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PORTLAND has always had an industrious and vigorous press. The fathers of the city were not slow to perceive that among the things necessary to build up the city and make it known to the world was an active and enterprising press, and very soon after the city was started there was an effort to establish a newspaper here. The project was talked of for a considerable time before means were found of carrying it into execution. It was no easy matter to find a man who would undertake the publication of a newspaper in so young and small a community, and who at the same time possessed the ability and energy necessary for such a work. In those days there was not a newspaper in every village, as now. The business was yet to be created. Finally, towards the end of the year 1850, Col. W. W. Chapman, Hon. H. W. Corbett and others resolved that Portland must not wait longer for a newspaper, and that measures must be taken to establish one.
In the autumn of 1850, Messrs. Chapman and Corbett were in San Francisco on a variety of business relating to the new city of Portland. The newspaper was not forgotten. Their desire was to find a man who had the means of establishing a weekly newspaper and experience in conducting the business. Such a man fortunately was found in Thomas J. Dryer, the founder of the Oregonian.
Dryer was a native of Ulster County, New York. He had worked on the country press in his State, and had become known as a vigorous writer. He was not a man of much literary culture, but [page 414] had high intelligence and great energy, and by nature belonged to the west rather than to the east. He had just arrived in California and had brought with him a hand press and a small lot of printing material. Mr. Corbett, in pursuit of a man who would establish a paper in Portland, fell in with Mr. Dryer, and undertook to show him that Portland was just the place for him; just the place where he could make an outfit like his own available. Colonel Chapman joined in the effort, and Mr. Dryer was induced to come to Portland to start a newspaper.
There was delay in getting the press and material shipped to Portland, but it finally arrived and was hastily put in order, and the first number of the Oregonian appeared December 4, 1850. It was a sheet of four pages, six columns to the page, and was to be published weekly. From that day to this it has never missed a weekly issue. Mr. Dryer was an aggressive and spirited, though not a scholarly or polished writer. The journals of that day gave little attention to reporting the ordinary incidents or affairs of their locality; news-gathering had not yet been developed into a science or business, and petty political discussion, consisting largely of personalities, and often descending to grossness, was the staple of the newspaper's work. Soon after the Oregonian was started at Portland the Statesman was started at Oregon City, and as one was Whig and the other Democrat, controversies soon became hot between them. During a long period their columns were filled with bitter articles against each other, and the personalities of journalism were carried to an extreme seldom witnessed elsewhere. Their remote positions from centre of news, and the fact that few things of importance were transpiring in so small a community, were other causes that led the Oregon journals of that period to devote their space so largely to petty contention and personal vituperation. But the "Oregon style" passed away in course of years, with the conditions that produced it.
The Oregonian, it is needless to say, was not a prosperous paper. Its earnings were small and debts accumulated, but means were found to carry it on from year to year. In 1853, Henry L. Pittock, who had just arrived in Oregon, across the plains, was engaged to [page 415] work upon the paper. He was a practical printer, a youth of steady habits and great industry, and upon him gradually fell the duty of publishing the paper. Mr. Dryer gave little attention to details; he wrote editorials when in the humor--usually when he wished to assail or retort on opponents--and yet the paper was a positive force in Portland and throughout Oregon, chiefly because it suited the humor of a considerable number of the people, and there was nothing else to take its place. Mr. Dryer, through its columns and through his activity in the small politics of the day, kept himself continually before the people; he was several times a member of the territorial legislature, where he was as aggressive as in the columns of his newspaper; and later he was a member of the convention that framed the constitution of the State. Meantime, Mr. Pittock, with the industry, perseverance and judgment that have since made him so conspicuous as a manager in journalism, was attending to the details and "getting out" the paper week after week. In 1860, Mr. Dryer was chosen one of the electors on the Lincoln presidential ticket. The next year he was appointed minister to the Hawaiian Islands, and as he owed Mr. Pittock quite a sum for services, the latter took the paper and soon started it upon that career which has since made it so successful and famous in journalism. Mr. Dryer, after several years of residence abroad, returned to Portland, where he died in 1879.
