North Carolina Newspapers

North Carolina Newspapers

The Coastland Times (Manteo, N.C.)

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July 5, 1935 – August 13, 1974
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The Coastland Times of Manteo, North Carolina is a long-running newspaper serving Dare County on North Carolina’s Outer Banks. The newspaper’s roots date back to 1935, when Daniel Victor Meekins (1897-1964) founded the Dare County Times.

Meekins, a native of Manteo, began his journalism career in 1922 at the Independent, a newspaper based in Elizabeth City, N.C. about 60 miles northwest of Manteo. Eager to return home, Meekins left the Independent in 1927 and ran for sheriff of Dare County. He was elected and held the post until 1946. Because his home county lacked a newspaper, Meekins launched the Dare County Times on July 5, 1935, noting in a front-page headline that “the county’s first and only newspaper is born today.” Meekins operated a small printing business simultaneous with running the weekly newspaper. In 1947, he changed the newspaper’s title to the Coastland Times.

Meekins used the pages of the Coastland Times to share news about Outer Banks residents and building projects. He encouraged readers to look beyond the unstable fishing industry for other economic opportunities, noting in a January 5, 1951 editorial, “We cannot cry all the time over spilt milk. We must look forward and go forward, or like Lot’s wife become pillars of salt, arid and useless.” He advocated for a network of bridges connecting the various Outer Banks islands with each other and the mainland. For many years, Meekins penned a column titled “The Old Sea Captain and the Drummer,” in which he shared anecdotes about Outer Banks life. He assembled some of the columns and published them as a book in 1950.

In a short biography of Meekins, David Stick, a longtime Outer Banks resident and historian, noted that the newspaperman often used words common in spoken English, but rarely seen in print. The usage, Stick wrote, enraged some readers and “titillated” others.

Because of a shortage of paper and labor brought on by World War II, Meekins merged several newspapers he owned in coastal North Carolina with the Coastland Times in 1949. In 1959, he changed the newspaper’s name to the Coastland Times With Which Is Combined The Pilot and Herald of Belhaven and Swan Quarter. In February 1973, nine years after Meekins’s death, his family announced the launch of a Tuesday edition of the newspaper and condensed the title to the Coastland Times. The newspaper announced the publication of a third edition each week in 1985, but it returned to publishing twice weekly in the 2010s.

The Meekins family remained involved with the Coastland Times for many years. Victor’s wife Catherine Deaton Meekins (1904-1980) wrote for the newspaper and worked as secretary-treasurer. Roger Preston Meekins (1930-2018), one of the couple’s two sons, reported and took photographs, as well as composed and sold advertising. Francis Warren Meekins (1933-2010), the other son, worked as advertising manager, before becoming editor and general manager. Francis remained associated with the newspaper until 2005. The family sold the Coastland Times in December 2017.

Provided by: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Library, Chapel Hill, NC

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Contributors

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Outer Banks History Center