Oregon Historical Quarterly/Volume 4/Pioneer Papers of Puget Sound

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PIONEER PAPERS OF PUGET SOUND.

By Clarence B. Bagley.

The trapper, the trader, the missionary, and the printer were the pioneers of "Old Oregon," as the original territory lying between the Rocky Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, and extending northward from California to the British possessions may be properly called. A mere handful of patriotic Americans founded a provisional government for this vast wilderness in 1843, and the American Government enclosed it safely in the national fold in 1846 by treaty with Great Britain, and organized it into a territory August 14, 1848.

Those who are the leading spirits in the several historical societies of the Northwest, and the writers of its history, realize the true value to be placed upon the labors of the pioneer printers and newspaper men of "Old Oregon." This expression is tautological. There were no newspaper men who were not printers in the pioneer days.

It has been my good fortune, as child, boy, and man, to know nearly all the old newspaper men of Oregon and Washington of that period by sight, and to be on terms of friendship with most of them, as well as most intimate with the majority. Among them were:

Ashael Bush, W. L. Adams, Thomas H. Pearne, T. J. Dryer, Harvey W. Scott, H. L. Pittock, Beriah Brown, James O'Meara, W. Lair Hill, Wm. G. T'Vault, Samuel A. Clarke, Mrs. Duniway, D. W. Craig, John Atkinson, E. M. Waite, L. Samuels, John Burnett, J. M. Baltimore, William Newell, P. B. Johnson, R. R. Rees, E. T. Gunn, Charles Besserer, Eugene Semple, A. M. Poe, John Miller Murphy, Randall H. Hewitt, L. G. Abbott, Thornton F. McElroy, James N. Gale, J. R. Watson, David Higgins, Charles and Thomas W. Prosch, John F. Damon, D. C. Ireland, Francis H. Cook, S. L. Maxwell, H. C. Patrick, R. F. Radebaugh, and many of their contemporaries, as well as a host of their successors. Nearly all these were practical printers, and most of them skillful at the case, capable of taking entire charge of the mechanical department of the early day printing offices. This training made them accurate in their literary work. While some of them might not have been on intimate terms with the rules of grammar, they made up for any such deficiency by untiring and conscientious efforts to give their readers good newspapers, in the face of the gravest difficulties. In the matter of politics full allowance had ever to be made for the personal bias of the writer, but in the matter of news, especially that of a local character, the most absolute fidelity to the truth was ever maintained. No efforts were made for a "good story" at the expense of truth. The head of the paper always had a personal knowledge of the facts and usually prepared the account of them. If he found he had made a mistake he usually corrected it in the next issue, if it was of sufficient importance. For this reason the writer of the present day who delves among the old newspaper files of pioneer days, and even down to within twenty or twenty-five years ago, can rely upon the fairness and truthfulness of their local columns. They were all writing history but few of them realized it. Life was too strenuous with the pioneers of the "forties" and "fifties" for them to spend much time in keeping diaries or other records of passing events. If they had done so, the unsettled conditions under which they lived, the lack of substantial buildings, the migration to new countries, and the rush to new mines, would have resulted in the loss or destruction of most of such manuscripts.

Of the early Oregon papers, I doubt if more than two or three perfect files exist. Of the early papers of Washington, not more than three or four complete files remain of any of them. Of the first Seattle papers, there is but one file. It I began collecting more than forty years ago. How much care, then, should be exercised in gathering these old papers from the garrets and the closets where they have lain fifty years or more, perhaps—as well as to observe the most painstaking care for their preservation.

When the missions among the Indians of Oregon were established by Messrs. Whitman and Spalding in 1836, the First Native Church of Honolulu decided to send to it a small printing press and some type and material that had been in use for some time there in printing spelling books and religious matter, thinking the work of the mission in Oregon would be advanced by its aid.

