The Wilmington Evening Star was first published on September 23, 1867, by Major Willam H. Bernard. Bernard initially worked out of a one-room office over a grocery store at 3 South Water Street in the Port City. In his announcement of the paper’s establishment, Bernard wrote “We trust the littleness of our enterprise will not prove a damper to public expectation. ‘Tall oaks from little acorns.’” Less than a month into publication the paper became a morning daily, taking the name Wilmington Morning Star. Bernard realized that he could increase circulation and improve its timing by getting the paper out to the railroads in the morning.
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Bernard, having served the Confederacy, believed that newspapers would help guide the Reconstruction South during economic and social upheaval. Bernard’s papers represented the conservative viewpoint (he was an intensely loyal Democrat), supporting that party’s efforts at political reform and economic development. His first newspaper, organized in 1865 as the Wilmington Dispatch, lasted only two years. His second venture, the Star, would become the oldest daily newspaper still in operation in North Carolina. Other daily newspapers in North Carolina claim earlier origins than the Star, but they come through connections with defunct parent publications. The Wilmington News Dispatch was purchased in 1929 by the Morning Star parent company, R. W. Page Corporation. Publisher Rinaldo Burrus Page purchased the papers from the corporation in 1940 and championed economic development, becoming an outspoken advocate of the State Ports Authority. The two papers merged and are now owned by the New York Times Company.
Fred Harbin, speech at the dedication of the Highway Historical Marker, April 6, 1971, copy in marker files, North Carolina Office of Archives and History
Wilmington Morning Star, July 23, 1970
James Sprunt, Chronicles of the Cape Fear River, 1660-1916 1916)
Thad Stem Jr., The Tar Heel Press (1973)