History of Oregon Newspapers/Jackson County
considerable importance. Then came the railroad, which might have made Jacksonville but which, instead, developed a level bare spot in the valley into Medford, metropolis of southern Oregon. The story is, that a little more cooperative spirit on the part of Jacksonville's leading citizens in encouraging the railroad by a small subsidy and land for right-of-way would have put the town on the Southern Pacific's through line. The die was cast, the line missed Jacksonville, and since then Medford has looked toward the future, while Jacksonville still has its glorious past.
When the railroad put Medford on its map, the forty wooden buildings and the big brick went up in that winter season, and Medford was on the waY.
Medford's first newspaper was the Monitor, founded in 1885 by M. A. McGinnis as a Friday weekly. This paper struggled along for two years, finally folding up in January 1887 when its editorpublisher, A. L. Johnson, got into financial difficulties and left the town. The paper has left no striking memories with the old-timers; but, anyway, it was a beginning, good enough, probably, for its small and struggling, though hopeful, field.
Next came the Southern Oregon Transcript, started in 1886 by C. B. Carlisle. It also appears to have been inconspicuous save for its chronological position.
Then came the Mail, which has come on down through the years. Thomas Harlan founded the Mail in 1888 as an independent paper, issued Thursdays. Next publisher was Newell Harlan, in 1890, then Felix G. Kertson in 1891. Ira Phelps is recalled by oldtimers as one of the editors of the Mail, but the records are incomplete.
Better than the newspaper personnel old-timers recall the flood blockade of the winter of 1889-90 when the young town was cut off from all mail for 42 days. In February of 1890, Charlie Strang recalls, a foot of snow went off with a warm rain and carried out the railroad bridges. The mountain just slid into Cow Creek canyon to the north and put a lake 40 feet deep over the railroad. Meanwhile deep snow in the mountains to the south was keeping trains out from that direction. Supplies of all kinds ran short, and the papers were forced to suspend for a time. One issue of the Jacksonville Times, Charles Nickell's paper, came out printed on the backs of old Fourth of July posters.
A. S. Bliton, a young man from North Dakota, arrived in Medford, Sunday, January 6, 1893, full of enthusiasm for the West. So pleased was he with what he saw that he would have purchased the Mail that day had it been possible to transact business. So, he bought it from Publisher Kertson on Monday and ran it for 16 years. The paper was then known as the Southern Oregon Mail, but that seemed to cover too much territory and Mr. Bliton made it the Medford Mail. He ran a four-page, seven-column paper, all homeprinted. The paper had been running Populist. Mr. Bliton changed it to independent and lost a lot of his subscribers.
The town in those days had a population of less than a thousand, but the paper had 500 circulation when Bliton took it over. This was soon cut in two by the newcomer's unpopular political attitude, for neither Democrats, Republicans, nor Populists fancied this "independent" idea.
He kept to his line of policy, however, and, with the town prospering, managed to pick up friends. One of his earliest tasks was to quell quarrels and fights between east-side and west-side factions—divided by the Southern Pacific station, then near the center of the little town. In a year and a half he had the circulation up to 1500—much of it in the surrounding territory. For a time after 1894 he had W. T. York as a partner.
A line on Medford scales and standards in those days is gained from the fact that when the Mail in 1899 moved to new quarters in a brick building it was forced to pay what Publisher Bliton regarded as exorbitant rent of $15 a month. After ten years the landlord erected a new brick building and sent the rent up to $16!
About that time, 1909, Mr. Bliton sold the paper to George Putnam, who since 1907 had been the editor of the new Tribune and had brought an era of livelier journalism to Medford. Mr. Bliton, after many years with the C.-O. Power Company, is now an in surance agent.
Born in New Orleans and educated at the Universitv of Nebraska, Putnam already had accumulated a lot of newspaper experience and had his journalistic character well formed. In 1896 he was reporter on the San Diego (Calif.) Tribune; 1899-1900, private secretary to N. W. Scripps; 1901, coast manager of the Scripps MacRae press service; 1902-04, founder and editor of the Spokane (Wash.) Press; 1904, editor of the Eureka (Calif.) Herald; 1904-07, news editor of the Oregon Journal, part of the time under Johin F. Carroll, former Denver newspaper man who was helping C. S. Jackson make a crusading paper of the new Oregon Journal.
