History of Oregon Newspapers/Lane County
Cottage Grove.—In less than half a century Cottage Grove has had a long succession of newspapers, editors and publishers, and many of the men engaged in Cottage Grove journalism have since become active and prominent on other publications and in other lines of work. The one man who spent the most time, did the most work, became the best known as the Cottage Grove editor, and has sup plied most of the information herein contained about the journalism of the community since the beginning, is Elbert Bede, editor of the paper for 25 years.
Cottage Grove's first newspaper, the Leader, was not printed in Cottage Grove but in Drain, 18 miles south, a much livelier town at that time. The first paper came off the press at Drain July 15, 1889. The editor was E. P. Thorp, who was at that time publishing the Drain Echo, established four years before.
On October 12 of the same year the Leader started publication in its home town. F. W. Chausse, later a member of the Portland printing firm of Chausse-Prudhomme, Portland, was the editor and publisher. Mr. Thorp continued with the Echo at Drain, but in 1895 came to Cottage Grove, bought out Mr. Chausse, and continued the Drain and Cottage Grove papers as the Echo-Leader.
A number of years ago, while equipment was being replaced in the office of the Sentinel, a much later newspaper, an old case was discarded. On the reverse side was found this legend: "E. P. Thorp, Drain, Ore. C.O.D. $5735." That figure probably represented a large payment on the first newspaper plant that figures in the history of Cottage Grove journalism. The equipment included an army press. In the possession of the Sentinel is an old tombstone that shows signs of having done service as an imposing stone. A figure chiseled upside down in the inscription is believed to account for the discarding of the stone for cemetery memorial purposes. Years ago when an old building was razed, this stone and other items were found inside the walls. The building had once housed the Leaden and the stone evidently had been walled inside while the building was so occupied. Among the items inside the walls were some old iron quoins, patterned after the old wooden quoins for form-locking. They had to be driven into place with a "shooting-stick."
In February, 1897, Mr. Thorp dropped dead while on his way to the office, and the paper was taken over by L. F. Wooley, son of a pioneer preacher, who changed the title back to the Leader. Mr. Wooley died in Eugene within recent years. C. W. Wallace, an other pioneer minister's son, became editor and publisher four years later, running an "independent Democratic" newspaper. Mr. Wallace was later in the mercantile business in Cottage Grove and is now living in Sunnydale, Washington.
There are at least three names still on the Sentinel's subscription list that have been there since the regime of Wooley and Wallace.
W. C. Conner, later for many years editor of the Northwest Poultry Journal at Salem, took over the Leader in 1903. He had been an apprentice under Mr. Chausse and was sent by Mr. Thorp to Riddle to establish a paper there (45).
Mr. Conner sold to A. Clifford Gage, later publisher of the Angora Journal and the Portland Spectator, June 17, 1904. In December of the same year Mr. Gage sold to a corporation made up of Herbert Eakin, banker; O. O. Veatch, merchant; F. J. Hard, mining promoter, and Frank Rosenburg, secretary of the commercial club. The paper became a Tuesday-Friday semi-weekly in 1905 under the title Lane County Leader.
Horace Mann had established the Messenger, a Friday weekly, in 1897. Two years later he sold to C. J. Howard, who changed the name to the Bohemia Nugget. Starting as "Independent," it became Republican the next year (according to announcement in Ayer's Directory). Mr. Hard, manager of the Leader, was at the same time owner of the Nugget—a fact not publicly known. Mr. Howard is living at Dorena, a short distance from Cottage Grove, serving as postmaster. From now on editors and publishers came and went fast.
July 18, 1901, T. H. Supple of Portland became associated with Howard but sold his interest back the next February, and April 18, 1902, Lee Henry took an interest with Howard. In the next August Henry bought Howard out, but in November Howard again took over the paper. January 2, 1903, Rev. Barton C. V. Brown became associated with Howard. As late as April 8, 1929, a news item told of Mr. Brown's opening a meeting of Death Valley pioneers at Stovepipe Wells, Death Valley, California. November 27, 1903, A. P. Bettersworth appeared as sole owner, although the paper actually was owned by C. J. Hurd. Bettersworth lasted only a few weeks, when he was succeeded by Col. Warner A. Root. Elbert Bede observes that the early papers in the town were strong for colonels and preachers. The Bohemia Nugget Publishing Company was mastheaded as the publisher.
