents of good friend and local politician Robert V. Talkington by editorializing:

“Sen. Robert V. Talkington’s rise in state politics is the most important thing that happened to Allen County during the session of the Legislature just ended. Sen. Talkington clearly emerged as the dominant factor in the Senate. As the session drew to a close it became clear that the Iola attorney would be elected president next year. His success in politics doubtless comes as a surprise to those who believe that the road to high office is open only to self-congratulating egoists who can’t keep their hands off their own backs. Bob isn’t that way. As a consequence he has been chosen by others for positions of high trust. What a boon it would be for good government if more of our political leaders came to power at the urging of their peers rather than the burning of their own ambitions.”

Emerson and Mickey Lynn worked together recounting the history of Allen County, including A Pictorial History of Allen County, 1855-1991, The Annals of Allen County, 1868-1945, and The Chronicles of Allen County, 1945-2000.

One of the privileges of writing for a newspaper is the opportunity to publicly note good deeds. When two of Iola’s leaders passed away in 1992, Emerson Lynn made sure they were properly eulogized.

Howard Gilpin

In March of that year, longtime banker and civic leader Howard Gilpin died at the age of 75. 

Lynn’s remarks follow:

“Howard Gilpin belonged to the old school of banking. New bankers should take classes there, too. … Howard understood that a bank had to make money to keep its doors open, but he put the good of the community on a par with the financial success of the bank. That good citizenship cost him and the other stockholders a chunk. When a new industry failed that he had helped recruit and then backed with loans — and several did — he took the loss in stride and kept on risking his money to build Iola. Howard gave of his time just as generously. He spent years on the school board and was a charter member of the board of Iola Industries, Inc., of which he also served as president. … There were few unpaid jobs in the spheres in which he moved that he didn’t hold at one time or another. … His death Wednesday cut a busy life short, but left his mourners with warm memories of a good man with many talents who stayed one-up on the world.”

Susan Miller

When 18-year-old Susan Miller died from cancer in 1984, Emerson Lynn expressed the sentiments of the community:

“Susan Miller had been ill for three and one-half years before she died Tuesday, her obituary said. Sometimes a fact can be so insufficient that it almost becomes a falsehood.

“Susan Miller walked with her head held high smack into the face of a relentless gale for three and one-half years. Most of that time she was smiling. All of that time she was supporting those around her, just as they were supporting her. Susan and her family used every resource they could call upon to battle her disease. They learned about cancer and searched for the best physicians the world had to offer, submitted to the treatments they prescribed and added the extra dimension of religious faith themselves. They brought everyone who showed love and interest into their circle of concern. There, for three and one-half years, a seminar on how to live was held. Susan led.

“Neither she nor her family surrendered to self-pity or bitterness. Instead, they celebrated each day as a precious gift and kept hope alive by focusing on the future. Susan won almost all the honors there were to win at Iola High School where she was also fighting her private battle. And as impressive and important as those accomplishments were, they were dwarfed by comparison with the inspiration she was to all who stood beside her as she dealt so triumphantly with adversity.

“What a blessing she was to all of us; what a blessing the shining memory of her will be for years to come.”

Lynn believed a duty of The Register was to endorse candidates in state and national elections: “New readers of The Register need to be told that I usually vote Republican, as have the editors of this newspaper since it was founded in 1867, with one exception. It is not a prejudice that I follow slavishly, however, and I sometimes have found myself stranded ashore in the recent years while the Republican Party sailed off to the far right. … It is entirely possible that the good ship GOP will disappear from my view if it continues to tack to catch that same ill wind. I’ll be waiting here in the middle of the political spectrum when the crew consults its charts and returns to course.”

Emerson Lynn in 2013

That correction never happened in Lynn’s lifetime. 

He died in 2013.

Susan Lynn

In 2000, Susan Lynn, daughter of Emerson and Mickey Lynn, returned home to Iola to join the Register crew, becoming publisher in 2001. 

A 1974 graduate of Iola High School, Lynn continued her education at the University of Kansas William Allen White School of Journalism, the University of Lancaster, England, and was graduated from Western Washington University, Bellingham, Wash. She received her master’s in library science from Wayne State University in Detroit. 

Lynn’s move to Iola came after more than 25 years away from Kansas. For her three children — Louise, Tim and Aaron Stauffer — it meant breaking new ground in a state that had long recognized their joint heritage of newspapering families. 

The opportunity to work alongside her father for 14 years was a blessing of immense proportion as well as a unique opportunity, Lynn said. 

After 20 years at The Register, Lynn marvels at the changes during that tenure. Perhaps the most significant was in 2010 when the Register ceased its printing operations so it could take advantage of a full-color product only a large-scale operation could produce. 

“We signed on with the Lawrence Journal-World, confident of its stability,” she said. Sadly, only a few years later, the LJ World shuttered its printing operation. 

The Register was then printed by the Independence Examiner in Independence, Mo., for a long stretch until January 2020, when the Examiner — yes, you guessed it — closed its printing production.

The Register is now printed each day in Bartlesville, Okla.


TO HER immense delight, her son, Timothy Stauffer and his wife, Violeta Rodriguez, joined the Register staff in June of 2018. Violeta serves as marketing director and Tim as managing editor.

“That a fifth generation of Charles F. Scott has come on board, is not only a voice of confidence in The Register, but also in Iola and Allen County,” Lynn said.

Already, with the guidance of this younger generation, the Register has launched a new website and entered the field of website development.

“The best is yet to come,” Lynn said.