About The Easley Progress – A Historical Perspective
For more than 110 years, The Easley Progress has served the people of Pickens County as their primary source of news, as well as a guide to satisfy the community’s appetite for goods and services through advertising of local merchants. The Easley Progress traces its heritage back to a group of Easley businessmen who formed “Easley Publishing Company” and founded The Easley Progress. The first issue was printed July 23, 1902.
No clear record of all involved in the venture exists, but we know that Major David F. Bradley was listed in the first issue as the publisher and J.T. Lathem was listed as the business manager. Bradley was a one-armed Irishman who fought in the Civil War. He had previously founded The Pickens Sentinel in 1873, but he was no longer involved with that publication when The Progress was founded. In an editorial that appeared in that first issue of The Progress, Bradley promised the newspaper would be a loyal servant to the community, covering the news as it happened. He promised The Progress would always be “a welcome visitor in your home.”
In 1905, Lathem took over as publisher of The Progress and led the paper through a two-year period of tough financial times. Lathem was Mayor of Easley when he took the helm of The Progress. In 1907, Charles T. Martin was hired to serve as publisher of the paper. Martin was a former mayor of Easley and had been involved a previous newspaper venture. Martin bought The Progress from Easley Publishing Company in 1909. Legend has it that he bought it for $250 and a “long-eared mule.” Martin was publisher of the paper for 20 years, selling it to W.D. Spearman in 1929. From there, The Progress changed hands several times until Julien Wyatt purchased the paper in 1939, providing stability.
A graduate of Easley High School, Wyatt had written history pieces for The Progress while in high school and college. He became a successful lawyer, businessman and generous benefactor. He quietly paid for college education for dozens of young men in Easley, never accepting public credit for this. When Wyatt died in 1961, his family sold The Progress to Jack Ragsdale and Jesse Ross. Ragsdale and Ross owned the paper until 1981, when they sold it to Jerry Vickery and Carnis B. Davis. In 1991, Vickery bought out Davis’ interest in the newspaper. He and his wife Beverly were the sole owners of The Easley Progress until March 2003, when Easley Publications purchased controlling interest in the newspaper.
Easley Publications sold the newspaper to Mid-South Publications in 2005, joining The Pickens Sentinel. In 2007, Heartland Publications, based in Clinton, Conn., bought Mid-South Publications. In late 2012, Versa Capital Management LLC, a private equity investment firm, announced the creation of Civitas Media LLC, a new community news media company that combined four media entities owned by Versa: Freedom Central, Heartland Publications, Impressions Media and Ohio Community Media.
Today, our community members can take their news in print two times a week, through e-mail daily, online and using their mobile devices anytime, as well as through live streaming broadcasts from locations around town. In alliance with The Pickens Sentinel, the Powdersville Post and their websites, we reach nearly 100,000 community members across our various products monthly.
The Easley Progress seeks to provide the news the community needs, reported faithfully and fully, with respect for all and favor to none. We strive to be authoritative and insightful, to inform and to delight. To accomplish this mission, we set for ourselves the following goals:
- To be the indispensable, timely source of information and community coverage, examining all subjects that impact readers.
- To provide community members with information relevant to their daily lives.
- To raise issues aggressively and constructively in matters of public interest.
- To reflect the diversity of our community’s people.
- To ensure that the right information, reaches the right audience, at the time they want it using the wide variety of formats available to us.