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First published in June of 1889, The Beacon’s founding father, D.O. Brinkley, was only passively involved in the paper’s day-to-day activities. By July 12, 1889 W. Fletcher Ausbon was named Editor; Thomas Huson served as Business Manager.
In April of the following year, W. Fletcher Ausbon and his brother, Clarence V.W. Ausbon, bought The Beacon. Some five years later, with a young family to support, W. Fletcher Ausbon sold his share to Clarence V.W. Ausbon and went into the insurance business. Although his interests became varied, including a long stint as Clerk of Courts, Clarence V.W. Ausbon retained ownership of The Beacon until April 1929, when he sold it to Lee Roy Harris.
Harris, a young 23 when he bought the newspaper, had worked there since he was 12, with the exception of a three-month stint to study typography in New York. At the same time, The Beacon was consolidated with the Washington County News, a publication that was started in October 1928.
Slightly more than a year after buying the newspaper, Harris sold it in September 1930, to the Enterprise Publishing Company of Williamston. Partners included W.C. Manning Sr., W.C. Manning Jr., Francis M. Manning and W.H. Booker, who became manager of the paper.
The Mannings’ partnership was dissolved on January 1, 1956, and Booker became the sole owner. He and his son, W.H. “Jack” Booker, published The Beacon for about two years, until November 1957, when it was purchased by a corporation headed by Tom A. Phillips Jr., a native of Bristol, Virginia.
Phillips stayed with the paper until it was sold to Doward Nixon Jones Sr., a Perquimans County, NC native, in 1962; with Doward serving as Editor and Salesman and his wife, Hope, working in the office and assisting with the sales effort. Their son, Doward N. Jones Jr. helped his parents through the years and was named Editor upon his father’s death in 1996.
Two years later, in September 1998, the business was sold to the newly formed Washington County Newspapers, Inc.; Louisburg, NC resident Gary Cunard was the corporation’s president and majority shareholder.
On January 1, 2005, Cunard sold the paper to Wayne Printing Company, Inc., headquartered in Goldsboro, NC.
Over a decade later, on January 1, 2018, long-time editor Mary Wayt and her husband, Mark, bought the business. Finally, after nearly 30 years, The Beacon was back in local hands.
With a firm foundation provided by our founders and the dedicated newspapermen that followed, and an unchanging belief that we are caretakers of a public institution, The Beacon staff continues to compile and distribute news, views and happenings of Washington County every Wednesday utilizing efficiencies that modern technology affords.