History of Oregon Newspapers/Curry County

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Though he did not start the first paper, the first half century of Curry county journalism revolves pretty much around Walter Sutton, real Oregon pioneer, who crossed the plains in 1854, and many years later purchased the Port Orford Post from J. H. Upton & Son, who had established it in 1880.

The new paper was started as the Curry County Post, and the first number, four five-column, 10x14 type pages, appeared at Port Orford Thursday, May 27, 1880. Ellensburg, later to be known as Gold Beach, was the county seat, and it was the original plan of the Uptons to start the paper there. The first item in volume 1, No. i, is an editorial in news form headed Change of Base—"Port Orford Post," explaining that "it would be unnecessary for us to give any lengthy reasons which determined the establishment of the Post at Port Orford instead of at Ellensburg as at first contemplated." It is explained that "two papers flourish in Coos county, neither of which is published in the County Seat, and they as fully subserve their missions as local journals as if both were printed in Empire City," and it is announced that "as soon as the proper heading reaches us (which will probably be during the present week) 'Port Orford Post' will be substituted for 'Curry County Post.'" The inside headings, in fact, already were changed to "Port Orford Post" in the first issue.

The little paper in its first number devotes itself to the support of the Port Orford harbor improvement project (referred to in sev eral articles as the Harbor of Refuge) (133). An article a column long is reprinted from the Alta California of San Francisco, dated May 7, describing the harbor improvement project. The Alta recalled that in March, 1873, it had favored the development of a Harbor of Refuge and indicated Port Orford as the point "which would, by a Board of Hydrographic Engineers, be probably selected for such an improvement." The article was an enthusiastic recommendation of Port Orford for the improvement, for which, it was recited, Congress had appropriated $150,000 to be expended wherever the Board of Hydrographic Engineers might decide. The decision for Port Orford had been announced in the Alta of the previous day, in the face of requests for breakwaters from "every man that had a sawmill on the coast A similar article, no less laudatory of Port Orford as the place for the breakwater, was reprinted from the San Francisco Chronicle.

The project was delayed, however, perhaps because of strong opposition from Portland. The Portland papers argued strongly for the selection of the Columbia river. Columns of the little Post were devoted to condemnation of Portland and the Portland newspapers for what was called a "characteristic dog-in-the-manger attitude." "A narrow, selfish policy is always contemptible," said Upton, referring in particular to the Oregonian.

In any event Upton found the present too dull to hold him in Port Orford notwithstanding the promise of a rosy future, and the sale to Walter Sutton came in two years.

The little Post was conservatively neat in typography, with five narrow (112-em, slightly less than the present standard 12-em, two-inch) columns. No headline was larger than two lines of 8point bold capital letters, (smaller type than in the body of this book), and most of them in fact, were even smaller, with a good many items up to a full inch in length entirely headlines

Upton's Post was one of the newsiest-appearing small-town papers in the state. By count, page 1 contained 41 separate items, all the way from two-line personals to a column of news correspondence from Ellensburg. Other pages, containing editorials, general news, and miscellaneous matter, brought the total to 86 articles, long and short. Advertising patronage was short, slightly more than one column of the 20, though rates were announced as "reasonable." The biggest ad was a two-column "office plugger" for the Port Orford Post, "only two dollars a year," J. H. Upton & Son, proprietors. All the advertising was in the same old label, card style of the 40's, from which the newspapers had not, to any extent, broken away. No advertising appeared on the front page.

In his salutatory Upton sketches briefly his own journalistic experience, praises Curry county and its resources "in gold and silver, coal, iron, copper, chrome, stone quarries, and timbers of the most valuable species;" which, with the prospect of the construction of the breakwater, persuaded the publishers to select Port Orford rather than Ellensburg. The Post announced it would be "in all things fearless and independent, seeking to cripple no cause that is right, and conceding nothing to that which is wrong." The Post was to be politically independent.

As in the case of a good many pioneer publications, the Post's quarters in Port Orford were not imposing, one version being that the early numbers were issued from the woodshed of J. B. Tichenor, real estate dealer.

The Post had accumulated little history when Walter Sutton bought the paper in 1882. The plant consisted of one case of type and a small job press. It wasn't much of a job, then, for Sutton, whose daughter, Mrs. Jesse Turner, is still a resident of Gold Beach, to move the plant by boat to Ellensburg.

Though nearly 20 years older than Sutton, Upton did not come to Oregon until 9 years later, having in the meantime done newspapering in his native Ohio and in Iowa until the Civil war, when he enlisted with the Tenth Iowa, serving until invalided for spinal trouble. Before going to Curry county he had done newspaper work in Salem and Albany and had started the Lafayette Courier in 1866.

