Oregon Historical Quarterly/Volume 3/History of the Press of Oregon, 1839–1850
HISTORY OF THE PRESS OF OREGON 1839~1850.
By George H. Himes.
One of the most signally important agencies in the development of a country is the art of printing with movable types, the "Art Preservative of all Arts." Since its discovery in Europe in 1430–1450 it has become one of the most potent of world forces. The first printing press in America, at least so far as the English language is concerned, about which anything is known, was established at Cambridge, Massachusetts, in March, 1639, by one Day. The proprietor's name was Glover, who died on his way from England to America. The first thing printed was the freeman's oath, the second an almanac, and the third a version of the Psalms. In 1709 a press was established at New London, Connecticut, by a printer named Short. The first code of Connecticut laws was revised by the general court, held at Hartford in October, 1672, and printed by Samuel Green, at Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1675. The first newspaper in America was the News Letter, printed in Boston, April 17, 1704. The first newspaper in Connecticut was the Gazette, begun at New Haven in 1755, by James Parker, but discontinued in 1767, because he removed to New York, and is believed to have been the first printer in that city.
The first press on the Pacific Coast, or any of its tributary islands, operated by citizens of the United States, was the Mission Press of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (the foreign missionary society of the Congregational and Presbyterian churches of the United States), which was sent to Oahu, Sandwich Islands, late in 1821. On January 5, 1822, stands for type cases were made and part of the type placed in the cases. On January 7th the first impression of the first sheet of the Owyhee spelling book was taken. The name of the printer was Elisha Loomis, who was also a teacher, and went from Middlesex, New York, to join the mission party at Boston, which sailed from that port to the islands on October 23, 1819. When the first sheet of the spelling book was printed the native governor, Tiamoko, several masters of vessels, and others, were present to witness the scene, the first of the kind in these islands. How interesting to those who carried forward their reflections to the future and distant and endless results. On January 10th Mr. Loomis printed the king's name in "elegant capitals" in the two forms, "Rihoriho," and, 'Liholiho," so that he might settle the question whether "R" or "L" should be used in spelling his name. He chose the former. On January 12th Mr. Loomis printed a supply of several kinds of approbation tickets, to be used among the school children. The progress of printing was slow, owing to the difficulties in translating the language. At the end of six months only sixteen pages of a small spelling book had been printed. Late in 1825 Mr. Loomis made a statement to the effect that up to that date sixteen thousand copies of the spelling book, four thousand copies of a small scripture tract, four thousand copies of a catechism, and tw r o thousand copies of a hymn book of sixty pages had been printed, and in this connection stated that another press and more type was greatly needed. Not long after the above date a press was established at Honolulu, and by March 20, 1830, the combined plants had issued twenty-two distinct books, averaging thirty-seven small pages each, amounting in all to three hundred and eighty-seven thousand copies.
In a few years the demand for printed matter in the islands assumed such proportions that greater facilities for printing became necessary; hence the first Honolulu press was laid aside.
In 1836 the American Board Mission among the Indians in Oregon was established, so as a means of encouragement, and with a view to helping on in the work of this mission as far as possible, the First Native Church of Honolulu decided to send it the unused press. Accordingly, an arrangement was effected with Mr. Edwin O. Hall, who had been one of the printers of the mission since 1835, to take it to Oregon. It was shipped with type, fixtures, paper, and binding apparatus, all valued at $500, and arrived at Vancouver, on the Columbia River, about April 10, 1839. An express was sent to Dr. Marcus Whitman at Wai-il-et-pu, six miles west of the present city of Walla Walla, Washington, and to Rev. H. H. Spalding at Lapwai, on the Clearwater, not a great way from the present city of Lewiston, Idaho, notifying them that the press, with Mr. and Mrs. Hall, and F. Ermatinger, as guide, would leave Vancouver on the 13th with the hope of reaching Fort Walla Walla (now Wallula) on the 30th. Spalding, with his wife and child, started for Wai-il-et-pu on the 24th and reached his destination on the 27th. The next day a note was received to the effect that the press and party before named had just arrived, passage having been made up the Columbia River in a canoe. On May 6th the press and escort started for Lapwai, the press on pack animals in charge of Ermatinger; Hall and wife, and Spalding and family in a canoe, and all arrived safely at their destination late on the evening of the 13th. On the 16th the press was set up, and on May 18, 1839, the first proof sheet in the original Oregon territory was struck off. This was an occasion of great rejoicing. On the 23d it was resolved to build an adobe printing office. On the 24th the first four hundred copies of a small book in the Nez Perce Indian language was printed. The translation was made by Mr. and Mrs. Spalding and Cornelius Rogers, a teacher in the mission, and used in manuscript form prior to the arrival of the press. On July 10th the style of alphabet was agreed upon, it having been decided to adopt the one used in the Sandwich Islands. This was done at Kamiah by Doctor and Mrs. Whitman, Mr. Spalding and wife, Rev. A. B. Smith and wife, and Mr. Hall. On August 1st the printing of another book was commenced in the new alphabet, and by the 15th five hundred copies were completed. On December 30th the press was packed, with the intention of sending it to Doctor Whitman's station, Wai-il-et-pu, to print a book there. The next day it started on its journey, and that evening the pack horse fell down a precipice and it was supposed that the press was dashed to pieces. On January 1, 1840, Mr. Rogers rode to the scene of the accident, gathered all the material together and returned. By the 17th the press was again set up, and it was discovered that nothing was lost save a few type. By this experience it was found that it would be easier to send the manuscript to the press than the press to the manuscript. Printing was resumed on the 20th, and on the 28th, Mr. Hall having started for the Sandwich Islands, Mr. Rogers, who had been taught to set type and operate the press by Mr. Hall, was empolyed to take charge of the press and do the printing for the mission for 30, English money, per year and his board. Thereafter, so long as the mission was sustained, the usual routine of work was pursued.
It is impossible to state accurately the number of publications that were issued from this press in the Flathead, Spokane, Cayuse, and Nez Perce languages, but it is believed to have been at least a dozen. It has been my good fortune to secure four copies of these publications for the library of the Oregon Historical Society during the past three years.
Tramp printers were not common in those early days, and but few found their way to this then comparatively unknown region. The earliest one that there is any record of was a man named Turner. One evening in 1839, soon after the press was set up at Lapwai, Mr. Spalding was standing on the banks of the Clearwater, and was surprised to hear a white man on the opposite shore call him. He paddled across the river in a canoe to the stranger and took him home. The man gave his name as above, that his home was in Canada, and that he had come from Saskatchewan on foot. Spalding, being somewhat incredulous, never learned his history. When Turner saw the printing office he said, "Now I am at home." He assisted in arranging the plant and in making pads. Mr. Spalding translated passages of the Bible and several hymns for the Sunday-school in the Nez Perce tongue, and Turner set them up. He was quite attentive to his work and remained all winter. Mr. Spalding had planned to have considerable printing done and had arranged to pay Turner wages, but he suddenly disappeared and was never heard of afterward.
The next printers to appear at Lapwai were Medare G. Foisy and Charles Saxton, both coming across the plains from Saint Louis in 1844. But little is known of Mr. Saxton, as he returned to "The States" the following year, and published a journal of his trip across the plains, giving a description of Oregon, and dwelling at length upon the importance of the country claimed by the United States upon the North Pacific coast.
Mr. Foisy was a French Canadian by birth, a son of an affluent leather merchant, and was born at Quebec in 1816. After receiving a practical education in the French schools of his native city, at the age of sixteen he was sent to an English school in Vermont for a short time. His father desiring that he should learn the leather business, kept him about the tannery and store for eighteen months. This proving uncongenial, and having a desire to acquire a knowledge of printing, he learned the trade in a French office. Determining to acquire a knowledge of English, he left home early in 1837 and worked in a Cincinnati office a short time, then in the Louisville Journal office two months, and that fall went to Saint Louis, where he obtained a situation on the Republican, remaining until the close of 1843, when he gave up his job to prepare for the overland trip to Oregon, and arrived at Spalding's mission at Lapwai as above stated. He worked in the mission printing office nearly a year, and in December, 1845, went to French Prairie. The following spring he was elected a member of the legislative committee from Champoeg County—changed to Marion County in 1850. Soon after he concluded to visit Canada, and started thither by the way of California and the Nicaragua route. On reaching California his homeward journey was temporarily given up. Here he met the northwestern limits of the Mexican war, and saw considerable active service under Fremont. For a time he was the alcalde of Monterey, and worked on the first newspaper printed in that place. When peace was declared in February, 1848, Mr. Foisy once more started for his home, via Central America, but was blockaded in the port of San Bias, Mexico. Soon he was relieved by Captain Bailey of the United States Navy, and taken back to Monterey. Here he remained until after the delegates to form a state constitution were elected. In that exciting event he took an active part against the spread of slavery. The years 1849 and 1850 were for the most part spent in the mines, and in the fall of the latter year he gave up his contemplated trip to Canada and returned to Oregon, bought a farm near the present site of Gervais, and became one of the principal farmers of that region, and was highly respected by all who knew him. He died in 1879.
