History of Oregon Newspapers/Jefferson County

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Madras.—The Madras Pioneer, first paper in the town and in Jefferson county, was born in a tent.

Timothy Brownhill, Oregon newspaper veteran, has the honor of bringing the paper into the journalistic world as publisher August 25, 1904. Having bought the plant from John Cradlebaugh, editor of The Dalles Mountaineer, Mr. Brownhill hauled his outfit by team to Madras, a distance of 75 miles—which was a lot farther then than it is now.[1]

The first plant consisted of an old Washington hand-press and a nondescript collection of type with sufficient other equipment to get out a six-column folio.

The tent had to suffice for quarters until a more substantial home could be obtained. Here the paper was set up by Bill Rutter, a tramp printer enlisted for the work in The Dalles.

After about a year Mr. Brownhill sold the paper to Max Lueddemann, young southerner who had started the Bend Bulletin in 1903. Homestead legal notices and new railroad development had attracted Mr. Lueddemann to the spot, as they had Mr. Brownhill. After about three years the paper was purchased by Howard W. Turner, who continued as publisher until 1915. Mr. Turner's first printer was Sidney Percival, who also helped William Holder at Paisley. Mr. Percival later became county clerk of Jefferson county. Mr. Turner is now a Madras banker.

The next owner (1915) was Vine W. Pearce, of McMinnville, who, with his two sons, George and Lot, both of them practical printers, conducted the Pioneer until 1919.

In that year he sold the paper to William E. Johnson, who conducted it a little more than a year and then sold to George Pearce. In 1923, after three years as cashier of the First National Bank, Mr. Johnson again took over the Pioneer, this time on lease from Vine W. Pearce, and published it until his death, December 31, 1924. On January 1 his widow, who before her marriage had been a high school teacher, began publication of the paper, continuing under lease until the summer of 1925, when she purchased the property.

In 1929 Mrs. Johnson moved the paper into new quarters in a one-story hollow-tile building, space in which is shared with the Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Company and the Pacific Power and Light Company. For five years of the period of Mrs. Johnson's ownership the mechanical work was handled by W. B. Russell. May 31. 1933, Mrs. Johnson retired from active charge of the paper, and was succeeded as editor by her daughter, now Mrs. Betty J. Welker. The next day Mrs. Johnson began her new work as acting postmaster of Madras, receiving the appointment as postmaster May 31, 1934.

February 4, 1935, Mrs. Johnson was married to A. R. Bowen, for the previous ten years representative of the Mergenthaler Linotype Company in the Northwest. Mr. Bowen took active charge of the Pioneer, giving part time to its operation and employing J. R. Blakely, former Eugene and Portland printer, as local manager. Mrs. Johnson-Bowen resumed personal charge of the paper two years later.

The biggest news event in the history of the Pioneer, and aside from the death of the publisher the most tragic, was the fire which swept Madras in September 1924. The entire business district was wiped out, only two or three buildings escaping. One of these, how ever, was the home of the Pioneer.

Mrs. Johnson's experience at Madras is an example of what women publishers sometimes have to contend with. "A printer . . . refused to cooperate," she reports. "He would not take orders from a ——— woman. I promptly discharged him and telephoned to Hal Hoss, then secretary of the Oregon Editorial Association, and asked if he could send me a printer. In the phone conversation he asked me what model the linotype was, and I did not even know that much. Anyway he sent me a printer, a Mr. Foster, who was a very good man."

Culver.—Several capable publishers gave this Jefferson county town of 1OO or so population a faithful effort but were unable to get a publication really rooted. The experiments continued close to ten years; and contrary to the record in many other places, there was no change of name; it was the Deschutes Valley Tribune from its cradle to the end. P. A. Chandler and O. C. Young were the first editors and publishers. The year was 191 1. They charged their subscribers $1.25 a year for an independent eight-page newspaper 13×20, issued on Thursdays. The next year the circulation manager (may the Lord have mercy on his soul!) certified to 570 circulation. In 1916 Chandler let Young have the paper, and he showed the real quality of his imagination by estimating the circulation at 740. The next year M. C. Athey, later of Portland, did the editing and publishing; and the year after, with the population down to 95, P. A. Chandler came back. He suspended the paper in 1919 after estimating that his circulation had gone down to 375. The day of high circulations—and newspapers—in Culver was over.

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