Upon undertaking to publish the paper on his own account, Mr. Pittock's first resolve was to start a daily. Two daily papers were already published in Portland--the Times and Advertiser; and each of these appeared to have a better chance for life than the Oregonian. But the patience, industry, application and skill of Mr. Pittock soon decided the contest in his favor. The first number of the Daily Oregonian appeared February 4, 1861. It was a sheet of four pages, with four columns to the page. As the civil war was just then breaking out great efforts were made to get news, and the energy of the Oregonian put it in the lead of its competitors. It was assisted also by its vigorous espousal of the cause of the Union, and people began to look to it not only for the news but for expression of their sentiments upon the great crisis. Simeon Francis, a veteran [page 416] newspaper man from Springfield, Illinois, became editor, and held the place about one year, when he withdrew to accept a position in the army. He was succeeded by Amory Holbrook, a very able man but an irregular worker, who held the position two years. During 1864 and part of 1865, various persons did editorial work on the paper, among whom John P. Damon, now of Seattle, and Samuel A. Clarke, of Salem, deserve mention. In May, 1865, Harvey W. Scott was engaged as editor, and has ever since held the position, with the exception of the interval from October, 1872 to April, 1877, during which the paper was under the charge of W. Lair Hill.
In 1872, Hon. H. W. Corbett bought an interest in the paper, which he held till 1877, when he sold it to Mr. Scott, who resumed editorial charge. Since that time the paper, under Mr. Pittock as manager and Mr. Scott as editor, has grown with the country, has increased in circulation and has fully established itself at the head of journalism in the Northwest. Of the importance of Portland as a city, of the extent of the business of Portland and of the super-eminent position of the city in the Northwest, there is no surer attestation than the pages of the Oregonian.
The Evening Telegram was started in April, 1877. It was under-taken by an association of printers and was helped by the proprietors of the Oregonian. This arrangement lasted not much more than a year, when the printers who had engaged in it decided to go no further. The proprietors of the Oregonian thereupon took up the paper and have published it ever since.
The Western Star was started at Milwaukie shortly after the Oregonian was started at Portland. Milwaukie was a rival of Portland for commercial eminence, but it was soon perceived that the race was hopeless and the Western Star was brought down to Portland, where it was published as the Oregon Times. This paper was started by John Orvis Waterman, who remained with it several years. He was succeeded by Carter & Austin, who published the paper till 1861, when it was suspended. In 1854, the Democratic Standard appeared. Under the management of Alonzo Leland, who now lives at Lewiston, Idaho, it wielded some power in local politics. James [page 417] O'Meara succeeded Leland in 1858. A year thereafter it suspended publication, but was soon after revived and for a few months continued the struggle for existence, making its last appearance on June 6, 1859.
On April 18, 1859, the first number of a daily newspaper was issued in this city. It bore the title of Portland Daily News, and was published by S. A. English & Co., with E. D. Shattuck as editor. It soon ceased to exist, and the material upon which it was printed was moved to Eugene City. The advent of the News was quickly followed by the appearance of the Oregon Advertiser, a weekly journal, under the editorial and proprietory control of Alonzo Leland. This paper continued to be published until October, 1862. Toward the end of its career S. J. McCormick became editor. He was succeeded by George I. Curry, the last editor of the paper, who had been one of Oregon's territorial governors. The Advertiser was uncompromisingly democratic in its utterances and to such an extent did it support the anti-war attitude of its party during the early period of the war of the rebellion that its suspension was not entirely voluntary.
The Pacific Christian Advocate, the oldest religious journal in Oregon and the only paper, exclusive of the Oregonian, which has had an existence since the pioneer days of Portland, has been published since 1855. It was first established at Salem as an independent Methodist weekly with Rev. T. H. Pearne as editor, but in 1859 was removed to Portland. It was published as an independent paper until the session of the general conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1856, when that body adopted it as a general conference paper, and selected Mr. Pearne as editor for four years. Mr. Pearne continued as editor until 1864, when Rev. H. C. Benson, D. D., was chosen as his successor. The latter was succeeded in 1868 by Rev. Isaac Dillon, D. D., who occupied the editorial chair for eight years. In 1876 Rev. J. H. Acton became editor and served for four years. During all these years the paper was by no means self-supporting and had been a source of considerable expense to the general conference. In view of this fact, at the meeting of the general conference in 1880 it was determined to discontinue the [page 418] Advocate, and after paying its liabilities to donate the paper to the Oregon and Columbia River General Conference. This was done, and the conference named turned the paper over to a joint stock company composed of members of the conference of which George W. Stayer is president, Rev. Alfred Kummer, secretary and treasurer and Rev. A. J. Hanson, business manager. Rev. H. K. Hines was selected as editor under the new management. He served for eight years and during that time the subscription list largely increased and the paper was placed on a good financial basis. In 1888 Rev. W. S. Harrington became editor--a position he still holds. The present circulation of the Advocate is about twenty-four hundred copies.
After the suspension of the Advertiser the next newspaper venture in Portland, in connection with the secular press, was the Daily Evening Tribune, which was first issued in January, 1865. Col. Van Cleve and Ward Latter were its editors. It had a brief career, suspending within a month from date of issue.