J. McKean Fisher was editor of the Nugget during 1906, and W. C. Conner and Joe DuBruille were publishers of the Leader in 1907. The two papers were consolidated late in 1907, when Conner and DuBruille bought the Nugget and let the name die.
In 1905, having disposed of his interest in the Leader to Mr. Hard, C. J. Howard established a paper known as the Western Oregon. D. M. C. Gault, veteran publisher, now deceased, who also served a term as Cottage Grove postmaster, was editor of the paper in 1907, with Howard as manager. March 19, 1908, Mr. Howard became sole owner. July 31 of the same year D. W. and I. S. Bath became the owners. I. S. Bath later became a publisher at Goldendale, Washington.
It was Lew A. Cates, old-time Oregon newspaper man and owner at one time or another of several Oregon newspapers, who named the Sentinel, legatee and survivor of a long chain of papers. He bought the Western Oregon October 1, 1909, and changed the name to the Sentinel.
September 1, 1911, Elbert Bede, who had come from Minnesota, where he had had his journalistic baptism as printer and publisher, purchased the Sentinel, retaining his interest until 1936. He soon took as a partner J. W. Grant, who is now a publisher at Barron, Wisconsin.
Meanwhile the Leader was running along. At almost the moment when Mr. Bede bought the Sentinel Dean & Dryden purchased the Leader from W. C. Conner and a year later sold it to Bede & Grant, giving them an exclusive field.
Mr. Conner revived the defunct Leader in June, 1913. The Sentinel owners had discontinued use of the name as part of their title. February 18, 1914, J. D. Quillen purchased the Leader, but a short time later Conner was again owner. He sold the paper to W. H. Tyrrell of Iowa, June 2, 1915.
Bede now bought the interest of Grant in the Sentinel, and a short time later he and Tyrell formed a partnership, combining the Sentinel and the Leader. Bede had now purchased a Leader twice. Since then the Sentinel has held the field. Soon Bede became the sole owner. April 3, 1918, Elbert Smith became associated with Bede, and the partnership continued for several years, Mr. Smith, who had been appointed postmaster of Cottage Grove, became inactive on the paper. In 1936 the paper was sold to Judge Leonard S. Goddard, who had not long before retired from the supreme bench of the Philippine islands, and A. W. Shofstall, mechanical superintendent of the Sentinel. Mr. Goddard had gone to the islands with the American troops at the time of the Filipino insurrection, remained there to practice law, and was appointed to the judiciary of the islands. Since the fall of 1938 W. C. Martin has been publisher. Judge Goddard moved to California.
During the year the Leader was owned by Dean & Dryden, D. H. Talmadge, Salen philosopher, veteran editor and columnist, was editor for a time.
A Prohibition paper named the Cottage Grove Moderator, established in 1889, was listed in Ayer's Directory as having run for several years and achieved by 1896 a circulation of 700. H. W. Ross was listed as editor in the 1897 Ayer's.
Junction City.—Junction City's early journalism is shrouded in more or less haze. But there is no question that the Times, launched in 1891, had two predecessors. The first of these, listed in Ayer's Newspaper Directory for 1880, was the Republican, a weekly started (says Ayer's) in 1878 as a Republican paper, issued on Wednesdays. The founder was O. T. Porter, who also was the founder of the Harrisburg Nucleus in 1876. The Republican was a four-page paper, 21×28, and the subscription price was $2.50. The next year the publishers were Porter & Parker.
The next paper, following several years after the demise of the Republican, was the Junction City Pilot, established in 1888 as a Democratic weekly, issued on Fridays, by J. M. McCollum. In 1890 the paper was conducted by J. B. Morin and Ira Phelps. The next year the paper was suspended when Morin went to Harrisburg and started the Courier.This left the promising field open, and it was soon occupied by the Times, founded by S. L. Moorhead. Morin paid the following tribute to Junction in announcing, through the Harrisburg Courier, the approaching advent of the Times:'
The Junction City Times will appear next week. The field in which the Times will work is a good one, and though we abandoned it only a few weeks ago, the reason is not that we loved Junction less, but because we love our present location more.
But—Mr. Morin and his Courier were gone from Harrisburg in three years, while Mr. Moorhead carried on the Times for about 23 years.