The next that is known about this mission press is in June, 1846. A number of parties living at Salem, among them Dr. W. H. Willson, Joseph Holman, Mr. Robinson, Rev. David Leslie, J. B. McClane, and Rev. L. H. Judson, desiring to issue a paper, sent Mr. Alanson Hinman, then a teacher in Salem, now living in Forest Grove, on horseback to Whitman mission, to secure it for the purpose indicated. Doctor Whitman was willing that it should be used, but referred the matter to Mr. Spalding, at Lapwai, where the press was located. Mr. Hinman rode there and interviewed Mr. Spalding. He consented to have the press go to the Willamette Valley, but not without the consent of Messrs. Walker and Eells, who were at the Spokane mission. Accordingly Mr. Hinman secured an Indian guide and rode thither and obtained their permission, but was referred back to Messrs. Spalding and Whitman. Returning to Lapwai, Mr. Hinman explained the situation to Mr. Spalding, who made conditions which would give him more control over the paper than the Salem parties were willing to grant, hence they declined to take the plant. However, Mr. Spalding sent the press to Doctor Whitman, and he sent it on to Wascopum—The Dalles—where it remained until after the Whitman massacre, November 29-30, 1847. Early in March, 1848, it was transferred by Mr. Spalding to Rev. J. S. Griffin, who took it to the Tualatin Plains, near Hillsboro, and that year issued eight numbers of a sixteen-page magazine called The Oregon American and Evangelical Unionist. As it may be of interest to show the scope of this publication, the following is quoted from the prospectus in the first numbers:
It is devoted to American principles and interests, To evangelical religion and morals, To general intelligence, foreign and domestic, To temperance and moral instrumentalities, generally, To science, literature and the arts, To commerce and internal improvements, To agriculture and home manufactures, To the description and development of our natural resources, To the physical, intellectual and moral education of rising generations, And to such well defined discussions generally, as are calculated to elevate and dignify the character of a free people.
Edited by Rev. J. S. Griffin, and printed by C. F. Putnam. Issued once in two weeks.
The editor in his introduction says:
Our list of subjects, to which we are devoted, is not so much an expression of confidence in our humble ability to treat them all successfully, as to call attention of the writers generally, each to his chosen department of interest and investigation, that all through a common medium of communication, may mutually instruct and be instructed.
The first issue was on June 7th, although it is not dated. It is evident that it did not appear as originally intended from the following apology:
A train of unavoidables has prevented our first number appearing as early as intended and its execution is by no means what may hereafter be expected.
We have much confidence in the young gentleman, Mr. Putman, our publisher, who, being disappointed in obtaining his new ink roller as expected, was left in the first number to the daubing use of a past-recovery dried ink ball. Those acquainted with the difference in the execution of the two instruments, know how to appreciate the apology.
Some typographical improvements, as well as improvements in the general execution, may be looked for.
The following is taken from the prospectus:
Terms: $4.00 currency, or $3.00 in cash, if paid within three months; $4.00 cash, or $5.00 in currency, if not paid at the end of three months; if not paid at the end of six months, discontinued at the discretion of the proprietor. Advertisements at $1.50 per square of sixteen lines or less, for first insertion; and 75 cents per square for each subsequent insertion. A liberal discount to yearly advertisers. N. B.—Companies of ten subscribers may pay in merchantable wheat at merchant prices, delivered at any time (giving us notice), at any principal depot for wheat in the several counties, being themselves responsible for its storage and delivery to our order. Duebills issued by solvent merchants taken at their currency value. We will not declare our days of issuing, until the next number, hoping some mail opportunity may be secured, and if so, will issue on the day most favorable for our immediate circulation.
Much space in the magazine is given to the history of the Whitman massacre of November 29–30, 1847, by Rev. H. H. Spalding, together with a discussion pro and con of the causes leading up to it. In this discussion Peter H. Burnett, a lawyer of Oregon City, and afterwards the first governor of California, took a prominent part.
In No. 3, July 5, 1848, referring to President Folk's message, the editor says it "manifests more interest about Mexico than about Oregon."
After No. 7 was issued the paper suspended for several months. This suspension was caused, so the editor states, by some one opposed to his views on the causes leading to the Whitman massacre hiring the printer to break his contract and go off to the mines. Early in 1849 another printer was secured, and on May 23d, No. 8 appeared. This was the last number issued.
Fully thirty years ago Mr. Griffin placed the press in the custody of the Oregon Pioneer Association, and now it is in the possession of the Oregon Historical Society.
Rev. John Smith Griffin was born in Castleton, Vermont, in 1807. He was educated in various schools in New England and Ohio, finishing his theological course in Oberlin, where he was ordained a minister of the Congregational Church. The church at Litchfield, Connecticut, secured an equipment and sent him to Oregon in 1839 as an independent missionary to the Indians. In 1840 he endeavored to start a mission among the Snakes, but failing he and his wife went to the Tualatin Plains in 1841 and began the first white settlement in what is now Washington County. On May 2, 1843, he was at Champoeg, and voted in favor of the first civil government in Oregon. He was pastor of the first church in Washington County for a time. He died in February, 1899.
Charles F. Putnam, printer, was born in Lexington, Kentucky, July 7, 1824. He learned the printing trade in New York City, and in 1846 came to Oregon, settling in Polk County. In 1847 he was married to Miss Rozelle, the eldest daughter of Jesse Applegate, who came to Oregon from Missouri in 1843. When he contracted with Mr. Griffin to print his paper, he taught his wife to set type, and thus she became the first woman typesetter on the Pacific Coast. Mr. Putnam left the Willamette Valley for Umpqua Valley in the fall of 1849, and settled near Mount Yoncalla. He is still living, though quite feeble, near the town of Drain.
Early in 1844 it became evident to the leading spirits of the infant settlement at Oregon City that its interests would be greatly promoted by a press, and accordingly, after much discussion as to methods of management, the Oregon Printing Association was organized, the officers of which were as follows: W. G. T'Vault, president; J. W. Nesmith, vice president; John P. Brooks, secretary; George Abernethy, treasurer; Robert Newell, John E. Long, and John R. Couch, directors. The press used was a Washington hand press, bed twenty-five by thirty-eight inches . The plant was procured in New York through the instrumentality of Governor George Abernethy, although he was reimbursed by the Printing Association in due time.
The constitution of the association was as follows:
In order to promote science, temperance, morality, and general intelligence; to establish a printing press; to publish a monthly, monthly or weekly paper in Oregon the undersigned do hereby associate ourselves together in a body, to be governed by such rules and regulations as shall, from time to time, be adopted by a majority of the stockholders of this compact in a regularly called and properly notified meeting.
The "Articles of Compact" numbered XI; all but the eighth article refer to the method of doing business, and are similar in their provisions to the by-laws of our incorporations of to-day. The eighth article touched vitally the editor's duties, and is as follows:
Art. 8. The press owned by or in connection with this association shall never be used by any party for the purpose of propagating sectarian principles or doctrines, nor for the discussion of exclusive party politics.
The Printing Association was jealous of the editorial control of the paper. Provision was made for amending all articles except the eighth. The shares of stock were $10 each, and article ten provides for the method of transferring the same; also the distribution of dividends an emergency that never occurred; and in that respect the experience of the first newspaper men of the Pacific Coast was not unlike that of some of their brethren of these later days. The name selected for their paper was the Oregon Spectator, and it was first issued at Oregon City on Thursday, February 5, 1846. The motto was "Westward the Star of Empire takes its Way." The printer was John Fleming, who came to Oregon in the immigration of 1844.
The size of the Spectator page at first was eleven and one half by seventeen inches, with four pages, four columns to the page, and was issued semimonthly. The first editor was Col. William G. T'Vault, a pioneer of 1845, who was then postmaster general of the Provisional Government. His editorial salary was at the rate of $300 a year. It is believed that he was of Scotch-Irish and French descent, and a native of Kentucky. He was a lawyer by profession, although it is said that he had had some editorial experience in Arkansas. While he was an uncompromising democrat of the Jeffersonian school, and never so happy as when promulgating his principles in the most positive way, the constitution of the Printing Association made it necessary that the editor should eschew politics. However well he may have tried to do this, his efforts evidently did not please the association, because in the issue of April 2, 1846, his valedictory appears.