Edwin O. Hall had been one of the printers of the Honolulu mission and he was engaged to accompany the printing outfit to Oregon. With the press, type, fixtures, a stock of paper and binding apparatus in his charge he, accompanied by his wife, arrived at Vancouver, on the Columbia River, early in the month of April, 1839. In a few days the press and party started up the Columbia River in a canoe and reached Wallula on the 30th. From there the press was sent on pack animals to Lapwai, on the Clearwater River, not far from the present City of Lewiston, Idaho, while the rest of the outfit and the party went on up the river by canoe.

May 18, 1839, the first proof sheet in the original Oregon Territory was struck off amid great rejoicing among the missionary party. A large number of publications in the Flathead, Spokane, Cayuse, and Nez Percé language was printed by the mission people. In fact, the press was in use a great deal until in 1846, when Doctor Whitman sent it to The Dalles, where it remained until after the Whitman massacre, November 29-30, 1847.

In 1848 it was in use near Hillsboro, on Tualatin Plains, for several months, where eight numbers of the Oregon American and Evangelical Unionist appeared, which was the third paper in chronological order.

By this time more modern presses, apparatus and types had reached Oregon and the pioneer outfit was laid aside. Years later it came into the possession of the Oregon Historical Society at Portland.

The Oregon Spectator was the first newspaper in Old Oregon, and the initial number appeared at Oregon City on Thursday, February 5, 1846. A new plant had been procured for it in New York, whence it was sent around "The Horn." Col. William G. T'Vault was its editor and John Flemming the printer. This paper passed through many vicissitudes in the ensuing years—numerous changes of editors and publishers with frequent alterations in size, now larger and again smaller, until it finally suspended in 1855.

The second paper was the Oregon Free Press, which appeared in March, 1848, under the control of George L. Curry, who later became Governor of Oregon.

The fourth in order was the Western Star, first issued at Milwaukie November 21, 1850, by Lot Whitcomb. At that time Milwaukie, on the east side of the Willamette, a few miles above Portland, was a rival of the latter place for commercial supremacy, but in May, 1851, Milwaukie had fallen behind in the race, and the Star was moved to Portland, and its name changed to the Oregon Weekly Times. It lived much longer than most of the early newspaper ventures of the Northwest. Among its numerous editors were A. C. Gibbs, Governor of Oregon during the Civil War period, and also W. Lair Hill, with whom all lawyers of Oregon and Washington are familiar personally or by reputation. He was the author of the well-known code of this state bearing his name, and for a considerable period a resident of Seattle.

The fifth was the Weekly Oregonian and the only one of all the newspapers of Oregon and Washington appearing prior to 1860 to survive with its original name and without periodical suspensions.

The Oregonian had to struggle for existence during all its early years. Rivals unnumbered went to the newspaper graveyard during the succeeding quarter century. It is a conservative estimate to place the aggregate at a $1,000,000 sunk during that period by ambitious printers, dissatisfied politicians, and by corporations who could not control its editorials, in the various attempts to break the Oregonian down. The most notable contest was between the Oregonian and the Bulletin, when Ben. Holladay was the great magnate in railroad and steamship affairs of the Northwest. He established, about 1872, a first-class newspaper and job printing office that cost not less than $50,000. He employed the best newspaper talent he could secure, and the Bulletin at once became a dangerous rival for the Oregonian, which had to depend solely on its own resources for its support, while the weekly deficit in the Bulletin office was made good by a check from Ben. Holladay.