Mr. Moorhead's salutatory on going to Junction from Eugene and bringing out the first issue October 10, 1891, was, in a modest way, rather a model for that type of article. It read:
The Times greets you brightly and cheerily, and we trust it will as responsive a throb from the hearts of the people with whom we are associated. Its mission will be to assist every enterprise that will tend to the upbuilding of city and community, and while we can do but little ourself, we will be found in the procession of progress battling for the interests of all.
The Times will eschew politics and pursue an independent course. We may have occasion to make mention of certain nominees when the time arrives, but each deviation will be in the interest of this part of the county . . .
We want the assistance and hearty cooperation of every citizen, irrespective of party affiliation. . . . We have an abiding faith in this little city, and we are here to stay. While we cannot please all, we will aim to do what is just and right between man and man.
A prospectus carried in another column declared the paper to be "fearless, free, and independent," resembling Bob Johnson's "independent, fearless, and free" on the Corvallis Times two years before.
Moorhead gave the people a good home-town weekly, and appreciation was expressed by a steady increase in advertising. He was mayor of the town in 1895. During the early years of the paper's existence, the county-division ferment noted in the Harrisburg Nucleus a few years earlier reappeared. In 1893 there was rather strong agitation for dividing the county into Lane and Blaine counties, and Mr. Moorhead was sharply criticised at Eugene for his fairly consistent support of the proposed division.
In an anniversary editorial published in 1926, Thomas Nelson wrote: "When and if on leaving Junction City we are held in as high esteem by the people as S. L. Moorhead we will feel that our work here has not been in vain."
Moorhead ran the paper in an eight-page five-column format. Four of the pages were ready-print. It was published every Saturday. The subscription price was $2 during the greater part of his stay at the helm.
In June, 1914, the publisher sold to George H. Baxter and moved to Cowlitz county, Washington. February 1, 1915, Baxter was succeeded by William C. Parry, who changed the publication day to Wednesday and made it a four-page six-column paper. The young publisher's health soon failed, and he died late in 1918, after having reported for a time on the Oregonian. L. W. Charles succeeded him as publisher.
Don Carlos Boyd, a native Oregonian fresh from the Astoria Budget, purchased the Times in January, 1919, and carried on excellently. The next October he sold a half interest to Thomas Nelson. When Boyd sold to E. Watrous, Mr. Nelson remained as partner. Soon Mr. and Mrs. Nelson purchased the Watrous interest.
Mr. Nelson grew up at the printer's case in the day of "tramp printers," and he is rather proud of having himself been a "typographical tourist." "When crossed the Snake river into Oregon in 1889, on the 'blind baggage,'" he once said, "my worldly possessions were six bits in cash and an extra pair of sox." He was foreman of the old Daily Reveille at Baker, partner in the John Day Sentinel, proprietor of a commercial printing plant in Eugene. His experience includes virtually all positions on newspapers from devil to managing editor. Mr. Nelson is musician (leader of the orchestra in Junction), and inventor, having to his credit bits of printing equipment and a 13-month calendar scheme, on which he says he has not found anyone antedating him (1896).
Under Mr. Nelson's regime the paper promptly installed a linotype, the first issue set on which appeared December 11, 1919. The paper also adopted the metropolitan policy of changing the size to suit the amount of business, and while the usual size was eight pages, ten were not infrequent. In April, 1920, Mr. Nelson moved the home—where the linotype and paper into a new concrete-floored everybody else would be a bit happier.
The publisher regards as the outstanding achievement of his ad ministration the paper's instrumentality in securiny the Horton wood en-track railroad from Junction City to the Horton district about 15 miles away.
He was president of the Oregon Press Conference in 1932.
Eugene.—The year of the establishment of the Eugene Guard is definite at 1867; the month, however, is uncertain. A researcher (46) who worked in the archives of the Oregon Historical Society at Port land places the date at March, 1867. Volume 2, No. 5, however, the oldest issue on file in the University of Oregon library, is dated November 21, 1868, indicating October 24, 1867, as the date of the first issue. This would not, though, be entirely conclusive, since regularity and continuity of publication was not so heavily emphasized in those early days as later, and a hiatus is not impossible.
The founder was J. B. Alexander, whose grandson, George L. Alexander, was for many years publisher of the Lebanon Express, retiring not long ago at an advanced age. The founder did not re main long, and the issue of November 21, 1868, found J. W. Skaggs in charge, as, apparently, he had been for several months.