The contents of the first issue of The Spectator are as follows:
First page: Organic laws of Oregon, as recommended by the legislative committee; an act to prevent the introduction, sale and distillation of ardent spirits, both certified to by John E. Long, secretary of the Provisional Government; an infallible remedy for lowness of spirits; good advice.
Second page: The editor's salutatory, defining the attitude of the paper; to correspondents, stating that no notice can be taken of anonymous communications; city government, saying that the time has arrived for a thorough organization, urging that it "dig up the stumps, grade the streets, tax dogs, prohibit hogs, and advertise in The Spectator;" calling on some of the "Old Settlers" to give an "account of the climate, soil, and productions of Oregon,' ' stating that this "would all be news to people away east in Missouri and other states;' an item deprecating controversies; announcement that Captain Knighton will give a ball on the 24th instant at the City Hotel; item calling attention to F. W. Pettygrove's stock of goods; appointments by the Governor Wm. G. T'Vault, prosecuting attorney, vice M. A. Ford, and H. M. Knighton, marshal, vice J. L. Meek, resigned; reference to the "Two-thirds law" of Illinois; item relating to a serious accident to Mr. Wallace of the Oregon Milling Company as a result of coming in contact with a circular saw; an item on "Slander;" communication from "New Emigrant," whose "heart's desire is," among other things, "that Oregon may be saved from intemperance, and that our beloved little colony may continue free, and become great and good;" communication by David Leslie, giving a sketch of the life of Rev. Jason Lee.
Third page: A number of clippings, among them Franklin's Advice to Editors; an original poem on "Love," signed "M. J. B."—Mrs. Margaret J. Bailey; announcement of the postmaster general "To Persons Wishing to Send Letters East;" ship news, giving "The arrivals and departure from Baker's Bay, Columbia River, since March 12, 1845," showing nine arrivals and eleven departures; "List of officers of H. B. M. sloop of war Modeste, now lying at Vancouver, Columbia River;" death notice, Miss Julia Ann Stratuff, aged about fourteen years: then advertisements as follows: "Mail Contracts to Let—Route No. 1: From Oregon City to Fort Vancouver, once in two weeks, by water. Route No. 2: From Oregon City to Hill's in Twality County; thence to A. J. Hembree's in Yam Hill County; thence to Andrew Smith's by Yam Hill County; thence to N. Ford's, Polk County; thence to Oregon Institute, Champoeg County; thence to Catholic Mission and Champoeg to Oregon City, once in two weeks, on horseback. The contractor will enter into bond and security, to be approved by the postmaster general;" signed by W. G. T'Vault. A. Lawrence Lovejoy, attorney and counsellor at law and solicitor in chancery; Masonic notice to secure a charter for a lodge the first on the Pacific Coast; signed by Joseph Hull, P. G. Stewart, and Wm. P. Dougherty. Notice of George Abernethy and Alanson Beers that they had bought the business of the Oregon Milling Company. Adminstrator's notice of estate of Ewing Young, signed by Lovejoy. City Hotel, H. M. Knighton, proprietor, who says "His table shall not be surpassed in the territory," and that those "who favor him with a call from the west side of the river, will receive horse ferriage free." "The Red House and Portland" heads an advertisement three and a half inches long of F. W. Pettygrove's general merchandise store. This is the first time anything appears showing approximately the date when Portland was so named. John Travers and William Glaser announce that they have begun manufacturing hats, and will take "wool, beaver, otter, raccoon, wild-cat, muskrat, and mink skins in exchange." Notice by Pettygrove to the effect that John B. Rutter, Astoria, is wanted to take charge of a box of medicine which was consigned to him from New York. Notice of Abernethy & Beers stating their terms for grinding "merchantable wheat." Notice by C. E. Pickett that he has town lots for sale on the lower part of his claim, "just at the foot of the Clackamas rapids." Announcement of The Spectator terms—$5 in advance; if not paid until the expiration of three months, $6.
Fourth page: Post office law of the Provisional Government, approved December 23, 1845; Constitution of the Printing Association; three clippings, one entitled "The Fall of Empires," the other about "Morse's Electro-Magnetic Telegraph," and the last from the St. Louis Democrat, speaking of an emigrating party of the father, mother, and twenty children. The editor says "Their destination we did not learn, but think it not improbable the old man is about settling a colony in Oregon."
Colonel T'Vault was a marked character in the early history of Oregon, and he made warm friends and bitter enemies. He was chosen a member of the legislature of the Provisional Government June 4, 1846. In June, 1858, he was elected a representative to the first territorial legislature, and was chosen speaker at the special session from May 16 to June 4, 1859. In 1851 he established an express line between Winchester, on the Umpqua River, to Yreka, California. In the years following he took an active part in the trying scenes of the Rogue River war, part of the time being a volunteer aid to Governor Joseph Lane. In 1855 he, in company with Messrs. Taylor and Blakely, established the Umpqua Gazette at Scottsburg, the first paper south of Salem, and moved it to Jacksonville soon after. The name was then changed to the Table Rock Sentinel, and it was first issued on November 24th. Soon after the paper was started it became noised abroad that T'Vault was tainted with abolitionism. This was too much for the stout-hearted old democrat, so he wrote a personal article over his own signature, denying in the most positive manner all sympathy for, or affiliation with, the abolition idea; and among other things he said that if "I thought there was one drop of abolition blood in my veins I would cut it out." That declaration was wholly satisfactory, and thereafter until the close of his life there was never any question as to his political faith. He was the principal editor of the paper, and his connection with it ceased in 1859, after the name had been changed to the Oregon Sentinel. His next editorial experience was in 1863, when he issued the Intelligencer in Jacksonville from the plant of the Civilian, then defunct. This enterprise failed in a few months, and was his last effort in journalism. He remained in Southern Oregon until the close of his life, having something of a law practice, and died from an attack of smallpox early in 1869.
At this point it is not out of place to give the personnel of the other members of the Printing Association as far as possible. James Willis Nesmith came to Oregon from Maine in 1843, at the age of twenty-three; in 1845 he was elected supreme judge of Oregon under the Provisional Government; in 1848, captain in the Cayuse Indian war; in 1853, captain in the Rogue-river Indian war; in 1855–1856 colonel in the Yakima Indian war; in 1857 he was appointed superintendent of Indian affairs for Oregon and Washington, and held that position two years; in 1860 he was a candidate for presidential elector on the Douglas democratic ticket; that fall he was elected United States senator; in 1873 he was elected a member of Congress. He filled every position with conspicuous ability. He died June 17, 1885.
John P. Brooks taught the first school of any kind in Oregon City, under the patronage of the late Sidney W. Moss, in the year 1844–45; when he came to Oregon is not known. In the late forties and early fifties he was in business at Oregon City. He died many years ago, date unknown.
George Abernethy was at the head of the Provisional Government. He was born in New York in 1807, and came to Oregon in 1840. He had much to do with large milling and mercantile enterprises, and died in 1877.
Robert Newell was a typical "mountain man," and spent many years of his early life on the frontier in trapping. He was born at Zanesville, Ohio, in 1807. He came to Oregon in 1840 and brought a wagon from Fort Hall to Doctor Whitman's mission—the first to arrive there, and he brought it on to the Willamette Valley, making it the first wagon in Western Oregon. He was at Champoeg on May 2, 1843, and voted for civil government. He died at Lewiston, Idaho, in 1869.
John H. Couch was born at Newburyport, Massachusetts, February 21, 1811. In 1840 be brought the brig Maryland into the Columbia River, and up the Willamette to Oregon City. He made a second trip to the Columbia in 1843, and soon after engaged in the mercantile business at Oregon City. In 1845 he located a donation land claim near the then townsite of Portland, all of which was included within the corporate limits of that city many years ago. He was the treasurer of the Provisional Government, and held a number of places of trust in the city of his adoption. As early as October, 1849, in company with Benjamin Stark, he did a banking business in Portland, in addition to general merchandising. He died in January, 1870.
John Fleming, the first printer of the Spectator, came to Oregon from Ohio. He was appointed postmaster in 1856, and held that office until 1869. He died at that place December 2, 1872, aged seventy-eight years.
In glancing through the pages of the Spectator numerous references are made to the primitive conditions then existing, some of which are here given.
As postmaster general Colonel T'Vault was compelled to conduct affairs on an economical basis. Fifty dollars was appropriated by the legislature of 1845 to establish a post office department. Accordingly, in February, 1846, post offices and postmasters were appointed in the several counties south of the Columbia River, and full instructions published concerning their respective duties. The rates between any Oregon post office and Weston, Missouri, were fifty cents for a single sheet. Nine months later the postmaster general declined further responsibility in the matter of mail service, stating that the mail had been carried for three quarters, but the receipts had been insufficient to pay for the transportation of the mail for one quarter.
