History of Oregon Newspapers/Polk County

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POLK


Dallas.—A Baptist Democratic weekly, the Religious Expositor, was Polk County's first contribution to Oregon journalism. It was published at Eola, a little town near the Marion county line, by C. M. Mattoon, in 1856. The first number, which was closer to the last than the hopeful publisher had any inkling, appeared May 6. After a few issues the paper was moved, July 19, to Corvallis, where it died October 11, a few months before the appearance of J. C. Avery's Occidental Messenger.

The Dallas Weekly Itemizer, which survives as a part of Earle Richardson's Polk County Itemizer-Observer, published at Dallas, was the county's next newspaper, the first one of any real significance. The first number appeared in 1868. (42). It was founded, like so many other newspapers, by J. H. Upton, and its first name was the Polk County Signal. The Signal was a political newspaper, Democratic, "born," Vivian Fiske says, "for the political campaign in which Joseph E. Smith defeated David Logan for congress." It was a four-page seven-column paper, issued on Mondays, and Mr. Upton was asking $3 a year.

The paper's next name was the Oregon Republican, given it in March 1870 by R. H. Tyson, editor and publisher, who changed the publication day to Saturday, cut the price to $2 a year, and claimed 500 circulation. When P. C. Sullivan purchased the paper from Tyson in 1872 he called it the Liberal Republican, synchronizing with the Liberal Republican campaign of Horace Greeley, whom the newspaper supported for president. John J. Daly was the editor.

Several changes of ownership followed this disastrous campaign. Henry Sullivan and A. R. Lyle took hold but before long sold out to Reese Clark, later of Woodland, Calif. Clark in turn sold to Casey & Hammond, and Ed Casey soon became sole owner. The name had been changed to the Dallas Itemizer, December 2, 1872, under Hammond, Rubell, and Hedges, editors and publishers. Casey changed publication day to Saturday. Casey's ownership dates from & Williams (Walter) took hold. 1875 to 1877, when Crosson George E. Good became owner the next year. Good changed the name in 1879 to the Polk County Itemizer, which it remained throughout its independent career. The paper struggled financially, owing to the publisher's lack of business enterprise, and the first power press, installed by Good several years before any paper in the larger town of Corvallis made the venture, remained unpaid-for several years later. For one year Good tried to serve both Independence and Dallas with the same paper, printing it all at home but having one side (two pages) set up in Independence under the direction of M. L. Pipes, editor. In 1882 Mr. Pipes moved to Dallas and for more than a year occupied the chair of editor of the Itemizer.

Good sold to Rev. J. S. McCain in that year, and he to V. P. Fiske in 1883. Glass & Prudhomme became the publishers in 1885, and W. A. Wash in June 1888.

Mr. Wash was an interesting editor. Let's take a look at the Itemizer under his direction. Here's the issue of Friday, January 12, 1894. The paper, issued Fridays, had an 8-column, 13-em format. Five columns of ads on the left side of the first page, the rest boiler plate (ready-set) miscellany. On the second page was a column of editorial and the rest nearby correspondence, mostly from Independence and Monmouth; two columns of advertising. Page 3 was almost solid with short items, sized from the top down with the largest at the bottom of each column. No heads adorned the items, which were separated by added space (the printer would say, by slugs). Half a column of advertising. Mr. Wash didn't need much space for set editorials, for he expressed himself and his attitudes in the news columns whenever the spirit moved him.

Sad indeed (he wrote, in the midst of the news items) and unfortunate must be the life of any woman tied to a drunkard or gambler. The moderate drinkers and amateur gamblers of a few years ago are the drunkards and gamblers of today. Parents, for the sake of your daughters, suffer them not to associate with young men who frequent saloons and gambling places.

Another, on the same page:

Some people have no thought or idea of economy. For in stance, they spend, say, $20 a year for bacon and lard, bought a little at a time, when they could have bought for $12 a 200-pound dressed hog and themselves made of it the same amount. A number of families in Dallas bought several hogs, made their own lard, and are now curing their own bacon.

Also this subjective little item:

The laws against stealing were made for the protection of honest people. There are a few rogues in different parts of the country, and it is almost certain that before another winter comes some of them will be wearing striped clothes among the other convicts over at Salem.

