Nancy Ruth Reeves (1904-1958) published the first issue of the Skyland Post in her hometown of West Jefferson, North Carolina, in 1931. Reeves had recently returned to North Carolina from Danville, Virginia, where she had resigned from teaching at Averett College. The daughter of a physician active in state and local politics, Reeves used the Post to back the Democratic Party. She had help from her cousin John Frank Reeves, Jr. (1905-1984) in running the business side of the Post.
In 1932, Ruth Reeves bought and then ceased publication of the Ashe County Journal, also based in West Jefferson. With closure of the Journal, the Post became the sole newspaper in Ashe County, the mountainous western part of North Carolina and home to lumber operations as well as dairy and truck farming.
In 1937, Reeves married and settled with her husband in Danville. She leased the Post to Ed Moore Anderson (1905-1958), who had worked as editor of the Leaksville News for three years and then briefly at the Bee of Danville, Virginia. Anderson eventually bought the newspaper and held the titles of editor and publisher.
Stella Anderson (1902-1988) worked with her husband at the Post, having written for the Charlotte Observer and the Greensboro Record prior to their marriage. Listed as “Mrs. Ed Anderson” and with the title of assistant editor, Stella first appeared on the masthead with the Post‘s February 20, 1941 issue. Five years later, in March 1946, Stella assumed the editorship, while Ed continued as publisher. Ed likely was occupied with running a small chain of newspapers. By 1942, he had founded the Alleghany News in Sparta, North Carolina, and had bought the Transylvania Times of Brevard, North Carolina, the Forest City Courier, and the Spindale Sun.
Ed Anderson was also active in local and regional news, and in business organizations. He served on the executive board of the North Carolina Press Association and as president of the National Editorial Association.
For years, the Post remained the only newspaper in Ashe County, publishing weekly on Thursday. In 1940, the front page featured a note boasting that the newspaper was the only one in North Carolina with a circulation “three times the total population of the town in which it is published.” According to the 1940 United States Census, the town of West Jefferson had 883 residents. The larger “township” of West Jefferson held a population of 2,872. The population size to which the note referred is unclear.
Despite its status as a weekly newspaper, the Post carried a mix of international, national, and state news, often grouping them together on a single page under the title, “Brief Review of State, National, and World News During the Past Week.” The stories were likely culled from wire services, although the newspaper included no mention of such. Similarly, local stories carried no bylines. The Post also included reports of high school sports, the comings and goings of county residents, and community organizations. Over the years, the newspaper won state and national prizes for community service, agriculture promotion, general news coverage, editorials, and photography.
Upon Ed Anderson’s death in 1958, Stella Anderson assumed the post of publisher of the Post and the other regional newspapers the couple owned. She remained owner, publisher, and editor of the Post until she sold the newspaper to T. Alvin Wheeler Jr. (1935-2015) and his wife Patty Wheeler (b. 1944?) in 1982. In 1988, the Wheelers merged the Post with the Jefferson Times, with which it had competed in West Jefferson for ten years, to form the Jefferson Post. The new title continued to publish in West Jefferson with Patty Wheeler as the managing editor. The Jefferson Post later merged with the Ashe Mountain Times to form the Ashe Post & Times in 2017.
Provided by: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Library, Chapel Hill, NC