Stephen F. Austin State University

Feisty editor had his share of fights (August 2018)

Feisty editor had his share of fights

By Van Craddock

Francis Marschalk was an early East Texas editor who wouldn't shy away from conflict.

He'd proved his feistiness during the Civil War, surviving such major battles as Shiloh, Murfreesboro, and Chickamauga.

Marschalk also did battle with a Longview newspaperman in 1886, an incident in which a pistol was displayed. But we'll get to that brouhaha in a minute.

(Note: Some of what follows is from local historian Sue Moore, who has researched the Marschalk family and was kind enough to share her information with me. Thanks, Sue).

Francis Marschalk was born into a newspaper family in Natchez, Miss., in 1840. His grandfather had brought the first printing press to the Mississippi Territory in 1798.

In the early 1850s the Marschalk family came to Texas, where it established papers in Georgetown, Hempstead and Belton. When the Civil War began in 1861, young Marschalk joined a Confederate artillery battery and then transferred to the Confederate Navy.

Marschalk survived the war and married Sophia Frances Packenham in 1866. For the next two decades he edited papers in Mississippi and Florida, sadly losing two children to a yellow fever epidemic in the early 1880s. In 1885 he took Sophia and their remaining three children to New York where he edited a magazine.

In the spring of 1886 he moved the family to East Texas, starting a paper he called the Gregg County Clarion.

In June 1886 the Clarksville Standard in Red River County wrote:

"We have received No. 3, Vol. 1, of the Gregg County Clarion, a paper lately established by Francis Marschalk who has … much experience in the editorial and typographic line. The paper is of fair size, well printed and we think will be conducted so as to advance the interests of Gregg County."

It didn't take Marschalk long to square off with E.W. Mosely (sometimes spelled Moseley), who published the other local newspaper, the Longview Cycle.

In July 1886, Marschalk accused the owner of a recently closed Longview paper, the Texas New Era, with bankrolling Mosely to begin The Cycle. Mosely denied receiving any money from the former Texas New Era owner. The feud was on.

The Fort Worth Daily Gazette of July 24, 1886, reported:

"Longview's two papers, the Clarion and Cycle, are having some trouble in getting accustomed to each other's existence. The Cycle this morning says to the editor of the Clarion: 'Mr. Francis Marschalk, you simply lie.'"

Marschalk didn't like being called a liar. Several days later he stormed down to The Cycle's office for a face-to-face "discussion" with E.W. Mosely.

Marschalk demanded an apology from Mosely. "This Mosely refused," said the July 30 Fort Worth Daily Gazette. "The city was greatly excited over the matter, as both men are brave, and each thought himself in the right."

Marschalk and Mosely began slapping each other and a pistol was "freely handled." Interestingly, the article didn't say which newspaperman had displayed the weapon.

"Friends of both parties interfered in various ways" and finally separated the combatants. Neither man had been injured in the spat.

According to Sue Moore's research, Marschalk was "well-respected in the community as a Mason, a prohibitionist, and a civic promoter …"

Francis Marschalk died Dec. 31, 1890, at age 50. One obituary called him "one of the ablest journalists in the state, having been an editor for over thirty years."

The Dallas Morning News of Jan. 4, 1891, noted Marschalk "was always a devoted, tender and loving husband and father, a true friend and a kind employer and will be greatly missed and mourned by all who knew him."

His widow, Sophia, operated the Gregg County Clarion for a time but eventually sold the paper to J.W. Johnson who renamed the paper the Longview Times-Clarion.