This news editorial item:

The city council have been petitioned to use their utmost to suppress gambling in Dallas, and it remains to be seen what action they may take. Is it possible that any member of the council will express himself as in sympathy with gambling or to let it alone? Both the state and the city laws forbid because of its continual bad influences and bad our city council will set their faces as one man results, and the saloons and elsewhere in Dallas, most of against can be suppressed. Will they do it?

Mr. Wash on cigarettes:

It is probable that congress will increase the tax on cigarettes from 50¢ to $1.50. It would be a blessing to young men if they could be legislated out of existence, for they are sapping the mental and physical energies of thousands.

Page 4 contained two columns of advertising and six columns of Page boiler plate. column of plate credited to the Department of Publicity and Promotion of the California Midwinter International Exposition was an advance blurb for the show, which opened January 1.

Glass & Prudhomme, predecessors of Wash, were two early members of the Portland typographical union who later became big printing firm in Portland. Wash conducted the paper until 1906. In that year Fiske repurchased the paper, continuing as sole owner until was consolidated with the Observer 1927. M. L. Boyd, together with E. Bloom for three years and individually for the remainder of Mr. Fiske's ownership, had the Itemizer under lease.

The Polk County Observer was started in Monmouth in 1888 by Charles C. Doughty and George Snyder and was moved to Dallas. A few months later (January 29 of the next year) Snyder withdrew as a partner, and in 1892 Carey Hayter purchased an interest. In 1899 Mr. Hayter bought Mr. Doughty's interest and continued as publisher until 1910, when he leased the paper to Jack Allgood and Dean Collins. Collins was a young graduate of Dallas Academy and the University of Oregon who later was to advance into the front rank in Portland journalism.

In 1911 the Observer was sold to Eugene Foster and William Totten. After Foster's death Totten sold to Volk and Parsell in 1914. Parsell sold to Volk, and Volk to Lew Cates in 1914. H. W. Brune bought the paper in 1916 and turned it back to Cates the next year to enlist in the army. E. E. Southard then purchased the paper, and in a few months Cates had it back again. The last owner prior to Earle Richardson was E. A. Koen, later of Oregon City, who conducted the Observer from 1919 until March 1, 1924. The Observer plant was destroyed by fire in April 1921, but Koen did not miss an issue and soon had an enlarged plant. Richardson came to Dallas from Elgin, where he had conducted the Elgin Recorder, his first independent publishing venture, for a short time. He had previously been associated with W. Arthur Steele in the publication of the Clatskanie Chief. To the Chief he had gone after two years of work as an employee, part of it on the Cottage Grove Sentinel under Elbert Bede and the rest on the Oregonian as a reporter under City Editor Horace E. Thomas. He had been graduated from the University of Oregon School of Journalism in 1920.

The Itemizer-Observer, notwithstanding a general policy of sparing use of editorial, is not backward when anything really needs to be said. What Mr. Richardson can do on occasion was demonstrated in his two-year fight against a dishonest public official, conducted in the face of what the Oregonian in an editorial of appreciation published December 12, 1933, called "severe and threatening" disapproval. Reviewing the case, the Itemizer-Observer expressed the editor's attitude as follows:

We decided that if necessary we would walk out of Dallas still able to look our fellowmen in the eye, and hold our own head high, even though it cost us everything we had in the world.

Threats of retaliation should the editor dare to discuss in print "the repeated neglect of the court to pass sentence" were published in the paper and ignored. The outcome was victory for the paper and the public interest; but the issue was long doubtful. "The people of Polk county and of Dallas," the Oregonian concluded, "should be proud of the Itemizer-Observer and its editor."

The other Dallas publications were the Valley Transcript, the News, and the Oregon Woodman. The Transcript was established by A. V. R. Snyder November 1, 1892, and continued until June 1, 1895, when it was moved to McMinnville. During those years the small Polk county seat of government had three newspapers—the Transcript, the Itemizer, and the Observer. The Woodman was a weekly fraternal paper, conducted by V. P. Fiske from March 1896 to March 1908. It was printed in the Itemizer office. The News was a Friday weekly conducted by E. C. Pentland, formerly of Independence, which was born and died within the same year of 1899.

