May 28, 1869
|Died||October 17, 1949
|Known for||Owner of Tulsa World|
Eugene Lorton (1869-1949) was the long-time editor and publisher of the Tulsa World newspaper. Born in Missouri, he moved to Tulsa in 1911, where he bought a minority interest in the Tulsa World. Within six years, he owned the newspaper outright. He spent the rest of his life in Tulsa.
Eugene Lorton was born on a farm in Montgomery County, Missouri, near Middletown on May 28, 1869. His father, R. R. Lorton, was a farmer and stock raiser who also worked on farms in Kansas and Texas. In his youth, Eugene attended public schools in Missouri and Kansas, before starting work as a printer's apprentice in Medicine Lodge, Kansas. He worked briefly for a railroad, until he was injured in an accident in Kansas City, and returned to the newspaper business.
After recovering from the train accident, Eugene Lorton moved to Idaho Territory, where he returned to the newspaper business. He published weekly papers in Salubria, Emmett and Boise. In 1896, he moved back to Kansas and bought the Linn County Republic in Mound City, Kansas. He became active in politics and was elected mayor of Mound City.
In 1900, he moved to Walla Walla, Washington where he became managing editor of the Walla Walla Daily Union and founded the Walla Walla Daily Bulletin. He also raised his political activity by becoming campaign manager for Governor Cosgrove. When Cosgrove was elected, he appointed Lorton as the chairman of the state board of control.
The Tulsa World had been founded in 1905, and had been owned by Missouri mine owner, George Bayne and his brother-in-law Charles Dent. They also served as editors, after firing the previous editor in 1906, following a financial scandal. Its major competitor was the Morning News, owned by local businessman, Charles Page. Lorton found an opportunity to become editor of, and purchase a one-third interest in, the Tulsa World in 1911, which he increased to one-half interest in 1913, by buying out Bayne's share. By 1917, Lorton, with financial backing of oilman and banker, Harry Sinclair, owned the Tulsa World outright. In 1919, Page sold his paper to Richard Lloyd Jones, who renamed it as the Tulsa Tribune. The two papers would remain competitors until 1992.
Tulsa's quest for a satisfactory water supply in the early 1900s soon developed into an acrimonious political fight and a personal feud between Lorton and Page.
Lorton was active in the Republican party for most of his career. He immediately resumed his activities in Republican party politics after moving to Oklahoma. He was named a member of the finance committee of the Republican National Committee in 1916. However, he became known as a "maverick" after he moved to Oklahoma. He was a supporter of organized labor, continually supported campaign finance reform and strongly opposed the Ku Klux Klan. More conservative opponents in the party called him the "Republican Bryan." Democratic Oklahoma Governor E. W. Marland said that, "...Gene Marland runs a "propaganda sheet."
Lorton ran in the Republican primary of 1924 to be the nominee for U. S. Senator from Oklahoma, but William B. Pine defeated him soundly. In 1928, Lorton publicly supported the Democratic nominee for President, Alfred E. Smith. He transferred his political loyalty to the Democratic Party in 1932, but this turned out to be only temporary. He returned to the Republican Party in 1940, and remained a member for the rest of his life.
- Douglas, Clarence B. The History of Tulsa, Oklahoma, Volume 3. p. 702. Retrieved April 13, 2013. Available on Google Books.
- Cassity, R. O. Joe, Jr. Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture. "Eugene Lorton." Retrieved April 13, 2013.
- Chapman, Lee Roy. "Flim Flammery and the Devil:An Early History of the Tulsa World." January 4, 2012. Retrieved April 14, 2013.
- Curtis, Gene."Only in Oklahoma: Sand Springs founder helped others" at Oklahoma Centennial Stories, Tulsa World Web Extra, October 16, 2007 (accessed April 13, 2013).
- Krehbiel, Randy. Tulsa World. "A Newspaper and Its Town." May 11, 2010. Retrieved April 14, 2013.