The next week there appeared at the masthead the firm name Thompson & Victor as publishers of the young Democratic weekly. William Victor, who, in the words of his partner, "was a halfbreed Cherokee Indian" (47), left no great impression on Oregon journalism; but Thompson, his fellow-printer turned publisher, was a militant and picturesque figure, known for many years up and down the Pacific Coast as "Bud" Thompson.
Thompson had broken into journalism under Joaquin Miller on the old Eugene Herald, taking a job as printer in 1862 instead of obeying his father's wishes and going to school. He had been a student at the old Columbia College in Eugene in 1859. An older student was Cincinnatus Hiner (Joaquin) Miller, for whom Thompson already had developed great admiration. Miller, Thompson, W. H. Byars (later a newspaper man in Salem and surveyor general of the state), Finley Watson, Miller's brother George Melvin, and George Ogle "bached" in a shack 12×14 feet in size on the out skirts of Eugene. The president of the little college was a Professor Ryan, referred to elsewhere in this volume as the man who indulged in a bit of extra-curricular gunplay. He shot and wounded B. J. Pengra, publisher of the People's Press, for pro-union, anti-secession articles he believed Pengra had written but which really were the work of young Harrison R. Kincaid, who also was a Columbia College student.
The Democratic Herald had been founded in 1859, but failed to make the grade, suspending in 1860. It was soon revived by Anthony Noltner with Joaquin Miller as editor. Miller, as Thompson recalled, espoused the cause of the confederacy as the under dog, and the paper was one of several Willamette Valley papers suspended in the early years of the Civil war. After its resumption the government again threatened suspension on account of treasonable utter and Miller left for eastern Oregon and the Idaho mines. Thompson continued on the paper, working, successively, under Noltner and James O'Meara, old-timer who at one time or another edited several of Oregon's leading papers of the 60's and 70's.
The disposition of some to regard the Eugene Guard (now the Register-Guard) as dating from 1859, is based on the supposition that in some way it is a direct successor of the old Herald(1859)-Register (1862)-Review (1863). This, however, is not the case. September 16, 1865, was the suspension date of this newspaper, which (48) was combined with the Washington Democrat and the Arena of Noltner, Hicks, and Bellinger to be issued in Salem under the title of Democratic Review by Hicks after the retirement of the others. Hicks moved on to Portland the next year. Even if the plant had been moved back to Eugene to be used on the Guard by J. B. Alexander in 1867, this would give no obvious justification for a claim of continuity of publication; for ownership, location, and name would seem to be the earmarks of common identity rather than the mere use of the same physical plant—and there is no evidence that the Arena plant was moved back to Eugene for use on the Guard.
Kincaid's Oregon State Journal gave the following send-off to its departing contemporary:
Died.—The Eugene City Review has this day fizzled) died, become defunct and ceased to exist. It has been on the decline for many months, and since poor Jeff and Lee made their last "compromise" with Grant, it has been sinking very rapidly under a load of grief and disappointment, aggravated by serious financial embarrassments. Some say it has not died, but merely fizzled. Whether it died of grief or starvation is not yet known. We understand that the remains of the Review and W. L. Democrat are to be conveyed to Salem, where they will be united with the Arena. The combined debris will then be interred, Messrs. Noltner, Bellinger and Hicks performing the obsequies. The citizens of Salem may be considerably annoyed by the concern before it reaches its final resting place, but we hope they will bear their affliction with Christian fortitude.
In his autobiography (49) Thompson tells picturesquely of the difficulties of publishing a southern-sympathizing paper in Eugene in early Civil war times.
I remained there (on Noltner and Miller's paper) three years (wrote Thompson) and during that time did not lose three days; that is, if we except the occasions when, for a week or two, the Herald (50) was excluded from the United States mails for disloyal utterances. Publication would be suspended for a week or so and then come out under another name . . . these little vacations came so regularly that I began to enjoy them—I would go hunting. Thus Miller and Noltner struggled along, issuing their publication under three or four different names. There was talk at different times of providing Mr. Miller a residence at Fort Alcatraz, with board and lodgings at the expense of the United States government. . . .