Monmouth.—Prof. T. F. Campbell, who was president of Chris tian College, Monmouth, from 1869 to 1883 and the father of Prince L. Campbell, president of the University of Oregon from 1902 to 1925, was the founder of the first paper founded in Monmouth, the Christian Messenger, which also was the first paper started by the Christian church (Campbellite) on the Pacific coast. (43). Almost all its space was devoted to Coast news and very little to local. The first number came off the press October 8, 1870. The paper was established by Mr. Campbell to help him publicize and build up the college. He had come from Missouri in 1869 to be president of the college, and the paper was started at the beginning of his second year as head of the institution. The equipment included a steam press, which was one of the first in the Willamette valley. The printing was done by a printer named Dellinger, who happened along at the time. His suc cessor, when he moved after a few weeks, was Robert Foulkes, a printer recently from Wales, who had settled at Falls City. When the publisher sought to interview him, the newcomer could not speak English and Mrs. Foulkes acted as interpreter. Mr. Foulkes remained with the paper as long as it was published in Monmouth (it was moved away a few years after President Campbell went back to Missouri to head a Christian college there.)

Robert Foulkes later moved to Portland, where his son David, who set his first type on the Messenger in 1884, became a journey man printer, working for George H. Himes, then went to the Oregonian in 1889, working up to be head of the entire mechanical department of the paper, in which position he remained until 1934.

One of Mr. Campbell's employees in 1879 was Mary Stump, business manager and proofreader. She later became the second wife of President-Publisher Campbell. Other helpers on the paper were Armilda Doughty and her brother Charles. Charles later founded the Polk County Observer in Monmouth (1888) and moved it the next year to Dallas, where, as part of the Itemizer-Observer, it has come down to the present. Young Prince L. Campbell used to come in Thursdays with John Stump to help fold the papers and swap the latest good stories. Miss Maggie Butler of Monmouth was another helper.

President T. F. Campbell wrote much for the Messenger, which is credited with assisting greatly in early Christian education in Oregon. The students of the college also used the paper as a vehicle for their offerings. The paper built up a circulation of nearly 2,000 a week.

Let's take a glance at the first number of the Christian Messenger. Saturday, October 8, 1870, it was a six-column four-page paper, issued from its office under the Good Templars' hall, Monmouth. The announced subscription price was $2 a year, and advertising rates were $2.50 a square (10 lines one column wide, or less) for the first insertion and $1 for each subsequent insertion. The whole paper was characterized by what newspaper men would call the "religious slant." The salutatory indicated it was frankly a religious paper; the need was seen for a denominational medium. "We will give," said the editor, "a faithful history of current events and an im partial history of the times. Partizan politics and sectional issues that might be offensive to any portion of our citizens we will studiously avoid. All unlovely personalities and individual controversies, not involving a general principle, will be carefully excluded. No man will be permitted to cater to a vindictive spirit, or gratify his malice or hatred against a brother or fellow-citizen through the columns of this paper." The Messenger, in this connection, promised amends for any harm done, unintentionally, in this paper. "We will try to distinguish between the man and the principle he advocates." The paper promised not to oppose a good cause because advocated by a bad man, or vice versa.

All of which is pretty good gospel to this day, as instructions to young reporters and country correspondents.

An editorial advocated adequate organization by the legislature of the common school system in Oregon; another editorial supported the resolution in the legislature asking Congress to pass an act where by the 500,000 acres of land granted at statehood for internal improvement or, in certain cases, for education, be applied exclusively to educational purposes.

In another column T. F. Campbell, editor-educator, recites that in the year he had been in Monmouth he opened Christian College (September 6), made 175 sermons, on 53 texts, four lectures on education, and one on temperance. A busy man!

In 1876 D. T. Stanley became editor and publisher. The publication day was changed to Friday. The next year the name became the Pacific Christian Messenger and the publication day was changed to Saturday. D. T. Stanley had associated with him Thomas Porter. In 1878 Mr. Campbell was back as editor with Miss Mary Stump as publisher. Editors during the eighties were Mr. Stanley, again, Bruce Wolverton, J. F. Floyd (1884), then Stanley again. In 1886 the paper was known as the Christian Herald. Soon afterward the paper was moved to San Francisco, where it continued for several years. It was finally among the casualties of the earthquake and fire that destroyed the San Francisco business district in 1906.