With this background nothing flabby in journalism could have been expected of the new acquisition to Medford journalism. He stirred things up.
Before taking up his Medford career, let's go back and sketch in briefly the rest of the Medford journalism background. The old Monitor had been revived in 1896 and, combined with the Gold Hill Miner, ran through two free-silver campaigns under the editorship of E. Everett Phipps as a silver organ, the Monitor-Miner. The Medford Enquirer, established as a weekly in 1894, was running along as a Democratic paper under the editorship of Horace Mann, suspending in 1904.
The Medford Tribune was, really, a continuation of the old Ashland Tribune, which, founded in 1896, had been conducted as a semi-weekly. Publisher J. M. Potter moved the plant to Medford in March 1906 and started the Tribune for the Tribune Publishing Co. as an evening and weekly Republican paper. The Tribune had, as a twice-a-week edition, the Southern Oregonian, established four years before by Sidney D. Charles. The S. O. had absorbed in 1906 the old Jacksonville Times, conducted so many years by Charles Nickell, and adopted its volume number, going back to 1877. The weekly Sun, issued Sundays, also had been running since 1906, when it was started by L. C. Branson and S. Sumpter Smith. All four of these papers are included with the Mail in the genealogy of the Mail Tribune.
In 1902 Mann ran for a time as a semi-weekly and was encouraged by the young semi-weekly Southern Oregonian, which greeted Mann's announcement with the hope (expressed June 21) that "the Enquirer will meet with the success which its enterprise merits. From a semi-weekly it is but another step to a daily; and when Medford is in a position to support a daily newspaper it can truly be called a metropolitan town."
The daily did not come from either the Enquirer or the Southern Oregonian. The Enquirer faded out before long, and the Southern Oregonian became the semi-weekly edition of the Tribune under George Putnam.
Both the Mail and the Tribune were publishing dailies. Both had started in 1906, the Mail issuing in the morning and the Tribune in the afternoon.
Under Editor Charles the Southern Oregonian, a four-page seven-column semi-weekly (Wednesday and Saturday), told its readers in its first week (April 5, 1902) that "advertisements would be inserted at reasonable rates" The twice-a-week was sold to subscribers at $1.50 a year or $1 for six months.
The paper advertised its telegraphic news as "the latest. Twenty hours ahead of the Portland and 25 hours ahead of the San Francisco papers.
An editorial urged the setting apart of Crater lake as a national park; another urged a state appropriation to help the historical society, the Native Sons, Native Daughters, and Pioneers' association in preserving early historical data and materials. An issue a little later (May 17) was one of the first school editions, prepared by school children, in the history of Oregon. "The Southern Oregonian," said an editorial, "concerned itself only with the mechanical part of the edition—all the rest was handled by the school children." The profits, $60, went to buy uniforms for the high school band. Twenty-five hundred copies were printed.
So we have George Putnam in Medford in 1907 succeeding A. F. Moore as editor of the Tribune, taking a look at the way things were going and not entirely pleased with the way public affairs were handled. He said so, from time to time, in a way that made him plenty of powerful enemies, a lot of friends, and sometimes effected the desired results.
First, he didn't like the only kind of water the people of Medford had available to drink. He declared, in an issue of the Tribune in December, 1907, (which drew comment from the Ashland Tidings of December 30) that "the water from Bear creek is so muddy that it is clogging the meters, prompting the inquiry, 'Was there any water ever made dirtier than that now being pumped into the city mains?" Putnam ended his editorial with the statement that "it is a serious question whether to sell such stuff as water is not a violation of the pure food law, as well as obtaining money under false pretenses." This was only one of a number of editorials on the subject. Results came in time. Today the Medford water supply is famous for its clear coldness.
Then one day in 1907 there occurred what has been called by other paper the "famous Barnum-Reddy fight." Putnam in the Tribune accused W. S. Barnum, president of the Rogue River Valley railroad, of attacking Mayor J. F. Reddy of Medford with an axe. Mr. Putnam, who was an eye-witness of the incident, was (37) the "sole witness for Mayor Reddy in his effort to have the Rogue River Valley Railroad president indicted for assault, the preponderance of evidence before the jury, however, being to the effect that Barnum was not guilty of assault as charged by the mayor and editor. While the matter was still pending before jury and court the Medford editor published an article in severe criticism of the jury and prosecuting officials" .. . He was indicted by the grand jury, and Judge Hanna issued a bench warrant for his arrest.
