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Joseph P. Caldwell, newspaper editor, was born on June 16, 1853, in Statesville, the son of Joseph Pearson Caldwell, Sr., and his wife Amanda McCulloch Caldwell. The younger Caldwell was born just five weeks before the death of his father, a former state legislator and United States congressman.
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At the age of fourteen, Caldwell took an apprenticeship in the office of the Iredell Express, Statesville’s first newspaper, under the tutelage of E. B. Drake. Drake’s newspaper was renamed the Statesville American shortly after the end of the Civil War. Drake became a Republican in 1872, and a rival, Democratic newspaper, the Statesville Intelligencer, appeared in the northern part of Iredell County, published by Charles R. Jones. Jones soon enticed Caldwell away from Drake by offering to raise his pay one dollar a week.
Caldwell continued his journalistic pursuits, eventually becoming an editor of the Charlotte Observer. In January 1880 he purchased the rights to the Statesville Landmark, the successor to the Intelligencer. From 1880 to 1892 Caldwell published the Landmark before buying the Charlotte Chronicle, the successor to the weekly Charlotte Observer. He soon moved to Charlotte, renamed the Chronicle the Observer, and actively managed it into one of the state’s most notable and well respected newspapers.
In 1877 Caldwell married Maggie Spratt. Together they had five children, only three of whom lived to maturity. Maggie died soon after Caldwell purchased the Chronicle, and he subsequently remarried to Addie Williams, who bore him a daughter. Caldwell edited the Charlotte Observer until March 8, 1909, when he suffered a stroke that paralyzed him. Transferred to Broughton Hospital at Morganton, Caldwell died there on November 22, 1911.
William S. Powell, ed., Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, I, 304-305—sketch by Homer M. Keever
Jack Claiborne, The Charlotte Observer: Its Time and Place, 1869-1986 (1986)
H. E. C. Bryant, Joseph Pearson Caldwell, 1853-1911 (1933)