The Oregonian had at that time about seven thousand subscribers at $3 per year to its weekly paper, while the Bulletin had only a few hundred. The Weekly Oregonian saved the day, and the Bulletin died the death. Its backer is reputed to have sunk not less than $100,000. This left the Oregonian master of the field, and it became the overshadowing journalistic power of the Northwest until the great dailies of Seattle forced it to the rear in the State of Washington. Thomas J. Dryer was its first editor and A. M. Berry the first printer. Henry L. Pittock became a printer in its office in November, 1853, and was admitted to partnership in 1856, and only four years later became its sole owner. Mr. Harvey W. Scott went on its editorial staff in May, 1865. In 1877 he bought an interest in the paper and became editor-in-chief. He and Mr. Pittock still own the paper, and it need not be added that it has made them immensely wealthy. The Daily Oregonian made its first appearance February 4, 1861. It consisted of four pages, each page about 11½×18 inches, four columns to the page. March 26, 1851, the Oregon Statesman was launched on the newspaper sea at Salem, the state capital, with Joseph S. Smith at the helm. In later years Smith went to Congress from that state and was always a conspicuous figure in Democratic circles. In September, 1852, when we arrived in Salem from across "the plains," Asahel Bush had become owner and editor. He soon became public printer, then an exceedingly profitable billet, and in six or eight years was quite wealthy. The Statesman was the leading Democratic journal for a long period and wielded a powerful influence until Joseph Lane and the Democratic party under him lost the state, when Abraham Lincoln was elected President. After that its influence gradually declined. It underwent the usual changes of ownership and temporary suspensions. It will be difficult for the younger men in the newspaper offices of today, with their many departments and special work, to realize the many cares and duties devolving upon the pioneer newspaper men. The successful one was a capable printer who could "set type," run a press, make up the forms, make a roller, and wash it if need be. He was editorial writer, local reporter, business manager, and mailing clerk. A "job office" was usually a part of the printing establishment and he, perforce, must be his own job printer and pressman as well. During all the earlier years there were no telegraphic dispatches, the "news" being selected from the weekly issues of the Tribune or Herald of New York City, which came by mail steamer to the Isthmus of Panama, thence across and by steamer to San Francisco, and thence with the utmost irregularity by steamer to Portland, from there down the Columbia and up the Cowlitz River and by pack animal or mud wagon to Olympia. Under all these adverse circumstances it is remarkable what good newspapers were issued. They were usually on paper 24x36 inches in size, which was about the limit for hand presses then in use. The editorial matter was vigorous and able, the typography and presswork equal to that of the present day, the selection of news and literary matter unexceptionable. It is not a matter of surprise that men capable of accomplishing such good work in the face of such difficulties should have wielded a powerful influence in the pioneer work of the territory. Of the pioneer newspaper men of Oregon and Washington there are many in Seattle. First in age and experience is Charles Prosch, with over forty years to his credit. Rev. John F. Damon comes next in seniority of service. Judge Orange Jacobs had much editorial experience in Oregon before coming here. Henry G. Struve, Esq., was an editorial writer for years prior to 1873, in Vancouver, Clarke County, and in Olympia. Ex-Governor Semple spent many years in all kinds of newspaper work in Oregon and Washington, beginning about 1870. Thomas W. Prosch learned to be a printer as he learned to read on the Herald at Steilacoom and the Tribune in Olympia. C. B. Bagley began newspaper work in 1868 and continued it with little intermission for twenty years. Samuel C. Crawford began as printer's devil for John Miller Murphy on the Olympia Standard thirty years or more ago. Beriah Brown, the senior of them all, recently died here, and his son Berry began "at the case" and other newspaper work as early as 1868. The Columbian was the "pioneer newspaper west of the mountains, between the father of Oregon waters and Kamstkatka," as an editorial paragraph in the first number puts it. Messrs. Wiley & McElroy established it in Olympia September 11, 1852. Later its name was changed to the Pioneer, and not long afterward it was merged with the Democrat, a rival paper, under the name of Pioneer and Democrat. From the above date Olympia has never been without one or more weekly papers, and at times has enjoyed two daily papers at the same time. The Puget Sound Courier was the pioneer paper at Steilacoom, which was started by Affleck & Gunn, May 19, 1854. It was Whig in politics, and as the population was overwhelmingly Democratic it soon died for lack of sustenance. Mr. Charles Prosch, the dean of newspaperdom on Puget Sound, whose erect form and snow-white hair are familiar on the streets of Seattle, published the Puget Sound Herald at Steilacoom, beginning March 12, 1858, for about six years, and later other papers at Olympia. The Northern Light appeared at Whatcom in 1858, under the management of W. Bausman & Co., during a few weeks of the height of the Fraser River gold rush, but its light was soon snuffed out. The Port Townsend Register was started January 4, 1860, by a young man named Travers Daniels, but the field was not an encouraging one, and at the end of ten weeks he sold out to William T. Whitacre, who kept it alive until August, when it suspended.

