February 25, 1911: Newspaperman Jim Comstock Born in Richwood

Feb 25, 2019

Credit e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia / via Doug Chadwick / Goldenseal

Newspaperman Jim Comstock was born in Richwood on February 25, 1911. After serving in the Navy during World War II, he returned to his hometown and established the Richwood News Leader. Then, in 1957, he founded the legendary West Virginia Hillbilly newspaper. The Hillbilly became a forum for Comstock’s conservative politics and wry wit.

A consummate practical joker, Comstock once injected ramp juice into his ink as a nod to Richwood’s annual Feast of the Ramson. After the pungent newspapers were mailed to subscribers, Comstock was reprimanded by the U.S. postmaster general for sending the offensive-smelling ink through the mail. And he founded the University of Hard Knocks, an honorary society for successful individuals who never completed college.

Comstock also published the book Pa and Ma and Mr. Kennedy and the 50-volume West Virginia Heritage Encyclopedia. 

In 1963, he created Mountain State Press to publish important books about West Virginia. In addition, he fought to preserve author Pearl Buck’s birthplace at Hillsboro and to rescue the historic Cass Scenic Railroad. The best-known newspaperman of his generation, Jim Comstock died in 1996 at age 85.