"Near midnight of December 21," said the Southern Oregonian of February 5, 1908, "while the editor of this paper (Putnam, also editor of the Tribune) was speeding north to spend the Christmas holidays, he was pulled from a berth in a Pullman sleeper at Roseburg, denied communication with friends, and thrown into the Douglas county jail to remain until noon of the next day, because of the alleged libel of Deputy District Attorney Clarence J. Reames and the Jackson county grand jury in a criticism of their action in exonerating President W. S. Barnum of the Rogue River railway, who made a murderous assault upon Mayor J. F. Reddy with an ax.
Following this, the editor exposed the conditions of the Douglas county jail, which was later declared unfit for habitation.
The editor was returned to Jacksonville, tried, and convicted, in a trial whose conduct brought criticism not only from the editor's own paper but from the Portland Oregonian.
"Judge Hanna's ruling yesterday," said the Tribune of January 1908, in the course of the trial, "practically shut out all material evidence for the defendant, by denying him the statutory right to prove the truth of his alleged libelous article, after he had testified as to the proper motive for publication." One of the witnesses for Putnam was Oswald West, then railroad commissioner, later governor.
To make a long story short, the supreme court of the state of Oregon came to the rescue of Putnam, who, incidentally, had the story in his own paper covered colorlessly, with all subjective description studiously avoided. The record of the case in the Jackson county courthouse shows the following summary:
21 December 1907—True bill for libel.
11 January 1908—Found guilty and fined $150.
1 February, 1909—Supreme court finds error in trial as alleged; judgment of lower court in all things reversed and set aside and new trial awarded to the appellant.
14 April 1909—Circuit court allows Putnam $45 for his court costs.
24 January 1910—Case dismissed for want of prosecution; further ordered defendant and his bond be exonerated.
This was a complete vindication of Putnam's conduct as an editor. As long as he remained in Medford, about eleven more years from the date of his trial, he continued to criticise freely whenever he thought public interest demanded.
When the Daily Tribune entered its fourth year (March 20, 1909), just a few weeks before the consolidation of the Mail and the Tribune as the Mail Tribune, Editor Putnam said, in a double-column leading editorial of several hundred words:
The paper had 13 columns of advertising out of a total of 28 columns of space that day—a percentage which usually means a profitable paper.
The paper that has no enemies has no friends. . . The Tribune has critics—but "to escape criticism, say nothing, do nothing, be nothing," and the Tribune has something to say, something to do, and intends always to be vital force in the life of the community. It has the courage of its convictions.
A bitter personal fight has been made against the Tribune because it printed the truth. It has fought anew the battle for the freedom of the press. It has been boycotted because its policy could not be controlled. Its editor has been thrown in jail, unjustly convicted and fined, slugged on the streets, and denied justice by two grand juries. . . But having established the justice of its cause, The Tribune, with charity for all, bears malice toward none.
There was no change of policy during the Putnam direction of the paper—though old-timers say they think the rather less volatile George Putnam of today could have accomplished as much with less explosion as in the old days of storm and stress.
George Putnam left Medford in 1919 to take over the Capital Journal in Salem, which he is still publishing today. In a final editorial, April 1, 1919, he took only 250 words to say good-bye, announcing his retirement as president of the Medford Printing Company and editor of the Mail Tribune,
having sold my interests to my associates, Messrs. Ruhl and Smith of the Medford Sun. For eleven and one-half years it has been my pleasure to daily tell the current story of the Rogue river valley . . . and to have been a vital factor in community development.
During all these years . . . years of boom, years of slump and years of recuperation . . . the Mail Tribune has been aggressively on the firing-line for progress—social, industrial and political—or endeavors to be.
An indulgent public has apparently become convinced of my sincerity—for I have not been jailed or assaulted for a long time. Its toleration . . . has earned it a respite—or some would say—a surcease of evil.
