Publication History:

Place of Publication:  Oakland Hall, Chunchula, Alabama, and Willow Creek Farm, Waverly, Nebraska

Volume and Issue Data:  Monthly; Vol. 1, No. 1, Sept. 30, 1870, Vol. 1, No. 2, Oct. 15, 1870, Oakland Hall, Chunchula, AL; Vol. 1, No. 3 has very similar content and is dated the same as Vol. 1, No. 4, March 1, 1873, Willow Creek Farm, Waverly, NB

Size and Format:  Vol. 1, No. 1:  ledger paper, 22 x 24 in.; Vol. 1, Nos. 2 and 4:  ledger paper, 14 x. 22;  Vol. 1, No. 3:  ledger paper, 7.5 x 12

Editor/Publisher:  Vol. 1, Nos. 1 and 2 (in Alabama):  Chas. A. Pierce, editor, C.A. Caldwell, publisher; Vol. 1, Nos. 3 and 4 (Nebraska):  Charles A. Pierce, editor and proprietor

Title Changes and Continuations:  WILLOW CREEK JOURNAL

General Description & Notes:

The Experiment’s four extant numbers contain a variety of news stories, poems and essays.  Numbers three and four have very similar content, such that the third issue may have been a “draft” or early version of the fourth issue.

Numbers three and four contain an “editorial” which gives some history of the publication:

Two years ago at Oakland Hall, Ala., a paper was published, called ‘The Experiment.’  A few numbers had been issued, when suddenly the Editor was taken sick with a fever, caused by his Editorial labors.

Then, the Publisher went into other business [deserted him].  When the Editor recovered, and inquired for another Publisher, none could be had [found][And so] The publication of the Experiment was therefore suspended for a time.  [And] Now our intent is to continue publishing this paper through the [winter] year of 1873, if not longer.  The motto [is] will be the same as before; “Progress and Perseverence [sic].”  See Prospectus for Winter of 1872-1873 in [on third Page] another column.  Will all of the inhabitants of Willow Creek Farm give us their assistance?  [Note:  Boldface text appears only in No. 3; italic text appears only in No. 4; all other text is common to both issues]

The prospectus referred to in the editorials in both numbers notes that because spring work is coming, “we cannot publish regular issues all along during the Spring and Summer, but will try and publish one by the end of February, and once in a while one, until Fall” (Vol. 1, No. 3, p. 3, col. 1).

A serialized story about “Johnny’s Wanderings” (also titled “Johnny’s Adventures, or the life of a boy among the Indians” in Nos. 3 and 4) appears in all the numbers.  A “Synopsis” of the story appears in No. 3 (but not No. 4, although the Prospectus promises one) “so as the old readers of the story (who may have forgotten the part of it published in the No’s. 1&2 in 1870) as well as the new, may understand what follows” (Vol. 1, No. 3, p. 3, col. 1).  A note in small script appears above the title for the “Johnny” story in No. 3:  “All the articles of this paper are entirely original except those of this department.”

The first number identifies the “Rules” for reading and writing for the paper:

1st–No one except the Editor, Proof Reader and Publisher shall look at ‘The Experiment’ without writing an article for the same for every number.

2d–All articles for ‘The Experiment’ must be written in a plain hand, whi8ch can be easily read by the Editor.

3d–Articles for publication must be handed in before noon of the day previous to that on which the paper is issued.

4th–No one allowed to peep in the Editor’s drawer, or endeavor to read articles before they are published.  –Ed.

The editor, Charles A. Pierce, was the son of Charles W. Pierce, a civil war veteran, who was transferred to Demopolis, Alabama in 1866 as a major with the Freedman’s Bureau and District commander of western Alabama.  The senior Pierce served one term in the 41st Congress from Alabama’s fourth district in 1867.  It was during this time that his son, Charles A., began his first handwritten newspaper, THE EXPERIMENT, at Oakland Hall, Chunchula, Alabama.  In 1872 the family moved to Waverly, Nebraska, where THE EXPERIMENT, and its successor, WILLOW CREEK JOURNAL were published by Charles A in 1873.  THE CASKET appeared in Nebraska in 1875 as a school effort, no doubt with the help of Charles A.

Information Sources:

Bibliography:  None

Locations:  Nebraska State Historical Society, State Archives, Lincoln, NB, Charles W. Pierce papers, Ms. 554