Logan, John Davis (1818–1878)

By: Geraldine F. Talley

Type: Biography

Published: March 1, 1995

John Davis Logan, editor and publisher, was born in Kentucky in 1818 and moved to Arkansas in his youth. He learned the printer's trade in Little Rock. In 1840 he moved to Louisville, Kentucky, where he published a newspaper with C. B. Parson. The venture lasted only a year, after which Logan returned to Arkansas, where he founded the Western Frontier Whig with Thomas Sterne in Van Buren in 1844. Sterne had started the Intelligencer in Van Buren and sold it to George W. Clark before becoming Logan's partner. A rivalry developed between the two newspapers that led to a verbal clash in which Clark called Logan "Big Mush" and Logan labeled Clark "Toady." The bitterness culminated in a duel fought with rifles on the banks of the Arkansas River. Accounts of the duel differ. At any rate, Logan survived to marry Mary Elizabeth Garrett, with whom he had three children. He was such a confirmed Whig that he named his only son after Whig leader Henry Clay.

In 1845 Sterne and Logan decided to move their newspaper to Victoria, Texas. They took their press and type from Van Buren to New Orleans, then to Port Lavaca by boat, and subsequently to Victoria by Mexican oxcarts. On May 8, 1846, the first issue of the Texas Advocate, later renamed the Texian Advocate, was published; it was the forerunner of the Victoria Advocate. Four days after its initial publication the Advocate printed news of the first battles of the Mexican War, and Logan put out an extra giving the details. In 1848 the two Whig editors took credit for their newspaper's being the first to endorse Gen. Zachary Taylor for president. Logan left Victoria for Washington, D.C., where he was a clerk in the General Land Office for the next two years, though he retained his partnership in the Advocate and wrote articles for it signed either J. D. L. or "Lone Star." In late 1853 he sold his interest in the Texian Advocate to John J. Jamieson, who in a short time sold to George W. Palmer. Sterne had already sold his partnership in the paper to Palmer.

Logan then moved to Hinds Bay, near Austwell in Refugio County, where he engaged in the mercantile and livestock business for a while before selling his Refugio County property and moving to San Antonio. In 1856 he purchased a partnership in the San Antonio Herald from James P. Newcomb. Although he later became a Calhoun Democrat, at that time Logan, like many other Whig editors, was a member of the American party, and as such he continued to espouse the previous editor's Know-Nothing policies. The Daily Herald, the first daily in San Antonio, appeared with Logan as editor-in-chief on March 23, 1857. In 1858 Logan bought the first steam engine in San Antonio. The Herald was the only plant in Texas that both ground corn and printed a newspaper.

In 1874 Logan moved to Pleasanton and began publication of the Stock and Family Journal. In 1875 he sold his interest in the San Antonio and Pleasanton publications. The following year he moved to Austin, where he operated the unsuccessful Daily Evening News. He returned to San Antonio in 1877 and again bought an interest in the Herald. In the fall of that year he became ill, sold his interest in the Herald, and moved to his brother-in-law's home near Reagan. He died on February 10, 1878, in Falls County.

Roy Grimes, ed., 300 Years in Victoria County (Victoria, Texas: Victoria Advocate, 1968; rpt., Austin: Nortex, 1985). Jacobina Burch Harding, A History of the Early Newspapers of San Antonio, 1823–1874 (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1951). Marilyn M. Sibley, Lone Stars and State Gazettes: Texas Newspapers before the Civil War (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1983).


  • Journalism
  • Newspapers
  • Editors and Reporters

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Geraldine F. Talley, “Logan, John Davis,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed January 17, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/logan-john-davis.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

March 1, 1995