The new editor of the Mail Tribune, Robert W. Ruhl, had come to Medford in 1911 and bought a substantial interest in both the weekly Sun and the daily Mail Tribune. He conducted the Sun in a way that attracted attention to the soundness and the cleverness of the paper. An Illinois native, he had been graduated at Harvard. One of his classmates there and a fellow-member of the Harvard Crimson staff was Franklin D. Roosevelt. Early newspaper experience, after the Crimson, was gained in 1904-06 on the New York Globe and Commercial Advertiser. In 1907-09 he was on the editorial staff of the Republican in his native town of Rockford. Two years on the Spokane Spokesman-Review staff, and he was ready to step out for himself. He chose Medford and bought into both papers there.
In his unsigned salutatory April 2, 1919, Mr. Ruhl, speaking for himself and Mr. Smith, said, in part:
This was published, it was said, in response to
In short, to be as brief and painless as possible, this paper is to be independent, as a reading of the title to the left indicates. Not independent in a non-partisan sense, but independent in a literal and perfectly sincere sense. Shocking, we know. but true, quite true.
a number of requests . . . that this paper state its policy. . . When it comes to pledging this paper to one political organization, we confess we are somewhat at sea with neither sail nor compass. In fact, we can discern no political land in sight. Not only do the political eggs seem hopelessly scrambled, but the entire political atmosphere appears in such a state of fluxional obfuscation as to render any immediate homage entirely impossible.
Reference was made to the jangling elements in each of the political parties—Wilson and Champ Clark, Taft and Senator Poindexter.
As soon as the fog lifts, and we can see what the parties are and what they stand for, we are going to back the one we like best and run on high till the end of the campaign. . . . In fact,—and here comes another shameful confession—this paper is to be much more concerned with news, and the advancement of the material welfare of this section of the state than it is with who sits in the White House, or the political complexion of the master game warden.
This independent policy, it seems, has, in the main, been followed through the years. As a political attitude, it is far from being as strange doctrine now as it was about twenty years ago.
The most conspicuous achievement—though Mr. Ruhl himself does not regard it as anything but his duty as an editor—of the Mail Tribune came in connection with the Banks tragedy of 1933, when the sane, courageous fight of the newspaper on a violent group of politicians that flouted law and order in the town won it the Pulitzer prize.
The Medford Daily News, publication of which played a part in the downfall of Llewellyn A. Banks, former wealthy California orchardist, was the outgrowth of several Medford papers.
The Medford Clarion, weekly, Friday, was founded in 1920 by W. E. Phipps, built up a good circulation, claiming as high as 2500 in 1923. In 1924 it became the Jackson County News, with Lee B. Tuttle editor. The paper became the Daily News October 19, 1926, with Mr. Tuttle still in editorial control and continuing a moderately liberal editorial policy. Dan Bowerman was news editor. The paper was never very prosperous, and in 1929 it was purchased by Banks, who had extensive Jackson county interests as well as his California properties. Banks had some ideas, but a certain lack of balance was apparent from the beginning. He was antagonistic and suspicious. His news staff was kept jittery. He opposed important interests in Medford and was soon in trouble.
One day early in his newspaper career he called in his business manager and asked him how much it would cost him to run the paper if he had no advertising and no paid subscribers. The manager disliked to contemplate such a situation but gave him the figures. Banks replied that he could easily handle that situation for an indefinite period.
Reverses came, and Banks was to discover that nothing loses faster than a losing newspaper. Soon the paper was on the financial rocks, and the worse the finances, the wider became Banks' field of enemies, real and imaginary. He backed a "good government league" to fight for civic reforms in Medford—which sounds reasonable enough, but Banks' zeal was fanatic and his personal contacts were violent. What he might have accomplished with better balance and a less violently emotional set, it is hard to say. But the net result of two years of his activities in Medford was a community divided sharply against itself and a very unhappy, dangerous atmosphere.
Finally his affairs fell into chaos. He lost his paper for debt. Crushed by his troubles and goaded by some of his enemies, he shot and killed (March 16, 1933) a peace officer who had come to arrest him in connection with a theft of some ballots in an election. He was convicted of second-degree murder at a trial held in Eugene and is now serving a life sentence in the state penitentiary.
