The Lincoln Times was a semi-weekly newspaper published in Lincolnton, North Carolina from the early 1900s to 1965. The newspaper may have first published under the title The Lincoln County Times in 1907. In referring to the Lincolnton newspaper bearing Times in its title, North Carolina newspapers published between 1907 and 1910 used Lincoln and Lincoln County interchangeably.
The Times supported the Republican party and offered an alternative to The Lincoln County News of Lincolnton, which supported the Democratic party. The October 15, 1907 edition of the News welcomed the Times, noting that the company was composed of “a number of the leading Republicans” of Lincoln County.
L.B. Thompson was listed as editor and publisher for the Times. He arrived in Lincolnton after having worked for The Newton Enterprise (NC) and The Christian Sun in Elon College, North Carolina. Thompson brought experience with printing and press operations to his newspaper work. The December 12, 1897 issue of The Concord Times reported that Thompson was the southern U.S. representative for Babcock Printing Press Manufacturing and was in town to assist in assembly of the newspaper’s new press. The January 10, 1907 edition of the Newton Enterprise referred to Thompson, then working at the newspaper, as its “expert pressman.”
On January 19, 1910 the Charlotte Daily Observer reported that Jessie Franklin Click (1847-1938) had purchased shares of the Times and was elected editor by the company’s board of directors. The newspaper noted that Click had previously served as editor of The Times-Mercury of Hickory, North Carolina. Under Click’s leadership, the Times changed to publishing weekly, and the newspaper appears to have attacked the superintendent of Lincoln County schools. The September 16, 1911 edition of The Evening Chronicle of Charlotte, North Carolina shared news of legal wrangling between Jonas and the superintendent related to the latter’s assault on the former because of a series of editorials in 1910.
In May 1911, Click returned to Hickory and a position at the Times-Mercury. The Lincoln Times fell under the leadership of several Lincoln County Republican party leaders until 1914, when Francis Augustus “Gus” Slate (1866-1954) bought the newspaper and took on the positions of editor and publisher. Prior to moving to Lincolnton, Slate had served as mayor of Kernersville, North Carolina and editor and publisher of the Forsyth News, which was based in the town. During Slate’s six-year tenure at the Times, the newspaper returned to publishing semi-weekly.
In 1919, John McKinley Mullen (1894-1958) and his father, Jonas Whitley Mullen (1862-1928), bought the Times. The junior Mullen had recently returned from service in the U.S. Navy during World War I, and he assumed the editorship of the Times. Jonas Mullen was a Lincolnton merchant and appears to have held no active role in the newspaper’s operations. The senior Mullen is credited with establishing the first cotton gin in Lincoln County, and the 1920 U.S. Census lists him as secretary of a building and loan association.
The Times was the Mullens family’s first venture into publishing. The May 16, 1921 Hickory Daily Record (NC) reported that John Mullen had purchased the Times-Mercury in that city. The October 28, 1921 The Charlotte Observer reported that John and Jonas Mullen, along with John’s sister and Jonas’ daughter Maud, had formed Western Carolina Publishing. The company published both newspapers. Eventually John Mullen moved to Tampa, Florida and published the Florida Grower, a monthly publication for Florida farmers. Maud Mullen assumed leadership of the Times and remained in that position until her death in 1958.
After Maud Mullen’s death, Guy McGhee Leedy (1909-1994), a veteran of newspapers in West Virginia and North Carolina, ran the Times for the Mullen family. In 1963, he bought the newspaper. The printing plant was in poor condition, with presses more than 50 years old. Consequently, Leedy looked for partners who could provide money to update the operation. In 1963, the owners of the Salisbury Evening Post (NC) purchased a 50 percent stake in the Times and helped purchase new presses. Two years later, Leedy led the merger of the Times with the competing Lincoln County News. The first issue of the Lincoln Times-News was published on October 1, 1965.