July 5 of the same year the Northwest was started in Port Townsend by E. S. Dyer, publisher, and John F. Damon, editor. Mr. Damon continued with the paper until it suspended, before the second volume was completed.

Rev. John F. Damon, the Congregational clergyman of Seattle, is too widely known to require extended mention here.

The Register was resuscitated late in 1860 and run a violent career for several months, and later was followed by the Message, which ran several years under different management.

In 1874 C. W. Philbrick purchased the press on which the last-named paper was printed, changed the name to Puget Sound Argus, and succeeded in placing it on a paying basis, a hitherto impossible achievement in Port Townsend. In 1877 Philbrick, after accumulating considerable property, sold the Argus to Mr. Allen Weir.

July 29, 1861, the Overland Press was started in Olympia. A short time before the pony express had been put on the route between the Missouri River and Sacramento, carrying the news and a few letters, thus placing San Francisco and New York in communication with each other in from ten to twelve days. This suggested the name of the paper. It was enabled to give a brief summary of Eastern news only three weeks old. Prior to this it had been from six weeks to three months old when it reached Olympia.

The great Civil War had broken out only a few weeks earlier and the manager of the Press of Victoria, British Columbia, with commendable business sagacity, determined to establish a paper in Olympia containing the latest war news, and have it ready to distribute at all Puget Sound ports and have a supply to distribute to its own readers in Victoria and other parts of British Columbia on the arrival of the weekly mail. The Eliza Anderson, then the crack steamer of Puget Sound waters, made weekly trips, leaving Olympia early on Monday morning, arriving at Seattle about 4 p. m., and at Victoria early Tuesday morning. The paper at once became very popular and gained an immense circulation for those days.

Early in the fourth volume its name was changed to the Pacific Tribune. Randall H. Hewitt, now living in Los Angeles, owned and published it for a time, when Charles Prosch acquired it and continued its publication at Olympia until 1873. By this time his son, Thomas W. Prosch, had manifested much newspaper ability and had become the owner of the paper. He moved it to Tacoma, the new railroad town, that year and continued there until the almost total death of the place forced another move and he came to Seattle with it. In 1878 Thaddeus Hanford bought it and merged it with the Post-Intelligencer. With but one change of name it had lived about seventeen years, or longer than any other of the early Washington papers, with one exception.

This exception was and is the Washington Standard of Olympia, the most notable instance of newspaper longevity, with the exception of the Oregonian, in old Oregon. Its first number was largely written, set up and printed by its founder, John Miller Murphy, and now, almost forty-three years later, it is his proud boast that it has never missed an issue, has never changed its name and that not a single one of its weekly issues has failed to have more or less editorial matter from his pen. It was "Union" in sentiment during the war of the rebellion, but espoused the cause of Andrew Johnson in his contest with a Republican Congress, and since then has always been consistently Democratic. Mr. Murphy has always been too proud of his independence to subordinate his will or the expressions of his journal to the control of his party leaders, and has often refused preferment at their hands on that account. He still superintends the mechanical department of his office, as well as attending to his editorial duties. He had achieved a competence but the panic of 1893 and the ensuing period of financial depression made great inroads upon his fortune, so that necessity compels him to remain in the harness, though nearly a half century of continuous work has certainly earned him rest.

The Seattle Gazette was the name under which the first paper published in Seattle appeared, dated December 11, 1863, nearly forty years ago. It was edited, set up, published, and with the assistance of an Indian for roller boy, printed by J. R. Watson. The office was in the second story of one of Yesler's buildings, then standing near the present north line of the Scandinavian Bank Building. The paper consisted of four pages, the printed matter on each page measuring 9½×14½ inches. The type and other material were destroyed many years ago, but the old Ramage[1] printing press is a relic highly prized at the State University. The Seattle Gazette, Puget Sound Gazette, and Puget Sound Weekly continued nearly four years with frequent changes in form and ownership.