The date assigned by Thompson for the sale of Miller's interest in the paper to Noltner was the spring of 1864. Thompson's own departure from Eugene came soon afterward, for reasons having no journalistic significance. He had helped Henry Mulkey, a political prisoner, to escape and sensed that, for a time at least, the Eugene environment would not be healthful. After a time the flurry over the incident blew over, and Thompson felt free to return.
A short stay on the Albany Democrat and some work on a Salem paper was followed by a summer spent in the hills up the McKenzie river, where he put on 50 pounds in weight. He then came back to Eugene and went to work for Skaggs on the new Guard.
It had not been so very long since T. J. Dryer had turned the Oregonian over to H. L. Pittock rather than keep up the struggle of trying to pay him wages as a printer. Skaggs was having similar trouble, and that's how the masthead came to carry the firm name Thompson & Victor. As Thompson told the story (51):
After I had worked there about two weeks the proprietor said to me, "I can't make the paper go. It will give me a black eye if the paper suspends publication while I am the owner. If you will take it I will give you not only the Washington hand-press and the type, but two bundles of paper and two cords of wood."
"In fact," said Thompson in another version (52), I was given the office on a promise to run the paper and keep it alive. I so far succeeded that after a year and a half I sold out, clearing $1200. The paper, the Eugene Guard, is still in existence."
With this money Thompson, then 23 years old, went to Roseburg and started the Plaindealer.
Close reading of Thompson's book fails to reveal one single reference to his partner, Victor. He did, however, refer to Victor in the interview with Fred Lockley.
One of Thompson's memorable achievements with his Eugene Guard was his successful campaign for a better school house for Eugene. For five months (53) he kept up a continuous battle, bringing on a business men's boycott that threatened the paper's existence. A skunk (it appears) had come up through the floor of the old schoolhouse and driven teachers and pupils away from there. The business men didn't relish repeated references to the odoriferous conditions surrounding early education in Eugene, and the taxpayers recoiled from the prospect of putting up a new building. Friends rallied to the support of the paper, and it not only won its school fight but stayed solvent.
Thompson came near deserting journalism for law before going to Roseburg. "Bob Bean" and he studied law together for a year. The Roseburg prospect, however, was regarded as too good to miss. "Bob Bean" is better remembered as Robert Sharp Bean, valedicto rian of the first class to be graduated from the University of Oregon, in 1878, and for many years a distinguished member of the Oregon supreme bench and the federal bench in Oregon.
The man who succeeded Thompson & Victor in charge of the Guard was George J. Buys, who, with A. Eltzroth, announced purchase of the paper December 18, 1869. June 4 of the next year Buys announced the purchase of Eltzroth's interest. Buys continued as publisher for eight years, when he sold to Ira and John R. Camp bell, whose close to 30 years' ownership constitutes the longest single proprietorship in the history of the paper. The Campbells were prominent figures in Oregon journalism, and nine years after they took over the Guard Ira L. Campbell was one of the founders of the Oregon Press Association at that famous meeting on Yaquina bay in 1887. Under the Campbell regime the paper first became a daily, in 1890.
And now came another of the big names in Eugene Guard history, that of Charles H. Fisher, the only man to enjoy more than one period of ownership (or part ownership) of the paper. Mr. Fisher, born in Douglas county in 1866, had been a Roseburg newspaper man (54). After his Roseburg experience, Mr. Fisher went to Boise, Idaho, in 1901 and founded there the Boise Capital News. It was from there that he came back to Oregon to publish the Eugene Guard. Mr. Fisher was prominent in Oregon civic as well as journalistic life, serving for several years as a member of the board of regents of the University of Oregon.
Charles H. Fisher's name as editor and publisher appears in the Guard's masthead July 12, 1907. He remained for five years, then moved to Salem, taking over the Salem Capital Journal in 1912.
His successor in Eugene was E. J. Finneran, who proceeded to parallel in Eugene the meteoric course of Sam Evans with the North western in Klamath Falls. The Guard installed a perfecting press, in a town of 10,000, with a circulation less than half of that number, which would have been adequate for several times the circulation. The pressman, once he had started the machine, had to keep an extra sharp eye on it or he'd find himself with an extra thousand papers on his hands.