The Oregon Herald followed the Tribune, appearing March 17, 1866, with H. M. Abbott and N. L. Butler as editors and proprietors. It was started as a Democratic organ. In June, 1866, the paper was purchased by a stock company composed of some of the leading Democratic politicians of the State, among the directors being A. E. Wait, W. Weatherford, J. K. Kelly, L. F. Grover, J. S. Smith, N. L. Butler and Dr. J. C. Hawthorne. Under the new management, Beriah Brown became editor. Financially the paper was not a success, and in November, 1868, it was sold to W. Weatherford, Sylvester Pennoyer at the same time becoming its editor. A few months later Mr. Pennoyer purchased the paper, continuing as editor and publisher until July 1, 1869, when he disposed of it to T. Patterson & Co. For a time thereafter Eugene Semple was editor. The paper, however, had but a brief existence after its last sale, and was finally forced to suspend, the entire plant being disposed of at auction.
Before the suspension of the Herald, however, two new dailies entered the field, the Portland Evening Bulletin, edited by J. P. Atkinson and the Portland Evening Commercial, edited by M. P. Bull, the former appearing January 6, 1868, and the latter July [page 419] 11th, of the same year. They pursued an independent course in dealing with political questions, and made a vigorous fight to secure support, but both failed to find the road which leads to success in journalism, and after comparatively brief careers were added to the death roll of Portland newspapers.
The Portland Daily Bulletin was one of the unfortunate enter-prises connected with Ben Holladay's movements in Oregon. In furtherance of his vast schemes he estimated at its full value the aid of a newspaper which would be absolutely within his control. With this idea in view he purchased the plant which had been used in the publication of the San Francisco Times and removed it to Portland. The Bulletin made its appearance in 1870, with James O'Meara as editor. In 1872, H. W. Scott was associated in the editorship, but remained only a few months when T. B. Odeneal took charge. Under Odeneal's editorial management the paper continued until it suspended publication in October, 1875. It was one of the most disasterous ventures in the history of Portland journalism, having cost nearly $200,000, more than its entire income during the brief years of its existence. The plant was sold at auction, and was scattered throughout Oregon, Washington and Idaho and is still doing its duty in connection with country journalism.
Two more dailies made their appearance in 1875, The Daily Bee and the Daily Evening Journal. The Bee was first issued November 2, 1875. It was a diminutive paper to begin with and was circulated free by its publisher, D. H. Stearns, until December, of the same year, when it was enlarged and run as a Republican journal. During the greater part of its existence it was controlled by Mr. Stearns, but in the meantime it was at different times published by companies and for about eighteen months was owned by W. S. Chapman. In 1878 Chapman sold it back to Stearns who continued its publication until June, 1880, when he disposed of it to Atkinson & Farrish. The last named proprietors, in August, 1880, changed its name to the Portland Bulletin, and for a year or two thereafter it appeared under this name, finally suspending in the latter part of 1882. [page 420]
The Daily Evening Journal had an existence of only a few months, being purchased in July, 1876, by A. Noltner, who six months previously had commenced the publication of the Weekly Standard. After the purchase of the Journal, the Standard was issued as a daily evening paper until September, 1879, when it was changed to a morning publication. Under Mr. Noltner's management the Standard became one of the best known papers the Democrats have ever had in Oregon. For a time it was the official paper of the city and enjoyed a well merited period of prosperity. In June, 1885, Mr. Noltner sold the paper to S. B. Pettingill, who continued it as editor and proprietor, until February, 1886, when it ceased to exist.
The Evening Post, Daily Evening Chronicle and the Northwest News complete the list of Portland dailies which for a time were published, but for various reasons were not successful. The Post made its appearance in March, 1882, with Nat L. Baker as editor, but like the Chronicle, which appeared about two years later under E. G. Jones as proprietor, it had an existence of only a few months. The News had a much more extended and interesting history. It appeared in January, 1883, with Nathan Cole as editor. Mr. Cole, who came from St. Louis, conducted the paper about a year and a half when it was sold to Francis M. Thayer and A. N. Hamilton, both of whom had had experience in journalism, the former at Evansville, Indiana, and the latter at Salt Lake, Utah. Mr. Thayer assumed the editorial and Mr. Hamilton the business management of the paper. After more than two years experience and the expenditure of large sums of money in conducting the paper, and failing to make it a success, they sold out to a stock company, composed of a number of the leading republican politicians of the city. Under the new order of things James O'Meara was selected as editor and J. D. Wilcox became business manager. As a financial venture the paper did not improve under the new management. It continued to be a great absorber of capital with no adequate returns for the money invested. This state of affairs continued until the stockholders refused to advance the necessary funds to keep it alive and in consequence it suspended in October, 1888, having cost from the time it [page 421] was started until its career closed, more than $200,000, above its entire receipts.
