The Oscar M. Duggar Sr. era of the Andalusia Star

Published 5:00 pm Friday, January 28, 2022

Occasionally an old photograph jumps out of hiding at the Three Notch Museum. Maybe this one was in between something or in a file or under a stack meant to be found sooner or later. Fortunately, this picture had notes written on the back and was carefully labeled with the date of 1921.

These gentlemen are posing for someone taking a picture of The Andalusia Star workers 100 years ago. A hand-drawn map on the back of the heavy cardboard mat marks the location of the newspaper office. Probably no one living today will remember the two offices side by side located on East Three Notch Street behind the present Bill Greenwald office of Edward Jones and Company. Those buildings are no longer there, only a parking lot. I imagine that one office was for the writers and business staff. The other office across the alley was most likely where the noisy press was situated.

A caption reads, “Around 1921Standing in front of the old Cranston Cylinder Flat Bed Press. Left to Right – A. R. Powell, Sr.; Roy O’Neal; Harvey Stephens-Ran Old Sheet Fed Press at Star News Till Early 1960s When They Went Offset; ___________ Bailey, Linotype Operator; __________ Josey (May Be Paul Jordan); __________(Deaf Mute); R. D. Burgess; O. M. Duggar, Sr. – Editor-Publisher; O. M. Duggar, Jr.; T. E. Baisden – (Far Right – A Visitor); Robert Vickery (In Rear on Left); Picnic DeLoach (Not Sure); Charlie Taylor (Not Sure).

Skipping over a few years, the newspaper headlines read, “The Andalusia Star Changes Hands; Sale Effective Today.” The date was April 18, 1946.

“Effective today, Editor Oscar M. Dugger has sold his entire interest in The Andalusia Star to Mr. Byron Vickery and Mr. William F. Locke who have formed a partnership under the firm name of Vickery and Locke, Publishers, who are taking over the business.”

“The new owners assume all responsibility of carrying out the obligation to continue sending the Star to all subscribers for the full period for which payment has been made. Both Vickery and Locke are native Andalusians and need no introduction to the great family of Star patrons. They are both young men, experienced in the operation of a newspaper plant, having had many years experience in this field.”

In an editorial, Dugger states, “I decided to sell the business despite the fact that the newspaper has never been on a more solid foundation, has never had more advertising patrons, more orders for job printing and more paid subscriptions than it has had during the past several years and is enjoying at this time. My reason for deciding to sell is that I am tired. As of last December, I have spent forty-five years as owner and editor of newspapers. I have been on this job constantly with practically no vacation during these four and one-half decades always looking forward to the time when I might turn loose and take a long vacation. That time has never come. Hence my only way out seemed to me to be to sell out, and thus free myself from the ever taxing responsibility….I have made no definite plans for the future except that I shall take several weeks vacation after which time I shall decide as to just what channel of activity I shall enter. Be assured that I do not have an exalted opinion of loafers and do not intend to become one. OSCAR M. DUGGER

May 2, 1946 – “Mr. Oscar M. Dugger, recently retired owner and editor of The Andalusia Star was honored by the citizens of the community last Thursday evening by a surprise program at the East Three Notch Grammar School auditorium. About a hundred and fifty of Dugger’s friends were present. Representatives of the county and city governments and the president of each civic organization was seated on the stage.

After an invocation by Rev. R. P. Cochran, pastor of First Methodist, several vocal and violin solos were performed by local musicians, and congratulatory messages were read by Attorney Ed Reid. Mr. Robert Albritton presented Dugger with a large sterling silver bowl with matching candlesticks as a gift in token of the esteem and affection of the citizens of Andalusia. The inscription read: “PRESENTED TO OSCAR MILTON DUGGER IN APPRECIATION OF LONG YEARS OF COURAGEOUS LEADERSHIP AND UNSELFISH COMMUNITY SERVICE BY CITIZENS OF ANDALUSIA, ALABAMA, APRIL 25, 1946”

After the presentation, Mr. Dugger spoke briefly expressing his deep gratitude challenging the citizens to put their best efforts forward in the interest of Andalusia.

Dugger had served over 29 years at The Andalusia Star since 1916. Prior to that he spent 16 years in Greenville, Tennessee as owner and publisher of The Greenville Democrat.

A little over a year later, front page headlines read: “DEATH CLAIMS FORMER EDITOR AND OWNER OF THE STAROscar Milton Dugger, Sr. editor and owner of The Andalusia Star for more than thirty years (1916-1946) quietly passed away at a local hospital thus terminating a long and useful life in which his interest in the welfare of his fellow citizens was paramount in all that he did.”

Mr. Dugger was always keenly interested in Andalusia and Covington County and stood ever ready to champion whatever he considered best for the citizenship of the city and county.”

Dugger was most prominent in the civic affairs of Andalusia having been instrumental in the organization of the city’s first Chamber of Commerce serving one year as its president. He was president of the City Board of Education at the time the Church Street School was built and was a president of the Andalusia Rotary Club. He also served as president of the Alabama Press Association.”

Dugger was very active in church life of the city as a member of the First Presbyterian Church and joined the denomination in his hometown of Greene County, Tennessee at the age of 13.”

“In his home life, Dugger was a devoted husband and father. His qualities of heart and mind and his beautiful Christian character enabled him to wield an influence that was a continuing inspiration to all his loved ones.”

Dugger purchased a one-half interest in The Andalusia Star from Edward Doty in February 1916 and moved his family to town two weeks later. Several months later, he purchased Doty’s other one-half interest in the newspaper.”

Dugger’s three sons survived him – Eugene F. Dugger, Fowler Dugger, and Oscar M. Dugger, Jr. The wife of those three sons passed away in 1903. In 1905, he married Ida Atwell.

Hillcrest Infirmary paid a special tribute to Dugger when they wrote, “Hillcrest Infirmary has lost the inspiration of a loyal and devoted friend…….Tennyson must have had in mind such a soul as Mr. Dugger when he wrote: ‘Sunset and evening star and one clear call for me. And may there be no mourning at the bar when I put out to sea. Twilight and evening bell and after that the dark. And may there be no sadness of farewell when I embark.’”

It is good to Remember When and to find a touching story of such an outstanding citizen who during his years in this fair city added so much to help make Andalusia what it is today.

Sue Bass Wilson, AHS Class of 1965, is a local real estate broker and long-time member of the Covington Historical Society. She can be reached at suebwilson47@gmail.com.