Appointment of E. J. Adams as receiver for the Guard was announced January 28, 1916, and Mr. Adams, later private secretary to Senator Stanfield and then an attache of the Federal Trade Commission, conducted the paper for nearly three months. The week of April 1-5 he permitted the students of the new School of Journalism of the University of Oregon to direct the publication of the paper, under the eye of Eric W. Allen, then in his fourth year at the head of the University's work in journalism.
Commenting on the financial fate of the paper, in the issue of January 29, Mr. Adams called it "a case of overconfidence in the immediate future . . . wrecked by a European submarine in the sea of business depression. . . ."
In the issue of April 11, 1916, announcement was made of the purchase of the paper by Charles H. Fisher and J. E. Shelton. The Guard Printing Co. was formed, with Fisher as president and Shelton as editor and manager. Mr. Fisher continued in Salem as active editor-publisher of the Capital Journal. Five years later he returned to Eugene, having sold the Salem paper to George Putnam, recently from Medford. Three years later, April 5, 1924, Mr. Fisher died, and the paper was sold within a few months to Paul R. Kelty, night editor of the Morning Oregonian of Portland, who became editor and associated with him as manager his son, Eugene S. Kelty.
After three years the Keltys sold (March 1, 1927) to Alton F. Baker, formerly of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Mr. Baker, son of Elbert H. Baker, for many years publisher of the Cleveland paper, and brother of Frank S. Baker, Tacoma (Wash.) publisher, brought with him from Cleveland the Plain Dealer's star reporter, William M. Tugman, as managing editor. This effective set-up has persisted to the date of this writing.
November 17, 1930, Mr. Baker purchased the Eugene Register, which had recently moved over into the evening field with the Guard, and consolidated the papers as the Register-Guard. Several of the employees of the Register, including Horace Burnett, veteran city editor, who knows everybody in Lane county, were taken over into the new organization.
Since the consolidation the paper has grown steadily in strength and influence. Both Mr. Baker and Mr. Tugman are called on for a heavy share of their time in connection with the promotion of Eugene's commercial, civic, and educational interests.
A predecessor of the Guard was the Oregon State Journal, itself an offshoot of an earlier paper, the State Republican. These papers bring in some of the most interesting names in Eugene and Oregon journalism.
The State Republican was started January 1, 1862, by Shaw & Davis, using the plant of the defunct People's Press. Hilyard Shaw was one of the earliest pioneers of Eugene and interested in keeping an anti-slavery paper going in the town. He soon turned over the paper to James Newton Gale, one of several journalistic brothers who came west in 1853 from Posey county, Indiana. Gale was at the time conducting a bookstore in Eugene. Like his three brothers,Jones, Tom, and Henry R., James Newton Gale was a printer, and Shaw regarded him as the man to keep the Republican flag waving.
Gale had married Elizabeth Kincaid, sister of Harrison R. Kincaid, and he employed Harrison, then just 26 years old, to help get out the paper. Kincaid already had distinguished himself, more or less anonymously, on the old People's Press, as told in a previous chapter. Gale ran the Republican until May, 1863, when it was consolidated with the Oregon Argus. Early in 1864 he went to Portland to become editor of the Union, started on the same floor as the Oregonian in its old waterfront office. Influential citizens were backing the new paper, on which two elements had combined—the Republicans who had fallen out with Editor Amory Holbrook of the Oregonian, and the printers, who, recently formed into a union, had had a disagreement with Publisher Pittock. W. Lair Hill was the first editor, acting for Governor Gibbs and fellow-Republicans. He was succeeded by Gale. When the Union was suspended in May, Gale was called to Astoria by a group of business men to edit the Marine Gazette, Astoria's first paper. He remained there a year. Mrs. Gale's dislike for the cool climate of Astoria led him to leave for Olympia, where he was associated with Elisha Treat Gunn in starting the Transcript. He and his wife went from Astoria to Olympia in Indian canoes, up the Columbia to the Cowlitz, then up the Cowlitz. . . . Handicapped in his later years by failing health, he died at Olympia in 1889, aged 58. His daughter, Mrs. A. C. Barette, lives in Eugene.
When the Argus-Republican merger was taken over by the Statesman in November, 1863, Mr. Kincaid, with Joel Ware and William Thompson, obtained the part of the Argus plant (including the old Spectator press) which was not needed on the Statesman, and started (March 12, 1864) the Oregon State Journal, Republican paper. Thompson left the partnership immediately, Ware took very little part in publishing the State Journal, and Kincaid carried on the paper for 45 years, suspending it in 1909, when he was 73 years old. He was secretary of state 1895-1899. The paper continued throughout a devoted and influential advocate of Republican policies.