The Post, as indicated, did not develop much until after Sutton moved it to Ellensburg. Sutton, born in Cass county, Illinois, in 1849, came to Oregon with his parents when he was 5 years old. His first newspaper work was done in the office of the Oregon Sentinel as Jacksonville in 1862, as apprentice, under Orange Jacobs, editor, only three years after W. G. T'Vault, Oregon's first editor, had severed his connection with the paper. Two years later he went to Portland and worked in the William Davis Carter job office. Back to Jacksonville, he worked a few months in Jackson county's only drug store, then returned to the Sentinel office as foreman. In March 1869 he went back to Portland and worked on the Oregonian as a compositor. His first visit to Curry county was made as a vacation trip in the 70's. He liked the country so well that he let his substitute have the Portland job and remained on the coast. He was elected county clerk in 1876 and served three terms. It was during his tenure of this office that he began the work of putting Curry county journalism really on the map. He was elected representative in the legislature in 1884, and county treasurer in 1886, serving until 1892. He was in the publishing business from 1882 almost continuously until his death in 1929, in his eightieth year.

This was the man who acquired the Post in 1882 by purchase from J. H. Upton and Son (J. M.). Soon after moving the plant to Ellensburg he installed a Washington hand-press, added several cases of type and other equipment needed in getting out a newspaper. He now called it the Curry County Post. The paper was a weekly six-column folio, with a subscription list of about 300 in the early 80's. Land and timber notices were the mainstay of the paper, together with the official county printing. When, after several years, the name of the town was changed to Gold Beach, Mr. Sutton changed the name of the paper to the Gold Beach Gazette. He continued the paper until 1892, selling it then to R. D. Hume, who suspended it a short time later.

Soon Mr. Sutton went to San Francisco, purchased another plant, and, moving to Port Orford, gave that town its second paper, the Tribune. His first issue appeared May 10, 1892. The paper was a seven-column folio, with a subscription list said to be 500, at $1.50 a year. It wasn't all cash. Mrs. Turner recalls that her father accepted on subscription anything that could be used by a large family-"many times a sack of dry beans or potatoes."

The Suttons got out their papers under pioneer conditions. "My father with the aid of his children could do all the work," Mrs. Turner writes, "setting the type and printing one side of the paper, distributing the type, setting it again, and printing the other side. He made his own rollers for the presses, out of glue, lampblack, and other ingredients I do not remember, made the lye to wash the forms, and until the last few years would write by hand all the mailing list.

"In the early part of his newspaper career the mails would come in only once or twice a week, so the news that wasn't local was a little old, and, needless to say, everyone who visited this neck of the woods had his or her name in the paper."

All files were lost in a fire a few years ago.

After 12 years Mr. Sutton sold the paper to Walter Riley, who retired after a year, when Mr. Sutton resumed possession. He published the paper for two more years, then selling to Frank A. Stewart & Son (Hardy T. Stewart, editor), who changed the publication from Tuesday to Wednesday and carried on the paper for 16 years. The Stewarts sold back to Sutton and his son George. They in turn sold to F. W. Fulton, who after two years sold to a rival paper, the Curry County Reporter, and publication of the Tribune was suspended.

The Reporter dates back to September 1915. Late in 1917 the paper, founded by E. M. Bogardus, was sold to A. E. (Jack) Guyton and John A. Juza, both of Marshfield, with Juza in resident charge as editor. Juza ran the paper for several years. Robert L Withrow, formerly of the Portland Telegram, conducted the paper for the Macleay estate of Portland until December 1932, when Reuben C. Young, former printer on the Eugene Register and the Redmond Spokesman, became editor and publisher. Mrs. Young (Olive Adams), daughter of Prof. Percy P. Adams of the University of Oregon, is a member of the Adams family to which W. L. Adams, pioneer editor of the Oregon City Argus in the 50's, belonged.

The Wedderburn Gazette, which is noted in Ayer's as running from 1893 to 1901, with E. M. Bogardus as editor and publisher, appears to be the old Gold Beach Gazette revived after the suspension by R. D. Hume reported by Mrs. Turner. Mr. Hume carried the volume number back to 1880 (the founding-date of the old Post), and the Gazette later noted in Ayer's with E. M. Bogardus as editor and publisher has as its founding-date 1893, indicating, perhaps, a resumption after a suspension.

R. D. Hume, representative of the Macleay estate of Curry county in the early 1900's, and an early salmon-canner of southern Oregon, was the founder and publisher of another paper, the Radium, issued at Wedderburn from 1904 to 1909 with O. W. Briggs, Hume himself, H. J. Criffen, and W. E. Thresher successively as editors.

Curry county has had several other newspapers. There was the Curry County Recorder, founded in 1902, which ran for several years, at Gold Beach, with August J. Krantz as editor-publisher. It was a Republican paper, issued Thursdays. It failed to get into the 1906 edition of Ayer's.

Then there was the Globe, launched by S. E. Marsters as a Thursday weekly in 1905, which ran along at Gold Beach under several different editors and publishers for several years.

The Port Orford News, fruit of one of the latest efforts to maintain a newspaper in the town, was established by George W. Soranson in 1926. As secretary of the chamber of commerce and publisher of the News he is credited with having done much to promote the development of Port Orford. He helped to get a coast guard station established, was largely responsible for clearing the coast highway of billboards between Bandon and the state line. He also assisted in having set apart a state park commanding a view of Battle Rock, a historic spot, at Port Orford. On his death, aged 56, March 10, 1933, it was proposed to honor his memory with a roadside marker in recognition of his life interest in preserving the natural beauties of Oregon highways.

Port Orford again has a newspaper, named, as was Curry county's first paper, the Port Orford Post. Managing editor is Frank Fay Eddy.