Meanwhile a rational editor was achieving recognition for his steadfact work in striving to hold the community together. For a "campaign against unscrupulous politicians in Jackson County" the Pulitzer prize, a $500 gold medal, was awarded the Mail Tribune, edited by Robert W. Ruhl.
Reorganization of the Medford News after the Banks fiasco resulted in the purchase of the paper by Moore Hamilton, who is conducting a constructive Friday weekly from the plant which a few years ago was the center of community chaos.
Meanwhile Earl H. Fehl, politically minded, had taken over the Pacific Record-Herald, descendant of an old Jackson county newspaper, and was playing a game roughly parallel to that of Banks. Fehl, elected county judge, became involved in the ballot trouble and was sent to the state hospital at Salem. He was released later on condition that he stay away from the scene of his troubles, Jackson county. His wife conducted the paper for a time but finally gave it up.
An interesting Medford publication which ran along from 1909 to 1912 was the Saturday Review, published by M. E. Worrell. The paper expressed itself as devoted to society, real estate, markets, local markets, domestic science, women's clubs, higher life, books and magazines, music and the drama, the week's events. The paper sold for $1.50 a year and advertising at 25 cents an inch.
Medford newspapers have normally had strong staffs through the years. One of those who has received the largest measure of notice is Arthur Perry, city editor and columnist on the Mail Tribune. His "Smudge Pot" column received the highest praise in Alfred Powers' History of Oregon Literature, and Edson Marshall, novelist, former Medford resident, is quoted as saying that Perry, popular though he is at Medford, where he has done newspaper work for more than twenty years, is much greater than his home folks have any idea.
S. Sumpter Smith, former business manager of the Mail Tribune, died November 5, 1935, at the age of 65 after a long and honorable career in newspaper work. E. R. Gilstrap, formerly of Eugene, is the present manager of the paper.
Jacksonville.—This little town was the metropolis of southern Oregon when statehood came, and it held its position for a good many years. We have noted (39) the beginning of the Table Rock Sentinel in 1855, when W. G. T'Vault, Oregon's first editor, whose grandson, Thomas G. Kenney, is a resident of Medford, added another first to his list by becoming the first editor in Jackson county. Just before statehood the name of the Sentinel was changed to Oregon Sentinel, which it retained to the last days, when the rise of Medford and the decline of Jacksonville brought about the death of the historic old paper.
In October 1859 the paper passed into the hands of O'Meara and Treanor. Treanor retired in less than a year, and O'Meara abandoned the paper in May 1861 (40). The paper had been consistently Democratic, intensely so, up to this point, resulting in boycott by the loyal Unionists.
Just before abandoning the Sentinel O'Meara had published an editorial deprecating the possibility of the extension of the war to the Pacific Coast.
Let us not so shape events (he wrote Saturday, May 4) that the emigrant shall but escape war at the East and find it in their new sought homes in the farthest West. We should all forget our past political and other differences; for get that we ever disputed or quarreled, sink the past and prepare ourselves, no matter how the issue Eastward may result, to be in fact a compact, united, harmonious people forevermore.
This was not exactly calculated to stimulate support for the Union forces who were rushing to the colors just about then.
Nearly three columns of his first page in the same issue was devoted to full quotation of a speech made April 2, 1861, by John C. Breckenridge in the Kentucky house of representatives suggesting secession.
These items may have been something to do with hastening O'Meara's departure from the paper.
A change came with the acquisition of the Sentinel by Henry Denlinger and W. M. Hand, printers, in 1861, and it was never again a Democratic partisan—usually, in fact, strongly Republican. Hand left within the year to volunteer in the Union army, and Denlinger carried on the paper until July 1864. His editor was young Orange Jacobs, a strong Union mam who expressed his sen timents strongly in the paper. His two years and a half on the Sentinel, which he left in July 1864, were characterized by brilliant writing not only in his editorials but through the body of the paper. He became a lawyer, and in 1867 went to Washington territory, where he became eminent in the law and rose to be a justice of the territorial supreme court.
T'Vault, founder of the Sentinel, let his pro-Southern feelings overcome his normal American patriotism in Civil war times. The following exchange, taken from the Jacksonville Democratic Times and the Oregon Sentinel indicates his feeling for the Pacific Republican plan which had loyal Union men of the West worried at this time. T'Vault, who had started the Sentinel and had seen it drift from pro-secession clear to extreme Republican in a few years, had written the Portland Times as follows:
Lewiston, July 7th, 1862.