In the Spectator of April 16, 1846, the name of Henry A. G. Lee appears as editor. He was the choice of the Printing Association at the beginning, but he wanted a salary of $600, and that was considered too high. At this date there were one hundred and fifty-five subscribers, but an editorial item says there ought to be five hundred in the existing population. Lee's connection with the paper ceased with the issue of August 6, 1846.
Mr. Lee deserves more than a passing mention. He was a native of Virginia, and descended from Richard Lee, founder of the Old Dominion family of that name. He was well educated and prepared himself for the ministry, but did not follow that profession because some doubts arose in his mind as to the inspiration of the Bible. He came to Oregon in 1843 and spent the first winter at Wai-il-et-pu. He was a man of much more than average ability, but very reticent when speaking of himself or family. In December, 1847, he assisted in raising the first company of volunteers to punish the Cayuse Indians for the murder of Dr. Marcus Whitman, his wife, and twelve others, and was elected captain. Soon after he was promoted to major, and a little later appointed peace commissioner. Not long after that he was chosen colonel of the regiment to succeed Col. Cornelius Gilliam, who lost his life by an accident, but returned his commission because he thought it should be given to Lieut. Col. James Waters. When the war was ended he was appointed superintendent of Indian affairs by Governor George Abernethy, and rendered good service in treating with the Indians. After that duty was performed he went to the California gold mines and was successful. Upon returning, he brought a stock of goods, and formed a copartnership with S. W. Moss, having already been married to his daughter. In the fall of 1850 he went to New York with a large sum of money, to buy more goods, and on his return trip he had an attack of the Panama fever, which caused his death. If he had lived to return he doubtless would have figured largely in the political affairs of the then young territory.
In the Spectator of July 9, 1846, there is a full account of the first 4th of July celebration in Oregon, and probably on the Pacific Coast. Thirteen regular toasts were given, and the last one is in these words: "The American ladies—accomplished, beautiful, and useful. If every Oregonian swain was possessed of one, we could exclaim, 'Oregon is safe under the Stars and Stripes.'" This was really true at the time, the treaty fully making Oregon a part of the United States having been signed June 15th preceding; but it was not known in Oregon until November 12th following, and then the news was brought by Benjamin Stark on a sailing vessel from Sandwich Islands. The oration was delivered by Peter H. Burnett, a pioneer of 1843, afterward the first governor of California, elected as such by the vote of Oregonians who had gone with him to the mines, and who held the balance of power there.
On September 17, 1846, reference is made to a memorial prepared by Capt. George Wilkes on the subject of a national railroad between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, presented to Congress in December, 1845, asking the legislature to indorse it.
From August 6th to October 1, 1846, John Fleming, the printer, edited the Spectator. Then George L. Curry, fresh from Saint Louis by way of the plains, having come by the southern route through the famous Cow Creek Canyon, being with the first immigrant party that ever entered the Oregon territory from that direction, was installed as editor. Among other things he proposed to do was to give the paper a "firm and consistent American tone." In this number the war with Mexico is foreshadowed.
In the issue of September 5th, Mr. Curry speaks in high terms of the many conditions of Oregon society, and among other things says:
He admits, however, that the people may be behind hand in the matter of good clothes. To offset this they are congratulated upon having but few real loafers among them.
We feel unfeigned pleasure in announcing to the world that the social, moral, political, and religious state of society in Oregon is at least as elevated and enlightened as can be witnessed in any of the territorial or frontier settlements east of the Rocky Mountains.
For the next eleven months but little is known about the paper, except that Mr. Curry was the editor. The printer was changed, John Fleming retiring, and N. W. Colwell, who also came in 1845, taking his place.
In the issue of October 15, 1846, it is announced that a roll of the Spectator's subscribers was called, but as they did not answer paid, according to the necessary requirements in every well regulated newspaper office, the sufferings of all connected with the establishment were made intolerable.
On September 2, 1847, Mr. Curry apologizes for the lack of editorial matter by saying that he had gone to climb Mount Hood. Two weeks later it is apparent that the trip was not successful. At this time the printer was W. P. Hudson, who came to Oregon in 1846, Mr. Colwell having retired. He had been the printer for several months, and in addition to printing the paper, printed a spelling book, the first English book issued on the Pacific Coast. This bore the date of February 1, 1847. During the fall of that year Mr. Hudson printed an almanac—the first on the Pacific Coast—for the year 1848. This was compiled by Henry H. Everts. Through this source it is learned that there were eight counties in the territory—Clackamas, Champoeg, Tualatin, Yamhill, Polk, Clatsop, Vancouver, and Lewis—their area being all of the territory now included in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and those parts of Montana and Wyoming west of the Rocky Mountains. This was a publication of twenty-four pages, five by seven inches, and in addition to the twelve usual calendar pages and remarks on astronomical matters, it contained a list of the officers of the Provisional Government, the members of the legislature, lists of officers for each county, times and places of holding courts, a list of the officers of the United States in Oregon, and in addition the following interesting information: Public debt, October 1, 1847, $3,243.31; population, same date, about six thousand; vote for governor on the first Monday in June, 1847, one thousand and seventy-four; immigration now beginning to arrive, about three thousand; estimated annual value of imports and exports, about $130,000; estimated amount of wheat raised in the territory for the last two years, about one hundred and fifty thousand bushels each year. After the calendar pages the following appears: Summary of the Mexican war; Agricultural; Table of Important Scientific Discoveries and Inventions from 2224 b. c. to 1844 a. d.; a few paragraphs upon the value of correct habits; a short poem in blank verse on "Charity;" and an eight-line rhyme entitled a "Receipt for a Wife."
Mr. Hudson went to the gold mines in the fall of 1848. He soon found a rich gulch from which he dug $21,000. He then returned to Oregon, but did not remain long. He took passage by sailing vessel for San Francisco in December, 1850, and died at sea while on the way thither.
While not strictly connected with the newspaper history of Oregon, it is not out of place to give a brief account of the spelling book above referred to.
It was an abridgment of the old Webster's Elementary Spelling Book, and was about two thirds the size of the original, the long words and quaint illustrations in the back being omitted. As this was practically a foreign country at that time, the printer was not particularly sensitive about violating the copyright law. After this book was printed the question of binding became a serious one, there being no binder in the settlement, so far as known. With the immigration of 1846 there came a bookbinder, who some time after his arrival went to Oregon City. His name was Carlos W. Shane, and he had learned his trade in the Methodist Book Concern, Cincinnati, where he had been employed a number of years prior to coming to Oregon. Instinctively gravitating toward the printing office, he discovered the unbound sheets and was awarded the job of binding them. Improvising such implements as he needed, with the crude material at hand, he bound up the edition, numbering eight hundred copies, which was soon absorbed by the primitive schools then existing. For years effort has been made to secure a copy of this book, but so far without success. I have, however, obtained a fragment of the book, probably twenty pages. These I found in a farmhouse garret near Oregon City, about eight years ago, where it had been placed, doubtless, by the original owner of the place, the late M. M. McCarver, a pioneer of 1843, with other old documents, more than forty years before. More than a dozen years ago the whereabouts of a perfect copy was discovered, but upon further investigation it proved that this book, a number of early newspaper files, a lot of miscellaneous letters, all of undoubted historic value, had been considered "worthless trash,' and burned. Mr. Shane taught a number of the very early schools in Clackamas County, was something of a rhymester, and a frequent contributor of verse as well as prose to the press of the early days. He was a man of fine clerical ability, and for many years followed conveyancing. He died at Vancouver, Washington, in 1901.
In due time the censorship exercised by the printing association over his utterances on the editorial pages of the Spectator caused Mr. Curry to resign his position early in 1848.
Mr. Curry was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on July 2, 1820. From 1824 to 1829 he lived with his parents in Caracas, South America. On returning to the United States, the family settled in Boston. At the age of eleven he was apprenticed to a jeweler. One of his fellow-workmen was the late Hon. William D. Kelley, of Pennsylvania. All spare moments were employed in study and reading. He developed literary tastes quite early, and read original poems and delivered addresses before the Mechanics' Apprentice Library in Boston, of which he was a member and president for two years. He became a resident of Saint Louis in 1843, where he formed an acquaintance with Joseph M. Field, the actor and manager, father of Miss Kate Field, and with him published the Reveille. In 1846 he started to Oregon, arriving at Oregon City August 30th. After leaving the Spectator he bought about eighty pounds of type from the Catholic missionaries and determined to start an opposition paper.
It was difficult for Mr. Curry to decide upon a name, and he sought advice from Peter G. Stewart, a personal friend. "Why," said the latter, "since you don't want to be muzzled, why not call it the Free Press?" The suggestion pleased Mr. Curry, and the name was adopted. The motto was the following:
"Here shall the Press the people's rights maintain,
Unawed by influence, and unbribed by gain."
