J.W. Fishburn, publisher of the Mexia Ledger, was the first president of Texas Press Association and one of the original signers of the call for the first meeting. He was active in the organization of the body and helpful in laying a strong foundation for its perpetuation.
On May 19, 1880, Fishburn and 72 others met in Houston to organize the association with the expressed mission to be “the promotion of the welfare of the Texas press, the elevation of its character, the inculcation of the feeling of harmony and the protection of its rights.” Texas Press Association had grown to 106 members when Fishburn called the second annual meeting to order at Pilot’s Opera House in Houston on May 11, 1881.
Fishburn was born in Franklin County, Va., in 1831 and arrived in Texas in 1857. He is listed as a member of Waul's Legion, a Confederate army detachment that formed in Brenham in 1862 and participated in the Battle of Vicksburg in 1863. His first newspaper work in Texas was with the Belton Journal. In 1869, he established the Fairfield Recorder, but moved the plant to Mexia in 1872 and established the Mexia Ledger.
Fishburn and the Mexia Ledger are listed in the Newspapers Published in Texas section of The Texas Rural Register and Immigrants Hand-Book, for 1875. Fishburn and the Mexia Ledger are listed in Vol. III of Johnson's New University Cyclopedia: A Scientific and Popular Treasure of Useful Knowledge, published in 1877. Fishburn and the Mexia Ledger are listed in Pettengill's Newspaper Directory and Advertisers' Hand-Book for 1878. Fishburn and the Mexia Ledger appear in George. C. Rowell's Newspaper Directory for January 1879, with the following information: Fridays; four pages; 24x36; subscription $2; established 1869; J.W. Fishburn, editor and publisher; circulation K. That issue of Rowell's directory listed in Texas 21 dailies, two tri-weeklies, one semi-weekly, 177 weeklies, one semi-monthly, three monthlies, and one quarterly, for a total of 206 newspapers.
Fishburn is listed in the Report of the Commissioner - U.S. Fisheries, 1882, for having filed an application on Dec. 4, 1880, at the Mexia post office for the distribution of 20 carp at Limestone County. Fishburn owned for a time a half-interest in the Corsicana Independent. Fishburn, at the time of his death, was considering the purchase of a half-interest in the Dallas Times, then owned by Col. William Greene "Bill" Sterett.