At the invitation of a group of Gaffney businessmen, Edward Hope Decamp came to Gaffney to begin a weekly newspaper.
DeCamp, a native of Charlotte, was just 29 years old when he arrived in Gaffney. Despite having just a 4th-grade education, DeCamp became an experienced printer and newspaperman. He delivered newspapers after quitting school and at the age of 13 began working in the print shop of the Charlotte Observer.
His printing carried him across the Eastern Seaboard and in 1884 he worked for Joseph Pulitzer at The New York World. In the late 1880s he founded The Charlotte Star, which he called a financial disaster.
From there he went to Columbia and was a compositor at The State newspaper when the first edition was printed in 1891. He was later promoted to pressroom foreman and became close friends with the Gonzales brothers and always attributed everything he knew about newspapers to the founders of The State.
While in this position at The State, DeCamp received the invitation to come to Gaffney, and he accepted.
The proposal included a salary of $50 per month and an opportunity for future ownership. Slow mail service delayed the Gaffney businessmen's response, so DeCamp considered another offer in Washington, D.C.
"I thought hard over that proposition and I realized that no matter the consequences I couldn't go back on my word. I had told those men I would go to Gaffney and although I was afraid it might not be too lucrative, financially speaking, I couldn't do anything else, so I went," he later explained.
He arrived in Gaffney with $10 in his pocket, this constituting his entire worldly possessions at the time.
One of the stockholders in The Ledger, Professor R.O. Sams, served as the paper's first editor, with DeCamp serving as manager and local editor.
H.P Griffith became the paper's second editor in 1897, the same year DeCamp gained exclusive control of the paper. By using much of his monthly salary to purchase stock, DeCamp was able to own the paper outright a few years later.
During the 33 years that DeCamp was publisher, The had three homes. The first was a print shop at the corner of Limestone and Birnie Streets, where a parking lot is today. The next was in the Star (later Strand) Theatre building diagonally across the street, where Hartzog's is now located.
The third site was across Limestone Street, a few doors up.
In 1897, The Weekly Ledger became a twice-a-week publication and changed its name to The Ledger. In 1917, DeCamp took another step forward and increased the paper's publication to three times a week.
DeCamp was referred to as "Colonel" by his friends, but never in the newspaper. The title was entirely honorary and he once threatened to fire a reporter who had used it in a story.
In 1927, now 62 years old, DeCamp sold The Ledger to his son-in-law, Frank Sossamon, and S.C. Littlejohn, both of whom had been connected with the paper for some time, Littlejohn as editor and Sossamon as business manager. The new owners were to pay for the paper printing the Grit and Steel a game fowl magazine DeCamp acquired in 1899, which had worldwide circulation.
DeCamp invested in cotton mills, banks, hotels, theaters, service stations, real estate and an axe handle plant.
Except for modest real estate returns, DeCamp reportedly made little money except from the Grit and Steel.
Like many others, he suffered hard in the crash of 1929 and ensuing depression and this probably kept him from becoming a wealthy man. However, he survived, as did The Ledger, under Sossamon and Littlejohn.
After DeCamp's death in 1952, a tribute was paid him at a meeting of the S.C. Press Association:
"More than 50 years ago Colonel DeCamp established The Gaffney Ledger and from the day of its inception The Ledger has been one of the state's leading newspapers ... He had a very analytical mind and could detect sham and deceit at a glance. A man of tender feelings a generous impulses, he endeared himself to his community."
Frank's son and DeCamp's grandson, Louis Sossamon, purchased the newspaper from Frank in 1969. In 1974 Louis built a facility on W. Floyd Baker Boulevard to house the Ledger offices and printing plant. He remained publisher until 1999, when his son, Cody, took over the day-to-day operation of the paper.
Cody Sossamon joined The Ledger in 1976 and served as advertising director for about 10 years He then served as executive editor and associate publisher until he became the newspaper's fourth publisher. Klonie Jordan was named editor in 1991.
Abbie Sossamon, Cody's daughter, joined the The Ledger in October, 2015, to become the 5th generation of the Sossamon family to be associated with the family-owned newspaper. She is the Feautres and Lifetyles editor.
The Ledger continues to be published tri-weekly on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. A total market coverage newspaper, The Weekly Ledger, launched in the mid-1980s, is delivered to 25,000 Cherokee County households each week.