Having no press he caused one to be made, mainly out of wood—a rude affair. The type, having been used to print the French language, had but few letter w's. The editor had to write without double u's, but the country and its inhabitants were too weird and wild and wonderful, and his own fancy too warm, and his ways too winning for him not to be willing to wield a pen as free and untrammeled as were his surroundings; so he whittled a number of w's out of hard wood to supply the deficiency. This feature gave the paper an unique appearance, and was really one of its attractions. The first issue of this paper was in March, 1848. It contained four pages, seven and one half by fifteen inches, two columns to the page. During this month Mr. Curry was married to Miss Chloe Boone, daughter of Col. Alphonso Boone, a great grandson of Daniel Boone. In October, 1848, the paper stopped, mainly because of the rush of people to the mines. In 1853 Mr. Curry was appointed secretary of the territory by President Pierce, and soon became acting governor. He was appointed governor in November, 1854, and held that office until 1859, when the state government was formed. It was during his administration that the Yakima Indian war of 1855-56 was fought. On January 1, 1861, he became a partner and coeditor with S. J. McCormick in the Portland Daily Advertiser, and continued that relation until the paper suspended about two years later. The Advertiser was the second daily in Portland and was issued by S. J. McCormick on May 31, 1859. After the Advertiser died Mr. Curry remained in private life until he died on July 28, 1878, aged fifty-eight years.
The earliest perfect copy of the Oregon Free Press that is known bears the date of August 26, 1848. Its contents are as follows:Page one: Comparisons between the London and Paris daily press. This shows the largest circulation of a newspaper in London to be twenty-nine thousand and in Paris, thirty -three thousand. The price of the Paris dailies runs from $7.25 to $21; the London Times is nearly $32 per annum; California exports and imports; an article on "Poverty;' general news items.
Page two: Local news items about Oregon, exports to Sandwich Islands, burning of Indian houses, a stabbing affray, a communication relating to the distribution of arms and ammunition by the Catholic missionaries among the Indians, report of a meeting preliminary to organizing a medical society; latest foreign intelligence by way of a paper from the City of Mexico, announcing among other things, the escape of Louis Philippe, and news from The Dalles, inquiring into the reason why so nftich ammunition is being distributed by priests among the Indians. Then follows the advertisements: Notice is given that a meeting will be held at Lafayette to organize an association to protect land claims; John Cooper says he is about to start overland to California with pack animals; Holderness & Company are ready to pay cash for produce; F. W. Pettygrove & Company, at Oregon City, Portland, and Champoeg plead for business the company being A. E. Wilson and David McLoughlin.
Page four: An original poem, "A Poor Man's Thoughts;" three miscellaneous items; notice of W. B. Chatheld as administrator of Joel Wilcox; Couch and Crosby's announcement that they have just received a stock of new goods at their stores in Oregon City and Portland; the appeal of H. Clark for business on the plea that he has opened a new store on Main street, Oregon City; the proclamation of S. W. Moss that his Main Street Hotel is the largest and most commodious public house in Oregon, "where the public are entertained free of charge, because the proprietor always takes pay in hand;" the announcement of Kilborn, Lawton & Company, as commission merchants; C. L. Ross, proprietor of the "New York Store," San Francisco; P. G. Stewart, clock and watchmaker, the first in Oregon; and the medical card of Doctor Carpenter.
On February 10, 1848, the Spectator was enlarged to twenty-four columns and Aaron E. Wait, a native of Massachusetts, born on December 13, 1813, who had arrived the previous September, became the editor, having been employed by Governor Abernethy. He desired to make the paper a medium of communication acceptable to all, of whatever political or sectarian preference. By this time the rule of the Printing Association had been modified to some extent. Mr. Wait edited a democratic paper in Michigan in 1844, during the exciting political campaign of that year, and had the power of quickly adapting himself to circumstances—an indispensable requirement in newspaper work. The first news from the democratic national convention in that eventful year gave the names of Hon. Mr. Blank and Hon. Mr. Blank as the successful nominees. Mr. Wait wrote the accustomed editorial congratulating the people upon the ability of the chosen standard bearers, and promising his heartiest support and placing the names at the masthead. After the paper had gone to press the news came that Polk and Dallas had secured the nominations. Mr. Wait hurried to the office, caused the latter names to be inserted, and the press was started again. What he had written in the first place answered for the last candidates as well.
In those early days it was as common to slur Oregon weather as it is nowadays, for, on December 14th, Editor Wait takes exception to it, and, among other things, says: "For the year ending November 30th there have been 240 clear days, 25 days on which it rained or snowed all day, and 101 days on which it rained, hailed, snowed, or was cloudy part of the day."
The only exchanges of the Spectator at this time were one at Honolulu, and two small papers in California, one in San Francisco and the other at Monterey, which were brought semi-occasionally by vessels. Papers and letters arrived from the "States" once a year. Thus, it may be seen, that an editor in those days must have been a man of resources.
On September 7th the Spectator suspended, the printer, John Fleming, going to the mines. Publication was resumed on October 12th, with S. Bentley, printer. At this date the editor apologizes as follows:
The Spectator, after a temporary sickness, greets its patrons, and hopes to serve them faithfully, and as heretofore, regularly. That "gold fever," which has swept about three thousand of the officers, lawyers, physicians, farmers, and mechanics of Oregon, from the plains of Oregon into the mines of California, took away our printer also hence the temporary non-appearance of the Spectator.
In 1848 Judge Wait drew the deed by which Francis W. Pettygrove conveyed the Portland townsite of six hundred and forty acres to Daniel H. Lownsdale, the consideration being $5,000 in leather.
With the issue of February 22, 1849, Mr. Wait's connection with the paper ceased. During the Cayuse war, 1847–48, Mr. Wait was assistant commissary general. Prior to leaving Massachusetts he had studied law, and was admitted to the bar in Michigan in 1841. At the first election after Oregon became a state—1859—he was elected one of the judges of the supreme court, and was chief justice for four years. At the close of his official career he resumed his law practice and continued until he acquired a competency, when he retired, although still retaining an active interest in public affairs, and frequently contributing to the press. He lived to the advanced age of eighty-five, and died in 1898.
Soon after Mr. Wait's connection with the Spectator was ended, it suspended publication. On October 4, 1849, it again appeared with Rev. Wilson Blain, a clergyman of the United Presbyterian Church, as editor, and George B. Goudy, printer. On February 7, 1850, the paper was reduced to sixteen columns on account of a shortage in the paper supply. On April 18, 1850, Robert Moore, then proprietor of Linn City, opposite Oregon City, became owner, Blain being retained as editor. In this issue he says:
We find the opinion that Oregon should be immediately erected into a state much more prevalent than we had anticipated, * * and we feel impelled to warmly urge it on public attention. * * Time was when Oregon enjoyed a large share of public attention, * * but things have greatly changed in the last two years. Oregon has passed almost entirely into the shade. * * We rarely see Oregon mentioned in the papers received from the States, while California, Deseret, and New Mexico engrossed a very considerable part of public attention.
On July 11th the size was increased to twenty columns and on July 25th to twenty-four columns. In this issue appears a prospectus of The Oregon Statesman. After stating what it is going to be in religion, in morals, and in politics, which it says will be democratic, the prospectus goes on to say that "The Statesman will be 116 inches larger than The Spectator," and places the subscription price at the lowest mark—$7 per annum, and $4 for six months. It was to be published weekly at Oregon City by Henry Russell and A. W. Stock well. The Spectator of August 8th contains the announcement that a whig journal—The Oregonian—is to be published at Portland by T. J. Dryer, a "stump speaker of power and a pungent writer." On September 5th Blain ended his career as editor.
Mr. Blain was born in Ross County, Ohio, February 28, 1813. He was graduated at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, in 1835. He completed the full course of study at the Associate Reformed Theological Seminary at Allegheny, Pennsylvania, was licensed to preach by the first presbytery of Ohio on April 18, 1838, and was ordained by the presbytery of Chillicothe, Ohio, October 17, 1839. He had pastoral charge of the congregation at Hebron, Indiana, until May 15, 1847, when he began preparing for the journey to Oregon as a missionary. He started on May 8, 1848, and arrived at Oregon City on November 29th. Soon afterwards he organized a small church—the first of his denomination in Oregon. On June 6, 1849, he was elected to the upper branch of the first territorial legislature. In November, 1850, Mr. Blain removed to Union Point, Linn County, and organized a church over which he was installed pastor in 1853. He was a prime mover in the organization of the United Presbyterian Church there. He established an academy at Union Point, in which he was manager and teacher until 1856. These exacting duties, in connection with his ministry, injured his health, and he died on February 22, 1861.