Pioneer printers have taken a great deal of interest in regard to the antecedents of this old press. Mr. George H. Himes was an Olympia boy, who served his apprenticeship in the office of the Washington Standard under John Miller Murphy. From there he went to Portland and in time "Himes the Printer" became a household word in Oregon and Washington. He has of late years been prominent in the pioneer and historical societies of Oregon. He has given much time to research regarding this old press, and as a result gives it as his opinion that it was first 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, the Californian, the pioneer paper of California, was printed on it. Late in 1846 it was sent from Monterey to San Francisco and used in printing the Star, the first paper of that city, issued in January, 1847. These two papers were combined at a later date, and in the fall of 1848 the first number of the Alta California was issued from it. From San Francisco it went to Portland and the first number of the Oregonian was taken off it. In 1852 it and the old plant of the Oregonian was bought by Thornton F. McElroy and J. W. Wiley, who brought it around on the schooner Mary Taylor to Olympia, where the first number of the Columbian was printed on it. In 1863 J. R. Watson brought it to Seattle, and December 10th the first paper, the Seattle Gazette, was printed on it. Again in 1865 S. L. Maxwell used it to print the earlier numbers of the Intelligencer.

There seems to be no doubt that it was used to print the first newspapers on the Pacific Coast, the first in Monterey, San Francisco, Portland, Olympia, Seattle.

Although Seattle's first paper was of much more modest proportions than any of its predecessors or contemporaries, it had the honor of starting the first daily paper in the territory, which appeared April 23, 1866, and continued to August 11th of the same year.

The Western Union Telegraph line was completed to Seattle October 26, 1864, and at 4 P. M. of that date the Gazette issued its "Citizen's Dispatch," giving the first published dispatch coming by wire to this place. It gave the Eastern war news to October 24th, from Kansas City and from Chattanooga of the operations of Sherman against Hood in the Atlanta campaign.

Occasionally telegraphic dispatches appeared in succeeding papers, but not until about July 1, 1872, when the Puget Sound Dispatch was established by Larrabee & Co., Beriah Brown, editor, was any regular publication of the press dispatches undertaken here.

In June, 1867, a suspension took place, and August 5th next S. L. Maxwell sent to press the first number of the Weekly Intelligencer. The plant had come into the ownership of Messrs. Daniel and C. B. Bagley, and Mr. Maxwell was permitted to use the same and pay for it as he could out of the earnings of the paper. The type, rules, press, and much of the advertising matter of the older paper, still standing in the forms, was used in the makeup of the new paper, so that it may properly be considered a lineal successor of the Seattle Gazette. Mr. Maxwell proved to be a good newspaper and business man, and as the town and surrounding country was having a vigorous growth, it did not take him long to pay off the small debt and to add much needed material to the office, which was moved across Yesler Way to a small wooden building, and, later, up Yesler Way to near the southwest corner of Second Avenue South. It gained influence as it grew, made money for its owner almost from the start, and had the local field to itself until the Dispatch was started.

In the latter part of 1878 some of the prominent local office-holders and business men organized a company to start another paper, and November 21, 1878, the Seattle Weekly Post made its first appearance, being made up from the Daily Post, which started on the 15th of the month. Its first quarters were in the two-story wooden building owned by Hillory Butler that stood on the ground now occupied by the southwest corner of the Hotel Butler. In passing it may be added that this building was, from time to time, the home of more early papers than any other in town—Dispatch, North Pacific Rural, Chronicle, Post, Times, Press, and others with single and hyphenated titles long since forgotten.

In the meantime the Intelligencer had been installed in a larger two-story building then standing on the west side of First Avenue where it deflects into First Avenue South, and remained there several years.

About 1879 Thomas W. Prosch and Samuel L. Crawford had acquired ownership of it. Both had been printers from boyhood, and Mr. Prosch had gained much experience as a newspaper man in Olympia and Tacoma, and under their management it continued to grow in value and influence.

