Journalists write the first drafts of history. George Wolfford wrote first drafts as a reporter and second drafts as an historian for the Ashland, Kentucky, newspaper, chronicling events and people from the region.

George Harrison Wolfford was born on July 3, 1935, attended the K-12 Prichard School, and then Eastern Kentucky College (now EKU), he majored in English and business, served as student council vice president his senior year and graduated in 1955. He married fellow Eastern student Wanda Geraldine Jackson of Harlan County on September 6, 1955 and they soon settled in Ashland. He took a job at Armco Steel Corporation. After two years at this mill, he was cut in a major layoff.

His temporary unemployment was miserable. In late February 1958 he walked into the Ashland Daily Independent on 17th Street for an interview and was asked primarily, “Can you type?” The newspaper hired him.

His first and most formative story came before he ever clocked in, opened his eyes to reporting’s harsh realities and shaped his journalistic approach—a dutiful yet circumspect engagement with empathy for his subjects. As he drove down U.S. 23 on February 28, 1958, he learned that a Floyd County school bus had crashed into the Big Sandy River and killed 27 . . . .

Read more in By George: Articles from the Ashland Daily Independent, available at the Jesse Stuart Foundation, 606-326-4440.

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