On September 12, the Spectator was first issued weekly with D. J. Schnebly, as editor, and the subscription price raised to $7 per annum.
On September 26th the paper was again reduced to sixteen columns, and the editor says:
This is a matter of perplexity to us and a great disappointment to our subscribers; but it is a matter over which we have no control. A large supply is expected soon, as it has been seven months on the way from New York.
On October 17th the former size is resumed, and the names of John Fleming and T. F. McElroy appear as printers; and on the 31st the editor, in acknowledging the gift of a chair, says that it is the "first one that has been in the sanctum for seven weeks, and that the donors have a few more left at the rate of $30 per dozen."
On November 28th there apppeared an advertisement for a railroad from "Milton and St. Helens to LaFayette," and the enterprise is referred to as a "Brilliant Chance for Investment," and in the opinion of "competent judges" the cost is estimated at $500,000. The advertisement goes on to say that "From the unusual amount of stock taken abroad, and from the fact that every possible arrangement has been made for its speedy completion, it is confidently believed that the work will be finished in six months." The advertisement is signed by W. H. Tappan, St. Helens, and Crosby & Smith, Milton. An "N. B." is added to the notice in which it is stated, in italics, that "It is almost useless to add that the terminus of this road should be at a point that can be reached with safety by large vessels at any season and at any stage of the river" a thrust at the pretensions of the village of Portland to be a commercial point.
Beginning with Vol. VI, No. 1, September 9, 1851, Mr. Schnebly became owner of the Spectator. In November following he secured C. P. Culver as associate editor. At this time T. F. McElroy and C. W. Smith were the printers. A few weeks later T. D. Watson and G. D. R. Boyd became the printers. In the issue of November 25th Mr. Schnebly complains bitterly because there is only a semimonthly mail between Oregon City and Portland. On February 3, 1852, the Spectator became for the first time a distinctively political journal, and espoused the cause of the whig party. On March 16, 1852, it was suspended, and did not resume business until August 19, 1853. After this date the paper was not well supported, and gradually it grew weaker and weaker, and finally was sold by Mr. Schnebly to C. L. Goodrich, late in 1854, and was permanently suspended in March, 1855.
Soon afterwards the plant was sold to W. L. Adams, a pioneer of 1847, for $1,200. He used it in starting the Oregon City Argus, which was issued on April 21, 1855, and was the first distinctively republican paper in Oregon, if not on the Pacific Coast. Prior to this time he had become well known as a teacher, and as a forcible political writer and speaker. He wrote in the Oregonian over the signature of "Junius," and was the author of a locally famous political satire entitled "Brakespear: or Treason, Stratagems, and Spoils." This was published in the Oregonian of February 14 and 21, and March 6 and 13, 1852, and afterwards printed in pamphlet form, and illustrated with a number of rude cartoons the first attempt of the kind in the territory which added spice to the text.
The leading democrats of that day, among them Judge Matthew P. Deady, Judge O. C. Pratt, Asahel Bush, editor of the Oregon Statesman, John Orvis Waterman, editor of the Oregon Weekly Times, Col. William M. King, and Gen. Joseph Lane, were mercilessly caricatured. All were veiled under fictitious names, but the peculiarities and characteristics of each one were so aptly described that the disguises did not hide their identity.
Mr. Adams was born in Painesville, Ohio, on February 5, 1821, both parents emigrating from Vermont to Ohio when it was a wilderness. On his father's side he is connected with the Adams' family of Massachusetts, and his mother, whose name was Allen, descended from Ethan Allen of Ticonderoga fame. He went to school at the academy in Milan, Ohio, for a time, and obtained through his own efforts a classical education at Bethany College, Virgina. He came to Oregon in 1848, and the first thing he did, after locating a claim in Yamhill County, was to join with his neighbors in building a schoolhouse, wherein he taught the children of the settlers during the following winter.
As a master of cutting invective he was rarely equalled and never surpassed. His proficiency in this direction, together with similiar qualifications on the part of two of his territorial contemporaries, gave rise to what was locally known as the "Oregon Style." He was fearless and audacious to the fullest degree, had the pugnacity of a bulldog, never happier than when lampooning his opponents, and his efforts were untiring. He was one of the leading spirits in organizing the republican party in Oregon, and on February 11, 1857, at the "Free State Republican Convention," held in Albany, was appointed chairman of a committee of three to prepare an address to the people of the Territory of Oregon. As a reward for diligent efforts as a speaker and writer in the arduous campaign closing on November 6, 1860, by which Oregon was carried for Lincoln by a small plurality, he received the appointment of collector of customs, being Lincoln's first appointee for Oregon. He then retired from the Argus, but during his residence in Astoria edited the Marine Gazette for a time, and ever since has been a frequent contributor to the press of the state. In 1868–69 he made a trip to South America, and late in the latter year returned to the United States and delivered a series of lectures. In 1873 he studied medicine in Philadelphia, and 1875 began its practice in Portland. A few years later he removed to Hood River, where he still lives, now in his eighty-third year, as full of fire and fight as he was forty years ago.
Before passing from the Argus, mention should be made of his foreman and all round right-hand man David Watson Craig. He was born near Maysville, Kentucky. July 25, 1830. His mother was Euphemia Early, a second cousin of Jubal Early, who became a noted Confederate general during the civil war. His parents removed to Palmyra, Missouri, in 1839, and to Hannibal, Missouri, in 1841. On May 25th, that year, he became an apprentice on the Hannibal Journal. One of the typesetters was Orion Clemens, a brother of Samuel L. Clemens, better known by his pen name, "Mark Twain." (Mark, himself, learned the printing business in the same office.) Serving an apprenticeship of four and a half years, young Craig went to Illinois and worked at Quincy, Peoria, and Springfield, remaining at the latter place four years, as an employé of the Illinois State Journal, edited by Simeon Francis, and served in various capacities as compositor, reporter, editorial writer, and telegraph operator. While in Hannibal, Craig began reading law, and all spare moments in Springfield were thus employed, part of the time in Lincoln & Herndon's office. Indue time he passed a rigid examination, B. S. Edwards, John T. Stewart, and Abraham Lincoln being his examining committee, and was licensed on September 15, 1850, the license being signed by S. H. Treat, chief justice, and Lyman Trumbull, associate justice. He practiced law as occasion offered, and performed editorial work on the Journal until the latter part of 1852. He then went to Washington, spending the winter, and in the spring of 1853 started for Oregon via the Isthmus. He remained at Panama a few months, acting as foreman of the Panama Daily Star. He soon went to San Francisco, but only remained a little while, when he started for Oregon, and arrived in the Columbia Kiver November 25, 1853. He soon found his way to Salem, and sought employment of Asahel Bush, then proprietor of the Oregon Statesman, on which paper he worked for a short time. Unable to get permanent employment with Mr. Bush, he had to seek other fields, and hence began teaching school. It was while thus engaged that Mr. Adams sent for him to act as his foreman, in the spring of 1855. He became proprietor of the Argus on April 16, 1859, retaining Mr. Adams as editor until October 24, 1863, at which time the Statesman, mainly owned by Bush and James W. Nesmith, the latter United States senator, and the Argus were consolidated, and the publication continued under the name of The Statesman, by an incorporation known as the Oregon Printing and Publishing Company, composed of J. W. P. Huntington, Benjamin Simpson, Rufus Mallory, Chester N. Terry, George H. Williams, and D. W. Craig, with Clark P. Crandall as editor. In time Craig acquired a majority of the stock, and in 1866 sold the paper to Benjamin Simpson, and his sons, Sylvester C. and Samuel L. Simpson, became the editors. Simpson afterwards sold to W. A. McPherson and William Morgan, the owners of the Unionist, and on December 31, 1866, it was merged into that paper, the name of the Statesman being dropped. Eighteen months later Huntington acquired control of the Unionist, and published the same up to the time of his death, in the spring of 1869, when the plant was bought at administrator's sale by S. A. Clarke, and the name The Statesman again adopted. In the merging of the Argus into the Statesman in 1863. an extra plant was acquired, most of which, aside from the press, was sold to an association of printers in Portland, who began publishing the Daily Union, with W. Lair Hill as editor. The press was acquired by H.R. Kincaid, who began publishing the State Journal, Eugene, in December, 1863; and in this office, to-day, may be found the original press of the Spectator, not much the worse for its almost constant use since February 5, 1846 fifty-six years. Thus may be seen the connection between the Spectator of February 5, 1846, with the Oregon Statesman of to-day.