Editor Times:—I see in the daily issue of the 2d inst. of your paper, the obituary notice and coroner's inquest, held over a dead body found at Portland, from which you say it "leaves but little doubt that the dead body was that of Col. T'Vault." As to my obituary, I am thankful for your references. But few men live to read what is said of them, after death; however, I assure you that I am still alive, and expect to live to occupy a high and honorable position in the Pacific Republic.
The Colonel had, more or less, "asked for it," and here is how Orange Jacobs landed on his exposed chin:
By request (Jacobs commented in the Oregon Sentinel) we copy the above from the Portland Times. Well, Colonel, we are glad to learn that you are still alive. You may live to occupy a high position in a Pacific Republic, but we have serious doubts about its honorable nature. We don't believe you will ever occupy either.
July 9, 1862.
The Sentinel's next owner was B. F. Dowell, who published the paper from 1864 to 1878, using the following editors in succession: J. M Sutton, D. M. C. Gault, William M. Turner, E. B. Watson, Harrison Kellay, and Ed F. Lewis. Frank Krause chased the paper from Dowell in 1878 and had Turner with him as editor from 1880 to 1882.
The Sentinel in those days of more than half a century ago (1883) was a seven-column, four-page paper issued Saturdays at $3 a year. There were five columns of advertising on the left side of the first page in the issue of October 13, 1883, and the other two columns, with a runover, were filled with an interesting list of "Our Heaviest Taxpayers." There were 350 of them who paid on a valuation of more than $2,000. At the top was C. E. Tilton, valuation $25,000, and next H. F. Baum with $23,900, then G. Karewski $22,455.
Page 2 was filled with editorial and miscellany, two columns, and advertising, five columns. G. Karewski, just mentioned, had a big display ad topped with black type an inch deep: "Attention Everybody! Stoves, Agricultural Implements."
Page 3 had six columns of locals and personals, with no head lines, and a column of advertising. Page 4. six and a half columns of advertising and the rest miscellaneous matter. The paper's format changed from time to time. For instance, under D. M. C. Gault, in 1868, there were six wide (2½-inch) columns.
Krause was still editor through 1886. The next publishers were Will Jackson and J. W. Merritt, then M. Langell in 1887. The paper was sold to Charles Nickell March 16, 1888, and suspended, leaving the shrinking field to the Democratic Jacksonville Times.
Another Sentinel appeared in 1902, with Charles Meserve editor. It was discontinued in 1906.
In 1857 Beggs & Burns had started the Jacksonville Herald, a short-lived paper (40). In the records of Jackson county is a bill of sale from William J. Beggs to W. G. T'Vault covering the plant of the Herald. The items listed will give an accurate idea of what the well-equipped newspaper had to have in its back shop in 1858. The plant was used in August 14, 1861, by O'Meara & Pomeroy to start the Southern Oregon Gazette. This paper was so intensely Democratic under O'Meara that in a few months it was barred from the mails.
Following is the list of material sold by Beggs and Burns:
One Imperial No. 3 Wash, press, one rolling frame and apparatus, and roller and roller mold, 2 double chases, 1 pair of cases, 5 job chases, 1 job hand roller frame, 1 cabinet galley with slides, 1 small cabinet for cases, 17 pairs of cases, 1 bookcase, 1 stove and pipe, 1 bank and 1 table, 4 double stands, 1 slice galley, 4 brass proof galleys, 4 wood galleys, 1 wooden job stick, 1 iron job-stick, 3 composing-sticks, part of a keg of news ink, part of a keg of book ink, 2 small cans of red ink, 1 lead-cutter, 2 chairs, 2 stools, 1 large font of Bourgeoise about 300 pounds, 1 large font of Brevier, about 300 pounds, 8 fonts of English, 3 varieties of border, 6 fonts job type, metal, 25 pounds more or less of display type for paper, lead advertising rules, cuts, etc., paper boards, wriglets, brass and wood rules, sponge, proof brush, lye brush, planer mallet, basket, bucket, dipper, wash-pan, boiler and kettle for rollers, wrench, screw-driver, saw, miter box, a lot of blank deeds, notes of hand cards, envelopes, note paper, bill paper, wrapping paper, pens, and six printer's candlesticks, and everything else appertaining to the office of the newspaper lately known as the Jacksonville Herald. Consideration $1400.