The Register was established in 1884 by S. M. Yuran, practical printer, and J. M. Hodson, as a Wednesday weekly. Later Yoran Bros. (Darwin E. and William C.) handled the paper and conducted a semi-weekly, Wednesdays and Saturdays. In 1898 Condon & Edwards (Chester Edwards and Seymour W. Condon), who had bought the paper from the Yorans, established the Morning Register, which ran continuously until 1930, a short time before the paper, then running an evening edition only, was merged with the Evening Guard. Edwards' partner in the firm that started the daily was a well-known 1882 graduate of the University of Oregon, who later went to California and became an editorial writer on Los Angeles papers.
In July, 1899, Will G. and W. Frank Gilstrap, who had given Springfield its first newspaper, the Messenger, a few years before, purchased the Register. The Gilstraps built up the mechanical equipment, put in a Cottrell press immediately on taking charge, installed a linotype in 1903, and a Cox Duplex press in 1908, the first press in Eugene to print paper from a roll. In 1905 the Register installed the Associated Press service, and the paper became the largest in Oregon outside of Portland.
In 1918, W. G. Gilstrap having retired several years before, W. F. Gilstrap sold his stock and retired as president and manager of the company. The paper was now directed by Frank Jenkins, editor, and Ernest Gilstrap, manager, who together had purchased the greater part of the stock in the paper. For many years Otto Gilstrap was telegraph editor and Horace Burnett city editor of the paper.
The Morning Register format was very conservative, resembling the Oregonian of those days in general makeup. It was never necessary for the news editor to "dummy" the front page, for the makeup scheme was always the same—alternating large and small single-column heads while the paper was printed on a seven-column page, and the same except for two small heads side by side in the fourth and fifth columns after the eight-column 12-em form was adopted. The paper featured its telegraph service, and a local news story had to be "tops" to fight its way on the front page. Register readers had been brought up on that sort of thing, and apparently they liked it. In the last few years the page was brightened up with Frank Jenkins' editorial comment column played under a box head and a by line in the first column of the page.
In 1930 Richard C. (Dick) Horn, who had been vice-president of the University of Oregon student body and a student of advertising in the School of Journalism, worked up a shopping news in Eugene. This and a weekly paper, the Record, edited by Fred Guyon and published by Elmer Maxey's Willamette Press at Springfield, combined to form the Morning News, a daily paper started to fit into the morning field abandoned by the Register, which had been consolidated with the Evening Guard late in 1930. In November, 1931, the paper was started with Joseph Koke, a leading Eugene commercial printer, as financial backer, John W. Anderson managing editor, Richard C. Horn manager. Fred Guyon was city editor, Harry Dutton sports editor, Helen Reynolds Wadleigh society and local.
The start was made in the depths of the depression, and it took hard work and close figuring to keep the paper afloat during those difficult times.
At the beginning of 1937 Sheldon F. Sackett, publisher of the Marshfield Times and former managing editor of the Salem Statesman, took an option on the paper, moved in and streamlined the makeup, threw a lot of pep into the organization, then withdrew apparently through some hitch in the arrangements, the details of which were not made public.
Later in the year Fred F. Chitty, Olympia publisher, came to Eugene and became publisher of the News, Mr. Anderson remaining as managing editor. The present editor and publisher is Arthur W. Priaulx, former journalism student at the University of Oregon, ex-chairman of the Republican state central committee, who had published the Chiloquin Review for several years. Mr. Priaulx has re-formed the whole editorial and business organization. Business manager is R. Allen Bean, formerly of Freewater.
Springfield.—So far as present records go, W. F. (Frank) Gilstrap of Eugene and his late brother W. G. (Will) Gilstrap, formerly of Eugene, were the fathers of journalism in Springfield. Mr. Gilstrap, later for many years one of the publishers of the Eugene Register, started the old Messenger, four-page weekly issued on Fri days, in 1892. This continued for a little over a year, and the field was then unoccupied for three years.