Among Portland publications, not previously mentioned and other than the daily papers, the Oregon Deutsch Zeitung, a weekly German paper, comes next in chronological order. It was issued in the early part of 1867 by C. A. Laudenberger, by whom its publication was continued until it suspended in 1884. It was the first paper printed in the German language in Portland. The Staats Zeitung, another German weekly, was first issued in October, 1877 with Dr. J. Folkman as editor and proprietor. This publication has since been continued and is recognized as the leading German paper in the State. A daily issue was commenced in December, 1887, and has proven a successful venture. Dr. Folkman is still editor and proprietor, but is assisted in the editorial management by F. A. Myer.
Portland has still another German weekly, the Freie Press, which was established in March, 1885, by vonOtterstedt & Sittig. Von Otterstedt has since retired and Bruno Sittig has become sole proprietor.
The decade from 1870 to 1880 witnessed the birth of numerous weeklies, some of which still survive, but most of them are either dead or have been merged in other publications. The following comprises the names under which they originally appeared: Catholic Sentinel, Pacific Rural Press, Columbia Churchman, New Northwest, Sunday Welcome, Commercial Reporter, Monthly Musical Journal, North Pacific Rural Spirit, Good Templar, Sunday Mercury, West Shore, Temperance Star, Northwest Farmer and Dairyman, Weekly News, Willamette Farmer, The Churchman, Oregon Literary Vidette, East Portland Call, The Vindicator, and Democratic Era. Of the foregoing, the Catholic Sentinel was started in February, 1870, under the immediate encouragement and authority of Very Rev. J. F. Fierens, Vicar General and then acting Bishop of Oregon. The inception of the enterprise was due to H. L. Herman and J. F. Atkinson, who were the publishers for the first two years of its existence. Mr. Herman continued the publication for a few years after Mr. Atkinson withdrew, and until a joint stock company composed of the archbishops of the diocese, the [page 422] Bishops of Vancouver and Nesqually and the Catholic clergy generally, took control of the paper. In 1881 Joseph R. Wiley became editor. He was succeeded by the present editor, M. G. Munly, in February, 1886. The Sentinel is devoted to the dissemination of religious matters pertaining to the Catholic Church and is the only Catholic newspaper in the Pacific Northwest. It is extensively circulated in Oregon, Washington, Montana, Idaho and British Columbia.
The New Northwest, a weekly publication, was began in May, 1871, by Mrs. Abigail Scott Duniway. Its purposes and aims were outlined in its first issue as being "devoted to the enfranchisement of women and full emancipation of speech, press and people from every fetter of law or custom that retards the free mental and physical growth of the highest type of humanity." Under Mrs. Duniway it became a vigorous and well known champion of women suffrage, while it possessed much merit as a literary paper. It was sold in January, 1887, to O. P. Mason, who conducted it as a literary journal until March, 1889, at which time having purchased the Pacific Farmer, which had been started in 1879, by the Frank brothers, as the Farmer and Dairyman, he discontinued the New Northwest and has since published the Pacific Farmer, a weekly agricultural journal.
The Commercial Reporter, the predecessor of the Portland Journal of Commerce, was first issued in August, 1872, by J. R. Parrish, and published by him for two years. It afterwards passed into the hands of George H. Himes, J. Perchin and S. Turner, each retaining it for a short time. In July, 1874, J. F. Atkinson became the owner, publishing it alone until January 1, 1880, when J. R. Parrish purchased a half interest in the paper, after which its name was changed to the Commercial Reporter and Journal of Commerce. In 1884, the paper became the property of a stock company, when the present name, Portland Journal of Commerce, was adopted. It is an eight page folio, issued weekly, and exclusively devoted to commercial and shipping interests. A. C. A. Perkes is editor. Soon after the present company became owner of the paper, the Commercial Herald, started in 1883, by D. C. Ireland & Co., was absorbed by purchase. [page 423]
The Columbia Churchman, after passing through many vicisitudes, at times being issued weekly, semi-monthly and monthly, has now became known as the Oregon Churchman, and is issued monthly. It is the organ of the Episcopal Church in Oregon.
The North Pacific Rural Spirit was founded in 1878, by W. W. Baker. He afterwards purchased the Willamette Farmer and has united the two papers under the name of The North Pacific Rural Spirit and Willamette Farmer. It is an agricultural and stock journal and is issued weekly. Mr. Baker has associated with him in its publication his two sons, Frank C. and J. Van S., under the firm name of W. W. Baker & Sons.