In May 1862 the Civilian was started to take the place of the Gazette. D. William Douthitt was publisher. The paper, less violent than the Gazette, was strongly enough Democratic to be rather unpopular with a large element of the population, and the end came in a few months.
Mr. T'Vault, who seems to have owned the plant, having purchased it when the Herald failed, now started the Intelligencer, but it died late in 1864. This was T' Vault's last Oregon newspaper. He died of small-pox in Jacksonville in 1869.
In January 1865 P. J. Malone, formerly of Portland, Albany, and Corvallis, started the Oregon Reporter; but he retired at the end of the first volume, having failed to make an impression. He was succeeded by Frank R. Stuart, who remained until 1867, when Stuart and Pidler (W. W.) changed the name to the Southern Oregon Press. A few months, and this venture too had failed, and the plant was used to start the Reveille in July 1868 for the Democratic committee. It soon died from malnutrition. Voluntary contributions from politicians were insufficient for its needs.
The next year P. D. Hull and Charles Nickell started the Democratic News to take the place of the Reveille. The plant was destroyed by fire in 1871, and Nickell launched the Democratic Times to look after Democracy's needs in Jacksonville. This paper went right on down to the twentieth century, conducted most of the time by Nickell himself, until its consolidation with the Southern Oregonian about 30 years ago. Nickell was a prominent and popular figure in southern Oregon and active in the state editorial association, but his fame was in eclipse before the end. Most of the time his paper was a weekly, issued, at various times, on almost every day in the week. Beginning in 1895 it ran for a time as semi-weekly, Monday and Thursday.
The present Jacksonville paper is the weekly Post, issued on Friday, with occasional lapses, since 1906, when it was founded by J. B. Barnes. S. P. Shutt, D. W. Bagshaw, Blanche Johnstone Cook, W. T. Bray, C. J. Shorb, R. E. Blankenberg, have been among the several editors. The present publisher is Wallace Iverson.
One of the type cases of the Jacksonville Times, which became part of the equipment of the Southern Oregonian, then of the Tribune and the Mail Tribune, had come from the old Table Rock Sentinel, which took over the equipment of the defunct Umpqua Gazette of Scottsburg in 1855. Bullet-marks on it indicated it had been used, very likely, as an improvised breastwork against the Indians in the fighting of that period.
Gold Hill.—This little Jackson county town is known chiefly as the place where the Lampmans, Ben Hur and Rex, got their journalistic start. It was on the Gold Hill News that Ben Lampman attracted the attention of the Oregonian by his nature paragraphs, poems, and general writing ability—and he left Gold Hill for Portland in 1916—to remain. Rex Lampman, another Gold Hill News man, worked on many newspapers, large and small, all over the country, doing editorial, features, columns, whatever was needed, until overtaken by ill health in the last few years.
But the News, established in 1897 by E. K. Churchill, was not Gold Hill's first paper. E. Everett Phipps had established the weekly Miner there in 1895. This was a four-page, seven-column paper, with two columns of ads on the front page. The subscription price was $1.50 a year. In the 1896 campaign it carried the People's Party (Populist) ticket at its masthead, including E. E. Phipps for county superintendent of schools. After a year or so he moved the paper to Medford and combined it with the Monitor as the Monitor-Miner.
The Lampman regime at Gold Hill was followed by that of Howard E. Wharton. He was followed, in turn, by C. J. Shorb, who added the News to his chain of small papers. Then came R. E. Blankenberg, who took over the Shorb chain, and the current editor is Wallace G. Iverson. Early editors, before the Lampmans, were John Conger, Charles Bros., F. W. Sears, John Hammersley, Lynn Purdin, Harry Murray.
Central Point.—S. A. Pattison, later of Condon and Heppner, founded Central Point's first paper, the Central Point Herald, a Thursday weekly, in 1906. It was an independent paper, four pages, five columns. The town's population was 322. Mr. Pattison ran the paper for several years.
