History of Oregon Newspapers/Harney County

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Burns and Harney.—The Burns Times-Herald, through its various consolidations, has come down as a direct descendant of the Harney Valley Items, established more than half a century ago (in September, 1885). The Harney Valley Items, circulation about 200, though the first paper in what is now Harney county, was not established in that county but in Grant, from which the new county was taken in 1889.

Charles A. Byrd, of the Times-Herald staff, remembers the start. As a boy he was engaged in hauling wood for the winter, and one day in the late fall he looked through the window and saw Horace A. Dillard and his helpers printing the first issue.

Mr. Dillard had come from Prineville, attracted by final proof notices. Six years after he had looked in through the window, C. A. Byrd bought the paper. This was in 1891.

Meanwhile the new Harney country was sprouting other ambitious publications. Mr. and Mrs. D. L. Grace launched the East Oregon Herald in 1887. The Harney Times, an independent Saturday weekly, later absorbed by the Herald, was started by Ben Brown in November, 1889, with M. Fitzgerald as editor. Later Mrs. (Nellie R.) Grace started the News for an interesting reason later to be related. This completes the early set-ups from which the consolidations were effected which resulted in the present Times-Herald.

Getting back to the Items: It was sold subsequently (161) to a stock company headed by Hank Levens, later Harney county judge. The paper was consolidated later with the News, established by Mrs. Grace in 1894.

As indicated, Mr. and Mrs. Grace had launched the Herald. C. A. Byrd, his father W. C. Byrd, and his brother Julian, now co-publisher of the Times-Herald with Douglas Mullarky, bought the Herald in 1891 with the understanding that they were to run a newspaper. Mrs. Grace set up an office with part of her formeir equipment to do commercial job printing. Later, when the Byrds had a job-press freighted in to supplant the old Washington handpress in printing the paper, Mrs. Grace interpreted the move as a plan to establish a job department of their own. She therefore went back into the newspaper business with her own new paper, the News, in 1894. The Herald and the Times, started in 1887 and 1889 respectively, remained.

Now for a bit of description of the papers:

The Items, vol. 2, No. 30 (February 16, 1887): A six-column folio. No ads on the first page, four columns on the second, four and a half on the third, and three and a half on the fourth, or a total of 12 columns of advertising out of 24, or 50 per cent. The paper contained 16 notices of final proof on land. Advertising was carried by hotels, stage lines, blacksmithing, drug stores, general merchandise, Prineville Boot and Shoe Co. ("send your orders by stage, Marlin rifle, two livery stables, grocery store, saloon, meat market, two barbers (one, Lee Caldwell, a "practical" barber; the other, C. Sampson, practical and mechanical barber), baths Saturdays and Sundays; St. Jacob's Oil, Cuticura, Hall's Sarsaparilla, Piso's Cure for Consumption, D. M. Ferry's Seeds, Royal Baking Powder Dr. Pierce's Pleasant Pellets and Favorite Prescription, Electric Belts, etc. Recall when this sort of thing was fairly standard for all the papers and you're an old-timer.

Not much local news.

A lot of miscellaneous matter clipped from eastern exchanges, including the 1887 brand of jokes and wisecracks: "My mamma gives me a penny every day," said a little girl to her companion, "for taking a dose of castor oil." "What do you buy with so much money?" "Oh, mamma saves it up to buy castor oil with."

The Items, apparently, was full of the spirit and flavor of its day. Perhaps this was illustrated even in its quarters. Before the advent of the Items the building it occupied had been used as the cow-town's "social center." After the altogether informal young women had moved to better quarters behind a saloon across the street, the newspaper plant moved in. The girls' abandoned house made a good newspaper office because the inmats' numerous individual windows gave the place plenty of light for typesetting when the partitions were removed.

When John E. Roberts, later of Ontario, was editor and publisher of the Harney Times, and justice of the peace at Harney, Oregon, in 1893, the paper was a five-column quarto, 12×18. It started off, as many other newspapers of those days, with an official directory, headed by "President, Grover Cleveland; Vice-President Adlai E. Stevenson." Cards for lawyers, doctors, tonsorial artists, and the hotels Tremont at Harney and Hess at Vale. Two little news items, one of them a 5½-inch item under a one-line six-point head on a fatal accident, a reader ad for nursery stock and another for Hall's Catarrh Cure filled the double column. The third column was half taken up by a P.P.P. patent-medicine ad informing the reader of a cure for "all skin and blood diseases, rheumatism, malaria, dyspepsia"; filled out by a 3-inch ad for Munn & Co., patent lawyers, and the Scientific American, and a four-inch ad for Coventry Cross bicycles. In the fourth and fifth columns were two big double-column ads, one for the O. C. Co. (not spelled out), which solicited trade from ranchers, cattlemen, horsemen, sheepmen, and cowboys and reminded the reader that "last year we sold 157½ carloads," and the other for King's Mill, Harney, "Cheap Lumber."

Page two was occupied half by editorial and miscellany, and half by advertising. One little item read:

The Portland Telegram has been reduced to a folio on account of hard times.

And another:

The Burns Items, under the Newell et al. regime, has reduced to two pages of home print, having adopted a patent outside. If the man of steel-trap fame remains at the helm that little leaflet will have to pass the hat again.