In 1881 the Post Publishing Company began the erection of a substantial brick building, two stories and basement on the northeast corner of Yesler Way and Post Street. As it was nearing completion negotiations were opened for a consolidation of the Post and Intelligencer, and this was effected October 1, 1881, with Thomas W. Prosch owner of one half and John Leary and George W. Harris each one quarter. The basement and lower story of the new building were used by the company and the upper story rented for offices.

This building continued to be the home of the paper under several managements, until the great fire of June 6, 1889, destroyed it and most of its plant.

Early in 1886 a joint stock company, consisting of Frederick J. Grant, C. B. Bagley, Griffith Davies, Jacob Furth, John H. McGraw, E. S. Ingraham, W. H. Hughes, Thomas Burke, and Dr. Thomas T. Miner, bought the Post-Intelligencer from T. W. Prosch. Grant continued editor-in-chief, Bagley was business manager, S. L. Crawford city editor and reporter, and E. S. Meany had charge of the carrier service.

Near the close of the same year L. S. J. Hunt purchased the controlling interest in the paper and assumed management at once. He had come to Seattle with large financial backing, determined to go into the newspaper field, and the majority of the stockholders, fearing he might establish another paper and make it a powerful rival, sold him their interests. He proceeded to spend money most lavishly upon it and soon built it up into a great paper.

In May, 1871, a small printing outfit that had been in use at Sitka, Alaska, was brought to Seattle, and for a few months the Seattle Times and Alaska Herald was printed from it.

Later this material became the nucleus of the office of the Puget Sound Dispatch, which was established by Beriah Brown and Charles H. Larrabee. The latter was then a prominent attorney in Seattle. He was among the killed at the time of an appalling tragedy at Tehachipe Pass, on the line of the Southern Pacific, between Los Angeles and San Francisco. He soon retired from the paper, leaving Beriah Brown in sole control, which he retained with an occasional intermission until about 1878, when it was merged with the Intelligencer.

Mr. Brown was one of the old school newspapermen, who were writers of editorials worthy of the greatest papers of the United States. He was a friend of Horace Greeley, the elder Bennett and others of the noted editors of a half century ago. He rarely wrote anything for his own paper. His custom was to go to the case and put his articles in type as he composed them. Few can realize the difficulties occasioned by the dual processes of thought thus brought into play. Local news is the life of all newspapers in young communities. This he could not purvey, nor was his business management a success.

Thaddeus Hanford, the eldest of the brothers of that name, in his early boyhood showed ability as a writer and after he had passed through college with honor he returned to Seattle and engaged in newspaper work. For a year or more he was the owner of the Intelligencer, but sold it about 1879 as is noted elsewhere.

One of the most widely known as well as popular of the old-time newspaper men was E. T. Gunn. He worked in the Oregonian office as early as 1851 and was one of its owners for a time. In 1855 he was engaged in newspaper work at Steilacoom. November 30, 1867, he started the Olympia Transcript and its publication was continued regularly until his death in 1883. The Transcript was the neatest and best-printed of all the early papers and for many years exerted much influence in political affairs of the territory. A split in the Republican party occurred in 1867 and was the cause of the Transcript being started, and for about six years while this schism continued it championed the cause of the "bolting wing" of the party. In 1872 an alliance between the bolters and the Democrats resulted in the overwhelming triumph of the fusion party, Judge O. B. McFadden being elected to Congress over Selucius Garfield, the Republican candidate. All the newspapers in Olympia were in sympathy with the fusionists, and this led to the organization of a company which established the Puget Sound Courier.

This company was under the leadership of Elisha P. Ferry, then Surveyor-General, who became Territorial Governor in 1873, and the first Governor of the State of Washington in 1889.