After a hiatus of a good many years, an epidemic of journalism broke out in Central Point in 1928, when both the American, a Friday weekly, started by John B. Sheley, and the Star, a member of the C. J. Shorb chain, entered the restricted field. The Star withdrew in 1930. Ellis C. Gait edited the American that year. The present editor, A. E. Powell, old-time printer and editor, has been connected with the American for several years.
Rogue River. —This tiny little town in Jackson county also had its newspaper—at least one. C. J. Shorb tried it as a member of his chain of southern Oregon country papers in 1926; but the place was too small, and the paper died the same year. More recently the town is covered in a local way by the Rogue Record, combined town and school weekly mimeographed publication, under the direction of Miss Nell Perrine. The paper is now (1939) in its sixth year.
Ashland.—The Ashland Tidings, now more than 63 years old, was Ashland's first newspaper. The town had 500 population in 1876, when its journalism was born. The first issue of the Tidings, then, of course, a weekly, came off the press June 17, 1876. J. M. Sutton was the first editor, publisher, and owner.
The advent of the newspaper was a great event and so recognized, and there was a grand scramble for the first number to come off the old Washington hand-press. Welborn Beeson, who had hauled the press from Roseburg, a distance of 125 miles, had been promised the first copy, but C. B. Watson, who two years later was to establish the first newspaper in Lake county (41). and Clark Taylor got the first and second copies, as it happened.
The health of the first editor soon failed, and after a few issues J. M. McCall & Co., Ashland merchants, took over the paper. Capt. O. C. Applegate was the next publisher, taking hold in 1878, in time to get his name into Pettengill's 1878 newspaper directory.
William Leeds and Corliss Merritt purchased the paper in 1879. Mr. Merritt soon sold out to Mr. Leeds, who conducted the paper for many years, starting a semi-weekly in 1892. He became state printer in 1894, serving for eight years, and died in southern California in 1921.
Another long-time publisher of the Tidings was F. D. Wagner, who had been "roller boy" on the paper in 1881 and had grown up with the plant. He was taken in by Mr. Leeds as partner and active manager in 1894, when Leeds took over the duties of state printer. He soon purchased the Leeds interest and continued as editor and publisher until 1911. R. B. Bennett and F. M. Bennett, later of Hood River and The Dalles, conducted the paper through 1911 and 1912, when Bert R. Greer purchased it.
The first linotype was installed in 1908 by Mr. Wagner, who ran the paper as a semi-weekly. The Daily Tidings dates from September 1, 1919, under the ownership of Mr. Greer, who conducted the paper until his death in 1927.
The Tidings was then taken over by the Ashland Printing Company, with C. J. Read editor and manager. In 1928 Mr. Read was succeeded as editor and manager by G. M. Green, who has continued direction of the paper.
The best Publisher Sutton could do in his first issue was two with the other two pages of local news, editorial, and advertising, pages "patent" ready-print. The equipment consisted of the old press, in at the birth of almost all the pioneer papers; a few fonts of type, and a hand-inking job press. In his opening editorial Mr. Sutton said: "Believing that there is ample room in southern Oregon for a good independent family newspaper, we have resolved to make our effort to establish such a one." The paper continued independent in politics until the late eighties, when, following the suspension of the old Jacksonville Sentinel, it became a Republican organ.
The Tidings has not been without competitors through the years. E. J. Kaiser, well-known southern Oregon newspaper man, started the Valley Record as a Thursday weekly in 1888 while Mr. Leeds was publishing the Tidings. This newspaper ran under Mr. Kaiser's direction until 1912, when he became postmaster at Ashland and Charles B. Wolf took hold of the paper. Mr. Wolf dropped the Valley from the title on taking control. The paper was suspended in 1919 by W. M. Barber, who had succeeded Mr. Wolf as owner. Mr. Kaiser was back in control during 191 7, on retiring from the postmastership.
The Tribune, founded in 1896 as a weekly, ran along, part of the time as a Wednesday-Saturday semi-weekly, until 1906. A. C. Jacobsen and J. M. Potter, successively, were editors.
Town Talk, a weekly, started in 1896 and suspended in 1902, had for one of its publishers George C. Stanley, who later became interested in mining and merchandising.