Before taking up the story of the next paper, in chronological order, a few words may be said about the first election tickets printed in Oregon. In a letter recently discovered, dated "Oregon City, Willamette Falls, O.T., 27th June, 1845," written to "Samuel Wilson, Esq., Reading, Cincinnati, Ohio, Politeness of Dr. White," it being carried by Dr. Elijah White from Oregon City to the nearest post office, which was in Missouri, J. W. Nesmith, in speaking of the supreme judge of Oregon, says: "I received the nomination of the Champoeg convention and ran for the office at the election which took place on the first Tuesday of the present month, at which I received the unanimous vote of the whole territory, happening to be on all the tickets, two of which I send you enclosed, which were printed for Champoeg County. They are the first tickets printed in Oregon. You should preserve them as curiosities." Now, the question is, where were these tickets printed? Not at Oregon City, because the Spectator plant had not yet arrived; probably at the mission press at Lapwai, on the Clearwater, about four hundred miles distant by the most direct route of that day.
The second and third papers in the Territory of Oregon, the Free Press and the Oregon American and Evangelical Unionist, having already been referred to, I will pass to the fourth. This was the Western Star, first issued at Milwaukie by Lot Whitcomb, November 21, 1850, with John Orvis Waterman and William Davis Carter, printers, the first of the two being the editor. These young men were thorough printers, and learned their trade in Montpelier, Vermont, from whence they came to California in 1849, and to Oregon early in 1850. Lot Whitcomb was a native of Vermont, and the founder of Milwaukie.
This paper was twenty-four by thirty-four inches in size, with twenty-four columns, with a good assortment of display type for advertising and job work, and was democratic in politics. In May, 1851, Portland having begun to lead Milwaukie in growth, the paper was moved away from the latter place between two days, during the last week of the month, whereat Whitcomb and the Milwaukie people generally were much incensed. At the time it was charged that Waterman and Carter stole the plant, but as a matter of fact, Whitcomb, owing his printers more than he could conveniently pay, had given them a bill of sale of the whole establishment, and they had a right to do as they pleased with it. They took it away at night on a flatboat to save time, avoid an open collision, and all further controversy. In this connection it may be of interest to note that with The Star, Dr. Oliver W. Nixon, for more than twenty-five years past the literary editor of the Inter-Ocean, Chicago, began his newspaper career, by assisting in the midnight adventure above described. He was an Oregon pioneer of 1850, and in 1851 taught school at Milwaukie. Afterwards he was purser on the steamer Lot Whitcomb.
The Star of March 19, 1851, states that a paper is about to be started at Salem by Joseph S. Smith, to be called the Salem Recorder. On the 27th No. 1, Vol. I, of the Oregon Statesman was received, and in commenting upon it Editor Waterman says: "We should judge from the style of the leaders that the editor had been dining on pickles and case knives since the adjournment of the legislature."
After going to Portland the name Western Star was dropped and on June 5, 1851, the paper came out under the name of Oregon Weekly Times. Waterman and Carter were the proprietors until June 13, 1853, when Carter sold to Waterman, who continued it until May 29, 1854. He then sold to Messrs. W. D. Carter and R. D. Austin, but retained editorial control until November 8, 1856. Some time after that Mr. Waterman was elected probate judge of Multnomah County, or Washington, as it was then, and later he practiced law for a time. The closing years of his life were spent in school work, sometimes in teaching and sometimes as county superintendent. He died at Cascades, Skamania County, Washington, a number of years ago.
The Times continued to be democratic, with Carter and Austin proprietors. In May, 1859, Carter sold his interest to Austin and retired from journalism. He continued work as a journeyman printer until December, 1864, when he established a small job office, which he sold five years later to the writer. He worked as a journeyman about twenty-five years. Then advancing age compelled him to retire, and he died in this city in 1898.
Austin continued the publication of the Times, and on December 19, 1860, started a daily, the third in Portland. In 1861 he made it a union paper, supporting the nominees of that party composed of the republican and Douglas democrats. Austin was not a man given to "diligence in business.' He was a "good-fellow," hail-fellow well met with all, and was passionately fond of playing the violin. On this account he was much in demand at balls and parties. This caused more or less inattention to business, and by the early part of 1864 the paper suspended. Mr. Austin died in Portland about nineteen years ago. Among the editors of the Times, in its later years, were Henry Shipley, E. C. Hibben, A. S. Gould, W. N. Walton, the late A. C. Gibbs, afterward the war governor of Oregon, and W. Lair Hill, who became a prominent attorney, and is now a resident of San Francisco.
The fifth paper in Oregon was The Weekly Oregonian. In June, 1850, W. W. Chapman and Stephen Coffin, leading citizens of Portland, then a village of a few hundred people, and vitally interested in everything pertaining to its well being, had occasion to visit San Francisco on business, and among other things to arrange, if possible, for the publication of a newspaper. About July 4th they met Thomas J. Dryer, at that time city editor of the California Courier, and disclosed their plans to him. He, having a desire to engage in journalism on his own account, listened favorably to their proposals. Accordingly, a plan of operations was agreed upon, and a secondhand plant belonging to the Alta, the press being a Ramage No. 913, was secured and shipped on the bark Keoka on October 8th, and arrived in the Columbia River in the latter part of November following. Before leaving San Francisco an order was sent to New York for a new plant throughout, to be shipped direct to Portland. The name—The Weekly Oregonian—was suggested by Colonel Chapman. The paper was issued on Wednesday, December 4, 1850, and Stephen Coffin, Col. W. W. Chapman, A. P. Dennison, and W. W. Baker took the first paper by the four corners and lifted it from the press. The first number was distributed through the town by Arthur and Thomas, sons of Col. Chapman, and Henry C. Hill, a stepson of Stephen Coffin. Colonel Chapman had a man to go on horseback and deliver the first number at various points along the trail as far south as Corvallis, then Marysville, and to cross the river and return on the east side. Thus was The Oregonian given to the world. A. M. Berry was the first printer, and Henry Hill the first "printer's devil."
Mr. Dryer was born in Canandaigua County, New York, January 10, 1808, and was the second son of Aaron and Lucinda Dryer. His paternal grandfather was a soldier of the Revolution, and his father served in the war of 1812. His mother was a daughter of Isaac Lewis, who served under Washington. The family removed to Ohio, near Cincinnati, in 1818. Thomas stayed there until 1825, when he returned to New York and remained until 1841. During the next seven years he had a mail contract, shipped beef to New Orleans, and had an interest in a steam laundry in Cincinnati, each in turn, the latter being about the only industry that he found profitable. In 1848 he went to California to mine for gold, but incidentally became connected with the Courier, before mentioned, as a reporter, where he was found as previously stated. Mr. Dryer was a whig, and an aggressive and spirited writer, with a dash of audacity and fearlessness which were well suited to pioneer journalism, besides being a born controversialist and an attractive public speaker. His attacks on democracy by pen and voice were bold, persistent, and denunciatory to a marked degree. The democratic journals, particularly the Statesman, replied in kind, and thus considerable excitement was created throughout the territory among the partisans of the respective journals when they made their appearance from week to week. The new plant of The Oregonian, before referred to, arrived early in April and the printed page of the paper was enlarged from fourteen and three eighths by nineteen inches to fifteen and one quarter by twenty and three quarter inches. The new Washington hand press superseded the Ramage, and that machine, with the old plant of The Oregonian, was bought in 1852 by T. F. McElroy and J. W. Wiley, and taken around on the schooner Mary Taylor to Olympia and used in printing the Columbian, the first newspaper north of the Columbia River, and was issued at "Olympia, Puget's Sound, O. T., Saturday, September 11, 1852."
The editor, in making an appeal for subscribers, says:
The Olympian—the pioneer newspaper west of the mountains between the daddy of Oregon waters and Kamchatka (we don't expect any subscribers there, however, as they don't "cumtux" our possible</noinclude>"wau-wau"). Walk up, gentlemen—a few chances for subscription left. Only five dollars a year—"And a-going, and a-going!" Ten copies, did you say?—Thank you, sir. Sale closed. Be patient, gentlemen. Open again to-morrow morning at 8 o'clock, precisely.
The paper was neutral in politics and religion. At the end of six months Editor Wiley says that he "will venture the assertion that not another newspaper in the United States—nay, not in the world—that has existed for six months with more economy than has the Columbian. * * We commenced its publication without a subscriber and without a dollar. Since that time we have 'kept bach,done our own cooking, our own washing, our own mending, cut our own wood, made our own fires, washed our own dishes, swept out our own office, made up our own beds, composed our own editorials out of the cases—writing paper being a luxury which we have been deprived of—and done our own presswork. Now we have three hundred and fifty subscribers. * * What has been accomplished for the Territory of Columbia—or rather what has Northern Oregon accomplished for herself—during the last six months? History—in the future history of the State of Columbia may be found an answer."