Mr. Roberts believed in pictures, and he even illustrated his editorials; for example, on page 2:


He speaks to the People in Unmistakable
Tones, and They
Know His
(under this a 2-col. cut of a braying donkey)

Newell (the little editorial reads) raises his voice in praise of his deeds and extols Commissioner Gowan. The people turn away in disgust from his nauseating noise.

On page 3—Two columns of local items sized from one line to 16 lines long. Then more than half a column devoted to a case brought by Charles Newe, editor of the Items (of which, by the way, Mr. Roberts became editor after a year or so) against John E. Roberts of the Times. The nature of the case is not stated, but very likely it was libel, if we may judge by the type of comment contained in this particular issue. One example:

In the absence of the county school superintendent (Newell) Dave Claypool conducted the local instituate at Pine Creek the 20th. It is said to have been a great improvement on those held by the man of steel trap notoriety. Dave will not charge the county $50 for it, either; although he has a The rest of the column is devoted to a 5½-inch ad for the much better right to the pay than Newell.

Rudge Celery Pill Co In the fourth and fifth columns—advertising as follows: General store, Hotel Burns, Elite Saloon, Sam Mickel shingle mill. Haines store advertisement reads:

A Great (1½×2½-inch picture of a cat) Astrophe! High Price was murdered at my store in Harney, Or., July 8, 1893. FRED HAINES. Watch this space for particulars.

Page four is all advertising. The advertisers were: Abbott's East Indian Corn Paint for corns, bunions and warts; Portable Soda Fountains; Aluminum Silver Solid Metal Tableware; Racine Farm and Warehouse Fanning Mills; Asthma Cured by Ashmalene; Geer Bros. tinware, Burns; Brenton & Buchanan, White Front Livery Stable; two timber land claim notices; Loggan & Foester Old Pioneer Store; Elite Saloon at Burns; Harney Valley Drug Store at Burns, W. E. Grace, proprietor; Watrous Anti-Rattler; E. C. Allen & Co., Augusta, Me., offering chance for agents to make $300 a month.

This paper, like so many others of the old-timers, makes one wonder what the papers would have done without the medicine ads. Business houses, excluding saloons, were few, and only the cure-all people seemed to have any particular grasp of the principles, or, in this connection let's say the techniques, of advertising and publicity; while the livery stable business was a poor substitute for the Octane and Floating Power stuff of the automotive industry.

The Herald, whose first editor, Mr. Grace, was a school teacher from Missouri and whose wife was assistant editor and compositor, was a little less lively and atmospheric than the other Burns papers mentioned. (Mrs. Grace later became librarian at Cove and was still holding that position in her extreme old age after she had lost her sight.) It was a seven-column, four-page paper, with two pages of ready print, the other two printed in the office. The original plant-a few fonts of type and a Washington hand press-was shipped in from Huntington, Baker county, by horse freight. Julian Byrd, editor of the present Times-Herald, learned the printing business in the Herald office in December 1889 and is now rounding out a half century in the same office. It should have been mentioned that C. A. Byrd published the Harney Valley Items for three years, after which, in 1893, he sold the paper to a stock company. Deciding to go Republican, the company hired Horace Dillard, the founder, to come back and run the paper, which later was absorbed by the News.

The News, in which C. A. Byrd was associated with Frank Davey, veteran publisher who had worked on the Statesman and the Capital Journal in Salem and who also was active in state politics, brought in Burns' first linotype in 1910. Byrd bought his partner out in 1914, when Davey was elected to the legislature. He installed a second linotype in 1916. The News, after some changes of ownership, including one which brought in Douglas Mullarky as editor and publisher in 1926, came down to 1930, when the Times-Herald and the News were consolidated as the Times-Herald, with Julian Byrd as editor and Douglas Mullarky as manager. The consolidated paper became a daily, issued five times a week, with a wire news report, in August, 1933, when Burns became the seat of extensive lumbering operations by the Edward Hines Lumber Company. For the last year the paper has been running again as a weekly.

In an interview with Fred Lockley (162), Mr. Byrd mentioned the Burns Tribune as another paper he had purchased and merged with his, noting, incidentally, that the News, consolidated with the Times-Herald in 1930, was his 32nd competitor.

The Burns Free Press, a weekly paper started by Syd Pearce in 1930, was moved to Bend in 1935.

Leo A. Mars is publishing (1939) the Harney County American weekly at Burns, moved from Crane in 1936.

Here is an excerpt from the Harney Press reflecting (October 22, 1890) on the current money stringency:

In order to get a little ready cash the editor of the Press has been teaching school, the junior editor of the Herald is waiting on table at the Burns hotel, and the editor of the Items says he is looking for a soft job of sawing wood.

Crane.—P. J. Gallagher, later of Ontario and Portland, and George E. Carter, formerly a White Salmon (Wash.) publisher, founded the Crane American August 18, 1916. Mr. Gallagher, who was a lawyer, did not remain long, but Mr. Carter continued the publication until 1935, when he first leased, then sold, in May, to Clyde B. Cornell. The first issue was a six-column, six-page paper, 5x22 inches, with close to five columns of local news on page 1. The masthead breathed optimism; the paper was "published every Friday in the only railroad town in Harney county." The publishers wasted no space in announcing their aims to the readers, saying simply: "If you receive a copy of this paper, please consider it an invitation to subscribe. You will need the paper and we need the money, and therefore we ought to have little trouble getting together." The paper had two pages of "boiler plate" and one page ad for the Crane Townsite Co. The paper moved to Burns in 1936.