The Monmouth Democrat was started in 1892 by A. B. McMullian, who ran it for about a year, when it was suspended.

Next came the Monmouth Herald, which has continued to the present. It was established September 4, 1908, by W. T. Fogle, who sold it in 1910 to David E. Stitt. R. B. Swenson, the present owner, who has built the paper to a very prosperous status, purchased the Herald in March 1916.

Mr. Swenson, who had come west in 1913 and settled temporarily in southern California, came north in 1915 and helped the publishers wind up the affairs of the old Bandon Recorder, which was then being crowded out of the field by the up-and-coming Western World. Mr. Stitt, who had pioneered in Bandon as a livery stable proprietor and had gone into newspaper work as something better suited to his tastes and a better line in which to employ his two daughters, had left Bandon in 1910 for the non-competitive field of Monmouth.

When Mr. Swenson took hold, the Herald was printed a page at a time on a large California job-press. The plant consisted of "two jobbers and a motor, some type, stones, and a paper-cutter," as Mr. Swenson recently expressed it. It was operated in a small home in the Monmouth residence district. Since then the Herald has changed presses three times, each a little better than the previous one. The new owner continued to set type by hand for a year or two, then bought a Unitype, soon displacing that by a linotype.

The Herald on one occasion printed "next week's paper" and put it in the post office ahead of "this week's paper." Explaining this chronological phenomenon, Mr. Swenson says the family (synonymous with office force) was to take a two weeks' vacation in the Yosemite. They filled the advance edition entirely with reminiscences and other time copy, climbed into the car, and headed south. Mr. Swenson was one of the first Oregon publishers to change his format to tabloid. He likes it that way.

Independence.—Martin Luther Pipes, who had arrived in Oregon May 17, 1875, from Mansfield, Louisiana, with his bride of a few weeks, went immediately to Independence, where he was to start the town's first newspaper. He taught school for a year, then (in 1876) started the Semi-Weekly Telegram. Mr. Pipes, a stanch Democrat, was assisted with the mechanical work by W. P. Conoway, an equally zealous Republican, from Missouri. The editor, who had started with the traditional "hatful" of type and an obsolete press, had to depend heavily on Conoway for the mechanical work, and not being much of a printer himself, found it necessary to watch Conoway like a hawk to keep him from making embarrassing changes in the Democratic editorials. (44).

The paper lasted only six months, but it served to cut the journalistic eye teeth of the first president of the Oregon State Editorial Association.

The next paper in Independence was the Riverside, established by Quivey (G. W.) & Waller in 1879. It was an independent weekly, issued Fridays. It ran for five years.

The West Side, next in chronological order, and a namesake of a paper started at McMinnville in 1870, was to give his journalistic baptism to another considerable newspaper figure, Will H. Parry, founder of the Salem Capital Journal. The West Side was established by Parry in 1883 as an independent weekly, issued on Fridays. When Parry moved on to Corvallis in 1886 Will W. Brooks became editor and publisher, then (1888) E. C. Pentland, (1890) the anonymous Polk County Publishing Company. In 1891 the editor was J. R. N. Bell, who, like Pipes and Parry and Pentland, had been one of the founders of the state association, later becoming a loyal citizen of Corvallis. In 1893 Pentland was back as editor. In 1899 Editor J. W. Crawford made the paper Republican. The paper ran as a semi-weekly, the West Side Enterprise, in 1906, having been consolidated in 1905 with the Enterprise, which had been established by J. T. Ford in 1894. The paper later dropped the West Side part of the name.

The Enterprise had been established as a Democratic weekly, published Thursdays. Successive publishers up to 1905, when it consolidated with the West Side, were J. T. Ford (1894), Harry E. Wagoner (1897), Wagoner Bros. (1904), Walter Lyon (1905). In 1908 the consolidated paper, again known as the Enterprise, was back on the weekly schedule, with Charles E. Hicks issuing the paper on Thursday only. Z. C. Kimball, present owner, purchased the paper in 1920. A recent transfer gave the paper a new owner, Ralph H. Klitzing, formerly of the Oregon Statesman.

About that time another newspaper, which had been running in Independence, the weekly Monitor, since August 1, 1912, published by G. A. Hurley, suspended.

The Enterprise has had no competition since then.