The Oregon Literary Vidette, East Portland Call, The Vindicator, and Democratic Era were all weekly issues, published in East Portland. The first named was published by E. O. Norton, and issued in 1879. It had an existence of a year or two. The others mentioned died in. their extreme youth.
The West Shore is one of the most successful of the journalistic ventures which have been started in Portland in recent years. It was founded in August, 1875, by L. Samuel, who has ever since been the sole proprietor. At first it was a small eight page four column monthly paper illustrated with stock cuts purchased in the east and a few local cuts made in San Francisco. The undertaking was liberally supported and proved such a success that in September, 1878, the publication was enlarged to a thirty-two page quarto and lithographic illustrations began to be used. Gradually the purchased cuts were dropped and only new and original ones were used. In January, 1884, the number of pages was increased to forty-eight, and three years later it was changed to the size of Harper's Magazine and the number of pages increased to seventy-two. In 1888 it was again enlarged to a quarto size and still maintained at seventy-two pages. September 14, 1889, it was converted into a weekly, in which form it has since been published, its chief illustrations being in colors and tints, and is published jointly from Portland and Spokane Falls, Washington. It is profusely illustrated with finely executed cuts representing the scenery and the architectural improvements in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana [page 424] and British Columbia, while the literary character of the journal is of a high grade. It has secured a large circulation throughout the country and is doing an excellent work in properly representing the resources and advantages of the Pacific Northwest. Mr. Samuel is a publisher of experience and rare business judgment and the success of the West Shore is almost solely due to his efforts.
The Sunday Mercury is the successor of a weekly paper known as the Mercury, started at Salem in 1870 by Wm. Thompson and several other gentlemen. A year later Thompson became sole proprietor, remaining as such for several years, when he sold the paper to Walter S. Moss, who removed it to Portland in 1880, and began its publication as the Sunday Mercury. In 1883 it was purchased by the Mercury Publishing Company by which it is still published. Frank Vaughn is secretary of the company and B. P. Watson,. manager.
The Sunday Welcome was first issued August 14, 1875, with J. F. Atkinson and James O'Meara as publishers. O'Meara subsequently withdrew and Atkinson continued it alone until January 1, 1880, when J. F. Farrish became associated with him. They continued it until the present publishers, Sutherland and Burnett, gained control. It is now issued Saturday evening.
Of the papers not previously mentioned, now published at Portland, the Weekly Pacific Express, Oregon Times and The World complete the list. The first named is the successor of the Prohibition Star, started at Salem in 1885. In 1888 it was moved to Portland when the present name was adopted. Major J. F. Sears had editorial charge for about a year after the removal to this city and was assisted by H. S. Lyman. After the retirement of Major Sears, Mr. Lyman continued its editorial management until the present editor, G. M. Miller, took charge of the paper. J. M. C. Miller is business manager. The Express is a general reform advocate; is the champion of the Knights of Labor, Union Labor Party and the recognized organ of the Women's Christian Temperance Union and the Prohibition Party.
The World is a democratic weekly, and was founded in 1885 by A. Noltner, who remained editor and proprietor until his appointment [page 425] as Collector of Customs in 1886, when he sold the paper to J. W. Young. Mr. Young ran it about a year when he disposed of it to McCall & Newell, by whom it is still published.
The Oregon Times is another democratic weekly. It was started in May, 1886, by Nathan L. Baker, by whom it is still published. It is a seven column eight page paper and circulates principally in Oregon.
The newspaper mortuary record from 1880 to 1890 embraces journals of every possible appearance and character, all of which passed away in early youth. A few reached two years of age but most of them never celebrated a birthday. The newspaper crafts launched between these two dates and floundered before they had voyaged far, are, as accurately as possible, embraced in the following list: Oregon Farmer, an agricultural weekly, published by W. L. Eppinger; Vox Populi, published by Paul M. Brennan; The Portland Sunday Chronicle, by J. F. Atkinson; Rising Sun, a weekly, devoted to spiritualism, by Mrs. L. L. Brown; Pacific Overseer, a weekly organ of Ancient Order of United Workmen, by C. A. Wheeler; Christian Herald, by Stanley & Wolverton; Polaris, a religious weekly, Rev. J. H. Acton; Farmers' Gazette, by W. E. Evans; Oregon Siftings; Portland Weekly Times, by Cook & Shepard; Avaut Courier, by Frank D. Smith; Kane's Illustrated West, a monthly by T. F. Kane; Northern Pacific Union; Oregon and Washington Farmer, S. A. Clark, and The Hesperion, by R. A. Miller.