The Gilstraps were persuaded to come to Springfield from Oakesdale, Wash., where they were publishing the weekly Sun, Frank Gilstrap's first journalistic venture, by a Lane County optimist who brought Springfield's future a good deal closer to 1893 than it actually turned out. The town was supported chiefly by the Wheeler sawmill, predecessor of the big Booth-Kelly plant and using the same mill-race for its logs. Development was retarded by the general depression and some unfavorable local conditions.
The paper printed nothing but local news, was set entirely by hand, and printed on a Washington hand-press, the same kind of machine used on Oregon's first newspaper nearly half a century before. The circulation was about 500. Will Gilstrap did the editorial and news work, and Frank attended to the mechanical and business ends.
Springfield was then without a paper until 1896, when John Kelly launched the Nonpareil, which he edited through '96 and '97. In 1898 he sold to J. F. Woods, who changed the name to the Springfield News in 1903. He sold the paper in 1909 to Lewis M. Beebe. Beebe carried the paper along for about five years.
In the meantime Charles P. Poole, who later became county coroner, undertook in 1913 the editorship of the Lane County Star, a Prohibition paper, for the Lane County Publishing Association.
Two years later Beebe combined the papers under the title Lane County News. The Lane County Publishing Association now took over the paper, and its editor was William A. Dill, graduate of the University of Oregon, and former member of Eugene newspaper staffs, who was later to go from the Oregonian to a journalism teaching position at the University of Kansas. He died at Lawrence in the spring of 1939. In place of two papers the town now had one issued twice a week, on Mondays and Thursdays, for which no more was charged than the weekly had sold for—$1.50.
In 1916 Walter R. Dimm, graduate with the first full four-year class of the University of Oregon School of Journalism, was associated with his father, J. C. Dimm, practical printer, in the publication of the paper. They got the circulation up to 968. From 1919 up to 1924 there were several changes. The paper was made a weekly, issued Fridays; and successive publishers were Lynn W. Miller, Tage & Cagley, Robert A. Brodie, Tyler (S. H.) & Freeland (S. M.). Freeland & Henderson (T. V.). In 1924 H. Elmer Maxey, who for several years had been a reporter on the Eugene Daily Guard, became the publisher and has continued to date. One of the first things he did was to raise the size of the paper from five to six columns and to cut the subscription price from $2 to $1.25.
The paper is now usually eight columns, the number of pages flexible according to the amount of advertising to be carried.
Under Mr. Maxey the paper has taken an active part in the promotion of the Willamette Valley navigation and irrigation project, the first stages of which have been approved by the federal government. He is the president of the organization actively promoting the project, which is expected to be the greatest single impetus given the development of the Willamette valley.
As this is written, Charles H. Dickson, artist-reporter-editor, formerly of Seattle and Baltimore, is organizing a new tabloid paper to be published in Springfield for the rural residents of the upper Willamette valley.
Florence.—Two names come at once to mind in Florence journalism—W. H. Weatherson and M. D. Morgan. Mr. Weatherson, who succeeded B. F. Alley, founder of the Florence West, in 1898, as publisher of the first newspaper in western Lane county, gave the paper a unique, homey flavor in the days when the trip from Florence to Eugene was a longer, more difficult journey than the run to San Francisco is today and when Florence, therefore, enjoyed fairly complete isolation. Mr. Weatherson conducted the West, with the help of Mrs. Weatherson for many years, giving up to become postmaster about 1920. The other man, M. D. Morgan, formerly of Harrisburg, is the editor today of the latest of the successors of the old West, the Siuslaw Oar, founded June 8, 1928. Mr. Morgan is assisted by his son Leland. He is possessed of a salty wit, which he employs on occasion.
The West found it difficult to get supplies in those days of bad communication, with a bar blocking the way from the sea much of the time, and a mountain road, almost impassable, discouraging communication by land. One or two issues of the paper were printed, in part, on heliotrope paper.
The West suspended for two years during the World war 1916 to 1918, and during that hiatus Capt. Robert S. Huston, printer and Spanish-American war veteran, filled in with the Siuslaw Pilot. When the West was resumed, in 1918, Mrs. Weatherson served as associate editor, carrying out much of the editorial and mechanical work of the paper.
The successor of the West, which suspended in 1921, was the Siuslaw Region, edited by A. K. Lulay, in 1921 and 1922. The next year Ralph Moore founded the Siuslaw News, which ran in 1923 and 1924. Then came the Siuslaw Oar, the Morgan paper.