History of Oregon Newspapers/Tillamook County

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Tillamook—The Tillamook Headlight, so far as has been learned, was the first newspaper published in Tillamook county. Its first number appeared June 8, 1888, with C. E. Wilson & Co. as publisher and J. E. Edwards, a member of the company, as editor. The name is taken from the famous lighthouse on Tillamook head. It was issued weekly on Friday. The subscription price was $1.50.

An early change brought in Theodore Steinhilber as editor and publisher in 1889.

In August of that year W. F. D. Jones became associated with B. C. Lamb in the publication of the Headlight. In 1891 Jones and Lamb both left the paper, Jones to engage in newspaper work in Astoria. Thomas Coates, who is still living in Tillamook, conducted the paper for a year after Lamb disposed of his interest. The next year the Tillamook Headlight Company was formed with Mr. Jones president, and he edited the paper until the coming of Fred C. Baker in 1896. Mr. Jones died in California January 8, 1937, aged 73, after a long career in California journalism.

The longest continuous control of the Headlight was that of Mr. Baker, native Englishman, who spent more than a quarter of a century in charge. Mr. Baker continued in active direction of the paper until 1923, when he sold to Leslie Harrison.

In 1925 Mr. Baker returned for a short time to the editorship of the Headlight. The next two years the paper was conducted by Mr. and Mrs. A. L. Mallery, followed by Roy Blodgett. Then, in 1928, Irl S. McSherry and George E. Martin, formerly of the McMinnville Telephone Register, purchased the paper. The next owners were Thomas Walpole and D. A. DeCook, who were in charge of the paper when consolidation was effected with the Herald in 1934.

Fred C. Baker had learned the printer's trade in England. Coming to America in 1888, he went to work in the Oregonian composing-room. For three years in the middle 90's he published the Troutdale Champion. He is remembered mostly for his capable editorship of the Headlight. Mr. Baker was treasurer of the state press association in 1898 and 1899 and vice-president of the Oregon State Editorial Association in 1920. He died in June 1932, aged 77, after having spent about two years as a partner of A. M. Byrd in the Garibaldi News.

The Western Watchtower, second to the Headlight in chronology, was started in 1889 as a Saturday weekly of Republican politics. For about a year the paper ran under the joint ownership of J. L. Johnson and Cato Sullivan. It appears to have died within two years, and the plant was acquired in 1892 by John J. Stoddard and A. G. Reynolds, photographer, who then started the Tillamook Advocate, an independent weekly issued on Wednesdays. In 1894 the paper had become Republican, with T. B. Handley editor. The name was changed to the Herald in 1896 by R. M. Watson, who had purchased the Advocate from George A. Edmunds a short time previously.

The Herald's original plant, as recalled by Rollie W. Watson, who came to Tillamook soon after its start, was composed of a few cases of type, a small jobber, and a Washington hand-press, on which the seven-column folio was run off. His uncle, R. M. Watson, sold Rollie W. a half interest, and the partners put up the building which was to be occupied by the paper for the next quarter of a century. New type and machinery were constantly added, including a power cylinder press and a linotype. The original size of the paper, seven-column folio, was changed, first to a four-column quarto and later to a seven-column quarto.

Among the Herald's compositors as recalled by R. W. Watson were a number of young women who were later to be among Tilla mook's most prominent matrons. In the early 1900's Bell and Maude Wertz (later Mrs. C. T. McKinley), Kate Plank (later Mrs. Joe Franklin), Maude Nolan (later Mrs. R. L. Wade), Annie Price (later Mrs. Jack Robison) and her sister Lottie, Dora Donaldson, and several others were among the typos.

Dolan & Murphy, two journeymen printers, purchased the Herald in 1907, and in 1908 it was turned back to Rollie W. Watson, who carried on the paper for a few months. The next publisher was N. T. Pentreath, promoter and "wireless" salesman, who gave up in a few months. Watson recovered possession and sold in 1908 to C. E. Trombley. Trombley published the paper for fifteen years, selling in August 1923 to Allan McComb and Fred T. Mellinger. In 1924 Arne Rae, formerly of Eugene and Oregon City, purchased the McComb interest, and the new firm conducted the paper until the spring of 1929, when Mr. Rae retired to become field manager of the Oregon State Editorial Association and member of the faculty of the University of Oregon School of Journalism.

The Headlight and the Herald were merged as the Headlight-Herald in 1934, with Thomas Walpole and D. M. DeCook as publishers. Fred T. Mellinger, mechanical foreman, has been connected, in one capacity or another, with the paper for 16 years.

