San Antonio Express-News

By: Frances Donecker

Type: General Entry

Published: 1976

Updated: February 1, 1996

The San Antonio Express-News has the longest history of continuous publication among the English-language newspapers of San Antonio. The Express took its name from the Alamo Express, a Union paper published by James Pearson Newcomb, and was first published as a weekly on September 27, 1865, by H. Pollmar and August Siemering, who also published the San Antonio Freie Presse für Texas. Type was set by hand, and the newspaper was printed on the presses of the Freie Presse. In December 1866 the paper was first published as a daily and prepared with the use of the telegraph, and in 1868 it began to use Associated Press dispatches. Early editors included William E. Jones, W. B. Moore, Stanley Welch, Julius Van Slyck, and C.C. Gillespie, a former editor of the Houston Telegraph (see TELEGRAPH AND TEXAS REGISTER). The paper had an early circulation of 300 daily and 800 weekly subscribers. In 1875, Siemering, who was especially interested in the German paper, sold his interest in the Express to A. C. Aabacock, E.A. Siceluff, and their associates, but he continued to typeset and print the paper, receiving $1,000 a year for his work. Circulation increased to about 500. By 1878 Frank Grice edited the paper as operations moved to a new printing plant with a press run by the waters of the San Antonio River, but competition with the San Antonio Herald closed the paper in 1879. Grice bought out the remaining partners in 1881, entered an equal partnership with Siceluff in 1886, and reorganized the business as the Express Publishing Company. Siceluff, who served as business manager, sold his share of the paper to Grice in 1889. A Monday edition, first published in the late 1880s, made the Express a seven-day paper. After 1890 the company moved again, installed its first stereotyping equipment and a Mergenthaler linotype, and acquired its first Associated Press leased wire service. The Express constructed its own building, the first steel fireproof building in San Antonio, in 1895, by which time the paper employed 195 people. Among early employees was William Cowper Brann, later editor of the Waco Iconoclast, and editors in this period included J.D. Whelpely and J. Hampton Sullivan.

Grice died in 1906 and the paper, with a circulation of 13,100 and 18,800 on Sundays, passed to his family. Frank G. Huntress, who had joined the Express in 1884, became vice president and general manager; he became company president in 1912. Circulation had reached almost 34,000 by 1918, when M. M. Harris became editor of the paper. The company began publishing the Evening News on September 4 of that year and in 1922 became the owner and operator of radio station WOAI . A new building was dedicated in 1929 on the day the stock market crashed. Photographic sports coverage was provided by homing pigeon in 1938, and war interest increased circulation. At the end of World War II Frank Huntress, Jr., took over management of the daily morning newspaper from his father. When a strike by Canadian loggers nearly put it out of business in 1946, the paper acquired a large block of stock in several paper mills. The Express also acquired radio station KYFM in 1947, KTSA in 1949, and KGBS radio-television in 1954, renaming the station KENS. Cooperation between the Express and the News increased in the 1950s, and the papers eventually merged their staffs. The first editorial department chief was Ed Ray, followed by Charles O. Kilpatrick in 1958, by which time high-speed Goss presses enabled the company to print more than 60,000 papers an hour. In this period circulation of the Express was about 74,000 and that of the News was 75,000, with the area served by the papers reaching into West Texas. The paper had a twenty-four-hour wire service with the Associated Press and United Press, telegraphy and telephone from Washington, correspondents in many towns in West Texas, South Texas, and Mexico, and a correspondence bureau in Austin.

Between 1960 and 1962 the Harte-Hanks Communications newspaper group purchased the company from the Grice heirs, the Brackenridge estate, the Huntress family, and W. A. Druce to become sole owners of the paper. Airnews, Incorporated, and KENS radio were sold. Conway C. Craig, president and publisher of the Corpus Christi Caller-Times, became president and publisher, and Houston Harte, president of the San Angelo Standard-Times, became vice president. Frank Huntress, Jr., became chairman of the board. In 1965 a newsroom staff of eighty-eight celebrated the hundredth anniversary of the founding of the Express. In 1972 the managing editor of the Express was Ken Kennamer, and Charles O. Kilpatrick served as publisher, executive editor, and vice president. Daily circulation of the paper in that year was 81,936. Rupert Murdoch purchased the paper in 1973 and in 1984 combined it with the News to form the Express-News. In 1992 competition between the Express-News and the San Antonio Light ended when the Hearst Corporation announced the closing of the Light and the purchase of the Express-News. In 1993 the paper was published by W. Lawrence Walker, Jr., edited by Jim Moss, and had a six-day circulation of 264,238 and a Sunday circulation of 396,656.

William Corner, San Antonio de Bexar: A Guide and History (San Antonio: Bainbridge and Corner, 1890). Green Peyton [Wertenbacker], San Antonio (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1946). San Antonio Express, November 26, 1940. Marilyn M. Sibley, Lone Stars and State Gazettes: Texas Newspapers before the Civil War (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1983).
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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Frances Donecker, “San Antonio Express-News,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed July 05, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

February 1, 1996