The Daily Courier made its first appearance January 2, 1872, and the weekly later in the week. During that year H. G. Struve, then practicing his profession in Olympia, did much editorial work, while the late Fred Prosch had charge of the mechanical department. In December C. B. Bagley became business manager and city editor, and in June, 1873, he bought the office and newspaper. The daily was discontinued at the close of 1874. Mr. Bagley was appointed Territorial Printer in 1873, and held that position for ten years. He continued the Weekly Courier until late in 1884, when he sold out to Thomas H. Cavanaugh, who changed the name of the paper to the Partisan.

During the period between 1873 and 1883 Olympia had four weekly newspapers most of the time, while several small dailies appeared from time to time, but never for more than a few months. Until the Seattle papers began to take telegraphic dispatches the Olympia papers had most of their circulation at Seattle and points further down Sound, but this gradually ceased, and long before the admission of the state their patronage had become almost wholly local in character.

Steilacoom, until about 1880, when Tacoma began its second growth, was a favorite field for newspaper ventures. Mr. Charles Prosch held the field there nearly six years, much longer than anyone else, and while some of his early contemporaries manifested more vigor and belligerency in their editorial columns, none of them gave so much local news or possessed one half the literary merit of the Herald.

Francis H. Cook also moved from Olympia to Tacoma, with a newspaper plant, on which he had for a time published the Echo. This paper was started in 1868 by Randall H. Hewitt, and that year in its office the writer began work as a printer. James E. Whitworth, now of Seattle, Nathan S. Porter, of Olympia, and Ike M. Hall worked together in that office. Hundreds of the older residents of Seattle remember Judge Hall, who died here about ten years ago. Early in 1869 C. B. Bagley became the owner and publisher of the Echo for about a year. Like most of its fellows, it underwent all manner of changes of ownership, of form and place of publication during an erratic career of about eight years.

During the eight or ten years following the founding of Tacoma in 1873, many attempts were made to establish newspapers there, but most of them were far from profitable to their backers. In fact, it has been frequently reported that their more pretentious successors have not been far from financial stress.

The Beacon was brought from Kalama by Mr. and Mrs. Mooney, which had been the organ of the Northern Pacific Railroad. This soon died. In 1880 there started the North Pacific Coast, but its life was brief.

R. F. Radebaugh, of San Francisco, and H. C. Patrick, of Sacramento, came to Tacoma and started the Weekly Ledger April 23, 1880. April 7, 1883, the Daily Ledger was started, and both the weekly and daily are still appearing regularly, having long passed the usual period that has been fatal to so many papers on Puget Sound.

Mr. Patrick left the Ledger in 1882 and bought the Pierce County News, which had been started August 10, 1881, by George W. Mattice. Mr. Patrick changed the name to Tacoma News, and it appeared as a weekly paper until September 15, 1883, when he started the Daily News. It continues to occupy the evening field, while the Ledger retains the morning field.

The limits of this article do not permit mention of many papers which have appeared from time to time in every town and almost every village. In the writer's collection there are not less than one hundred publications, daily, weekly, or monthly, that have sprung into life since 1852. Most of them are forgotten in the communities where they appeared. Success has come to but here and there one.

Kirk C. Ward was a fluent writer and a promoter of no small sagacity. Having lost control of the Post, he soon induced some friends to back him and started the Chronicle. It had a variegated career and finally became the property of one of the leading law firms of the city, McNaught, Ferry, McNaught & Mitchell. They employed a Bohemian from Kansas, named Frank C. Montgomery, as editor, who conducted it until May 1, 1886, when Homer M. Hill, who is now engaged in other business in Seattle, bought it.

The Hall brothers were conducting the Call and the two papers were consolidated, and on Monday, May 3, 1886, the paper came out with Vol. 1, No. 1 of the Seattle Daily Press. A weekly paper was also run in connection with the daily. Mr. Hill ere long acquired the entire ownership of the paper. He was a shrewd, capable business man of untiring industry, and under his management the paper became a valuable property. Interests in it had been sold and bought back from time to time, and at the time Mr. Hill closed out his ownership Harry White held some of its shares. At that time the paper was absolutely free from debt and had a good bank account and was making money for its owners.