The early publishers of the Tillamook papers had their share of peculiar journalistic trials. For instance, as Rollie Watson recalled, it was to cost $50 a ton to pack newsprint paper over the mountain from North Yamhill when the steamer Sue Elmore was held up, several times, at the Tillamook bar with a supply of print while the last scraps were being used up on the newspaper.

The first presses on the Herald were one old Washington handpress and one jobber. The whole old equipment was long ago junked for a modern outfit.

Another Tillamook paper was the Independent, started late in November 1902. The Woods Ocean Wave of December 4, 1902, hailed the newcomer thus: "The Independent, Vol. 1, No. 1, came to us by today's mail. It is published at Tillamook, Oregon, by Mr. R. M. Watson, is a four-column eight-page newspaper all home print. It is filled with useful things largely pertaining to the resources of Tillamook county. We wish it success." It failed, however, and was gone in two years.

Garibaldi.—Journalism in this little Tillamook county town began in March 1923, when M. D. O'Connell established the weekly Garibaldi News. Mr. O'Connell continued as editor and publisher until 1928, when Fred C. Baker, veteran retired editor of the Tillamook Headlight, and A. M. Byrd, another veteran printer-editor, teamed up to publish the paper. Mr. Baker's health, however, was failing, and the next year the paper was directed by Mr. Byrd and his son, W. A. Byrd, who continued in charge for several years. In 1935 Ed. T. Pierson purchased the paper and rechristened it the Garibaldi-Rockaway News, the next year changing it again to the more inclusive title North Tillamook County News.

Cloverdale.—Journalistic history in the little Tillamook town of Cloverdale appears to cover a period of 16 years, from 1905 to 1921. The Cloverdale Courier, issued Fridays, was started by the optimistic Merle D. Nelson in 1905 as a non-political paper. In 1906 the paper passed to the hands of C. E. Trombley, better known in connection is with the Tillamook Herald. He moved to the county seat in 1908, when the paper was taken over by A. E. Hill. Hill's successor running the Courier was Frank Taylor, now an Albany commercial printer, who, with the homestead notices mostly all printed, folded the paper up in 1917 and went away and left it. The next year the plant was used by Rev. R. Y. Blalock to start the Nestucca Valley Enterprise. This paper lasted less than a year, and Cloverdale's jaunt into journalism was finished.

(When the foregoing lines were written, they were true, and Cloverdale had no newspaper. James T. Young and Carol H. Young, however, moved into the field in midsummer 1938 with the Nestucca Valley News, weekly. The News won the Sigma Delta Chi award for the best small country weekly in 1939.)

Bay City.—J. S. Dellinger, veteran Clatsop county publisher, started the first newspaper, the weekly Tribune, in this little town in 1 89 1, conducting it for two years before he moved to Astoria to begin a long career there. It was suspended on his departure from Bay City.

The town had no more newspapers until 1910, but two years later two publications were contesting the field. The News was started in 1910 by R. H. Miller as a Republican paper issued on Fri days. A four-page four-column paper, 15×22, it kept up the struggle at $1.50 a subscriber until 1913. The Examiner, also a Friday Republican paper of the same size, was started in 1911 by Herbert W. Conger. Ayer's in 1914 lists E. L. Merritt and M. A. Hamilton as editors and publishers. Two years later Elbridge C. Smith was in charge, and he changed the paper's politics to independent. By this time it was claiming 400 circulation. One day in 1917, however, the paper failed to answer the bell and has been "out" ever since.

Still a fourth paper, the Bay City Chronicle, served this small field for a time. It was launched September 7, 1923, by H. W. Long, but it failed to last through 1924.

Wheeler.—Wheeler, founded on lumber development, is not an old town, and its journalism history is short. The Reporter, founded in 1914, ran until March 1934, when it fell a victim to the depression. Probably the best known editor of the Reporter was G. B. Nunn, who took hold in 1919 and continued through to 1928. After a hiatus of three years, during which the paper was conducted by A. M. Byrd, also of Garibaldi, with Claire Warner Churchill, prominent Oregon writer, as local reporter, Mr. Nunn returned to the pa per in 1931, after a short period in which A. N. Merrill was publisher, continuing to the end.

Mr. Nunn, a Missourian, educated in old Dallas College, interspersed some newspaper work with timber-cruising and railroad-surveying. He worked on the Tillamook branch of the Southern Pacific.

Some of the difficulty in compiling the history of Oregon news papers is explained in a paragraph out of a recent letter from Mr. Nunn:

Old files of the Reporter were burned by a man who when no one was rented part of the building. It was done looking, not with intent to do damage, but just to be doing something, or to start a fire in the back yard to burn up some trash.