Wiley withdrew from the paper on March 13, 1853. On March 26th J. J. Beebe appears as a partner with McElroy, but retired on July 13th. In the first number of the second volume the name of Mat. K. Smith appears as editor, and he conducted it as a whig journal, until November 26th. In the next issue the names of J. W. Wiley and A. M. Berry appear as proprietors, and the name is changed to the Washington Pioneer, with Wiley as editor, who says that as long as he has anything to do with it it will "be a straight-out, radical democratic journal." In the issue of February 4, 1854, the name is changed to Pioneer and Democrat, and it is printed on a new press with new type, and R. L. Doyle taken in as partner.
In making this change the paper was enlarged by the addition of one fourth of an inch to the length of the printed page—a fact which the editor emphasizes. At this point the old Ramage press was practically laid aside.
In July, 1861, the manager of The Press, Victoria, British Columbia, conceived the idea that it would be good business policy to send a man to Olympia to print a sheet containing the latest war news, and have it ready to send by each steamer leaving Olympia for Victoria, thus enabling The Press management to place the latest news before its readers, upon arrival of the steamer, without having to wait to print it. This sheet was called the Overland Press, and it was in charge of J. R. Watson and A. M. Poe, and for a few weeks was printed on the press of the Washington Standard. In August, however, the old Ramage was secured and used for a year or more.
In 1863 Watson took it to Seattle, and printed the first paper there, the Seattle Gazette. A little later, some time in 1865, it was used in printing the Intelligencer, started by S. L. Maxwell, for the first time. Some time afterwards it was used in printing the first daily in Seattle, which, it is believed, was the first in the Territory of Washington. Twenty years thereafter, or thereabouts, it began to be considered an historical relic, and was stored in a room in the University of Washington, Seattle, and there it is today.
When the press came to the Pacific Coast is a question not yet fully settled. The writer is of the opinion, however, after most careful research, based largely on printed evidence in his possession, dated as early as 1852, that it was sent from New York to Mexico, thence to Monterey, California, in 1834, where it was used by the Spanish governor for a number of years in printing proclamations, etc., and on August 15, 1846, by Rev. Walter Cotton and R. Semple in printing the Californian, the first newspaper in California. Late in 1846 it was sent from Monterey to San Francisco, and used in printing the Star, the first paper in that city, which was issued in January, 1847. The interests of the Californian and the Star were combined, and in the fall of 1848 the first number of the Alta California was issued with the plant.
If the foregoing position is true, and there seems to be no reasonable doubt of it, from the evidence now in hand, the press in question was the first in Monterey, the first in San Francisco, the first in Portland, the first in Olympia, and the first in Seattle.
On December 16, 1854, George B. Goudy became a partner in the publication of the Pioneer and Democrat, and on August 10, 1855, sole owner. In 1857 he sold to Edward Furste, who retained J. W. Wiley as editor until May 14, 1858. On May 30, 1860, Furste sold to James Lodge, who continued to publish the paper until May 31, 1861. After the first year of this paper's life its publishers had the territorial printing, and fortunes were made out of it. The change of the national administration in 1860 cut off that source of revenue, and it gently expired without an apology.
Notwithstanding Mr. Dryer's capacity to work hard, it was difficult for him to make ends meet. With considerable ability as an editor, he was also in frequent demand as a public speaker. This left him but little time to attend to business matters, which, as every one knows who has had any experience in newspaper business, is largely a matter of small details. This feature of journalism was wholly distasteful to him.
About this time, November, 1853, a beardless youth of seventeen appeared on the scene. He had finished his journey across the plains a few weeks before, and was seeking employment. He had been taught by his father to set type at the age of twelve, and hence had five years' experience. He had applied at the printing office at Oregon City and at The Times office in Portland without success. The job of bartender had been offered him, but this was not to his taste. Finally, he called at The Oregonian office one morning and asked for work. Mr. Dryer was rather brusque in his manner, and said, "What can you do?" "Set type," was the reply. "Well, see what you can do with that," said Mr. Dryer, handing him a composing stick and a piece of reprint copy, and directing him to a case. The article was soon set and proof taken. Mr. Dryer was surprised to find it correct, and at once regarded the youth with favor. He said, "Have you any money?" "No," was the reply. Tossing the boy a $5 coin he was bidden to call again. This he did and Mr. Dryer soon found him a most industrious workman—always on hand, and willing to work early and late. Before many months elapsed this young man was advanced to the position of foreman. Soon after that he overhauled the subscription books and began introducing more careful business methods. Thus it was that Henry L. Pittock became connected with The Oregonian.
On November 8, 1856, he and Elisha Treat Gunn, an accomplished printer who came from Connecticut, and had worked on the paper a number of years, were admitted to partnership by Mr. Dryer. This continued until November 20, 1858, when Pittock and Gunn withdrew. On November 24, 1860, Mr. Dryer transferred his interest to Mr. Pittock, but retained editorial control until January 12, 1861. This is how it came to pass that Henry L. Pittock became the owner of The Oregonian. In recognition of Dryer's services in assisting to carry Oregon for the republican ticket in 1860, on which he was one of the electors, Lincoln appointed him commissioner to the Sandwich Islands, whither he went in 1861. A few years later he returned to Portland and spent the remainder of his life to the year of his death in 1879, the principal part of the time holding the office of justice of the peace.
Upon becoming sole owner of The Oregonian Mr. Pittock saw that if he made his business successful he must start a daily, although there were two in the field already. Accordingly, the necessary new material was secured, and the Morning Oregonian was first issued February 4, 1861, four pages, each page being eleven and one half by eighteen and one fourth inches, four columns each. It is needless to recount the further history of this enterprise at this time.Since Mr. Dryer, the principal editors of the paper have been as follows: Simeon Francis, long the owner of the State Journal of Springfield, Illinois, who came as a result of a letter written by D. W. Craig, with the expectation of establishing a paper himself, but finding the field well occupied, he set type and did faithful editorial work on the Oregonian until 1861, when he was appointed paymaster in the United States Army by President Lincoln, for many years a warm personal friend; Henry Miller; Amory Holbrook, who was appointed United States district attorney by President Taylor, an able lawyer and a polished and vigorous writer; John F. Damon, Samuel A. Clarke, H. W. Scott, W. Lair Hill, and again H. W. Scott. Mr. Scott's first editorial engagement began May 15, 1865, although he became an editorial contributor several months before. In 1872 he was appointed collector of customs. In 1877 he bought an interest in the paper, and became editor in chief, which position he retains to-day.
- The Californian, first issued August 15, 1846.
- His name was Frank Johnson, an apprentice of the Spectator and afterwards of the Free Press, and now is a professor in the University of Chicago.
- The first daily newspaper in Oregon was the Portland Daily News, issued April 18, 1859, by S. A. English and Win. B. Taylor. Its first editor was Alonzo Leland, but his services were soon dispensed with and E. D. Shattuck became the editor. The paper in the beginning had four pages, each ten and one half by fifteen inches, with four columns.
- George B. Goudy came to Oregon In 1849. In 1852 he worked on the Oregonian. In 1853 he went to Olympia, and soon after became one of the publishers of the Pioneer and Democrat. In 1855–1856, during the Yakima war, he commanded Company "C," of which H. W. Scott, now of the Oregonian, was a member. Mr. Bondy died September 19, 1857, at Olympia, in his 29th year.
- Simeon Francis was born in Wethersfleld, Connecticut, May 14,1796. He served an apprenticeship in a New Haven printing office, and in 1824 published a paper in New London for a time. Then he removed to Buffalo, New York, and published The Emporium. In 1831 he removed to Springfield, Illinois, and in connection with three brothers began the publication of the Sangamo Journal, afterwards changed to the Illinois State Journal, and remained with it until 1857. In 1841 he was appointed Indian agent for Oregon by President Harrison, but after making all the needed preparations for the trip, he resigned.
- Mr. Berry was born in New Hampshire. He went to California in 1849, and came to Oregon with Mr. Dryer in 1850. He went to Olympia late in 1853, and bought an interest in the Pioneer and Democrat. He went to his early New England home in the summer of 1854 to make a visit, was exposed to the cholera, and died at Greenland, New Hampshire, August 1, 1854.
- Mr. Gunn was born in Connecticut about 1827, and went to California in 1849. Early in 1851 he came to Portland and was a compositor on the Oregonian for a time. In 1854 he went to Olympia, Washington Territory, and on May 19, 1855, he begun publishing the Puget Sound Courier at Steilacoom, the first paper there, and continued until its suspension in April, 1856. On November 30, 1867, he started the Olympia Transcript, and continued it until his death in 1883.