Mr. W. E. Bailey, a wealthy young man from Philadelphia, had large interests here, and he became the victim to an ambition to conduct a big newspaper. Under these circumstances Mr. Hill had no difficulty in getting his price for the Press. Mr. L. S. J. Hunt of the Post-Intelligencer conducted the negotiations and made the purchase and at once transferred the property to Mr. Bailey. He made important additions to the mechanical department and engaged a large news and editorial force, whose chief instructions were to make a clean, live newspaper.

At the time Mr. Hill bought the Chronicle it owned the Associated Press evening franchise, which was its most valuable asset.

In passing, it is proper to note the fact that the present Times is the lineal successor of the Chronicle, and while for a brief period there was a break in the legal succession, it may be truthfully said that the historical succession to the Associated Press franchise is derived from the Chronicle down through the Press and the Press-Times to The Times of to-day.

The consolidation of the Chronicle and Call threw a lot of printers and newspaper men out of employment, including Thomas H. Dempsey, the foreman of the Chronicle office. The latter was a keen business man and a competent printer. He and the late Col. George G. Lyon and James P. Ferry at once organized a new company, and secured a printing outfit that served their purpose temporarily. The same day, May 3, 1886, that the Press was issued, No. 1, Vol. 1 of the Daily Times also appeared. Seattle, then a little city of about 10,000 population, was thus the proud possessor of three daily papers.

The starting of these two papers just preceded the "boom" in Seattle real estate, when the volume of advertising was vastly increased as well as population of the city, and both papers made money rapidly.

February 10, 1891, Mr. Bailey bought the Times from Lyon and Dempsey, paying for it $48,000. He had paid somewhere from $20,000 to $25,000 for the Press. He consolidated the two under the name of the Press-Times.

The period of financial depression which followed a couple of years later bore heavily upon Mr. Bailey and and he was finally compelled to give up the paper to his creditors, having lost not less than $200,000 during his journalistic career.

The history of its subsequent vicissitudes and difficulties would fill a volume, but can be touched upon but briefly here. The paper was on the market for a long time. John Collins had it for a time and sunk a lot of money in it, having acquired it through a mortgage of $15,000. John W. Pratt, whose recent lamented death is fresh in the memories of a host of friends, secured control of it for a time. At times it was published by a receiver. Hughes and Davies came into possession of it through ex-Sheriff James Woolery, who had taken it over under the mortgage given to John Collins.

During this troubled period among other happenings the name was changed back to The Times, and also the Associated Press franchise was surrendered and that of the United Service taken over. Later, and subsequent to the mortgage of $15,000 given to John Collins, the Associated Press franchise was again secured, and this was a vital point in the legal contest that arose, The Times Printing Company, headed by Col. A. J. Blethen on one side, and Hughes & Davies on the other.

Colonel Blethen bought The Times August 7, 1897, and his first editorial appeared in it three days later. He came well equipped for newspaper work and management by reason of wide experience in other fields, and month by month he and his sons, Joseph and Clarence B., have made it better and better, and to-day is one of the most valuable newspaper properties on the Pacific Coast and one of the great dailies of the United States.


  1. The Ramage was so called because it was constructed by Adam Ramage, who went to Philadelphia about 1790, and is believed to have been the first press builder in America. For many years he constructed all the presses used in this country. The posts and cross-pieces of the larger sizes of his early presses were made of wood, and the bed, platen, tracks, springs, screw, lever, etc., of iron. The largest Ramage press I ever saw had a bed 22×32 inches, with platen 16×22 inches. This was used in printing the Oregonian for the first four months of its life, December, 1850, to April, 1851, and required four impressions to perfect a paper—an impression for each page. Sixty to seventy perfect papers per hour was the limit of a pressman's capacity. During the summer of 1853 a wooden extension was added to the platen of the press by an Olympia (Wash.) mechanic, thus doubling its capacity. The extra strain upon the muscles of the pressman as a result of this enlargement caused the old machine to be dubbed a "man-killer."—George H. Himes.