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THE FIRST “OREGONIAN”

ISSUED NEARLY FIFTY YEARS AGO, IN TERRITORIAL DAYS.

Features of the Paper-Copy Framed and in Possession of State Historical Society.

PORTLAND, DEC. 30, ,<1899>—(To the Editor.)--Portland, O.T., Wednesday, December 4, 1850” is the date of the first issue of The Oregonian, a copy of which lies before the writer as these lines are written. The page is 16 x22 inches in size, with six columns of printed matter. The first page after the usual prospectus, contains two stories, “The Wrapper—a Legend of the West” and “The Fashionable Church,” the last being continued by one column on page 4. The remainder of that page is filled up by one column of the selected “Wit and Humor,” and the following advertisers: John S. Egan, dealer in paints, etc.; Adams & Co.’s express; James King, of William, banker, San Francisco (it will be remembered that his murder in 1856 created the vigilance committee); George R. Parburt, lawyer, San Francisco; Barnum house; San Francisco, John Mitchell, Adam Cannon and Thomas  Spooner, proprietors; Turnbull & Walton, commission merchants, San Francisco; Packet Line between Portland and San Francisco, the barks Ann Smith, Drew and brigs Tarquina, Molthrop, being in commission, with Stark & Co., as San Francisco agents and Couch & Co., Portland agents; Couch & Co., also announce the willingness to sell or charter “the A-1 coppered and copper-fastened fast sailing brig Emma Preston, 135, 85-95 tons burthen”, A. P. Dennison, agent, Portland, states that the steamer Columbia will run twice a week from the foot of the Clackamas rapids to Astoria, touching at Milwaukie, Portland, Vancouver and St. Helens; Couch & Co., Portland, and Allan, McKinley & Co., Oregon City, announce that the Tumwata” and “Skukum Chuck,” Captain James Coburn will run regularly between the two places; Z. H. Webber and A. B. Hallock announce themselves house carpenters and ship builders; Stephen Coffin calls attention to the fact that he has for sale pickles, brushes, medicine chests, Manilla sugar, windows, books and stationery, brass clocks, writing paper, goods for the Indian trade; the proprietors of the town of Willamette—S. M. Holderness, G. W. and A. G. Walling, and C. W. Savage—situated at the “foot of Clackamas rapids, on the west side of the Willamette river,” call attention to its desirable location; A. A. Durham wants to sell lumber at his mill at Oswego, the names of John H. Couch and Benjamin Stark, under the firm name of Couch & Co., appear as “bankers, wholesale and retail merchants”; while Stark & Co., composed of Couch and John S. Sherman, were located in San Francisco, and Sherman & Stark in New York; G. Montgomery made boots and shoes, and warranted them to be waterproof; John W. W. McKay had a boot and shoe store on Front Street, between Pine and Ash; George H. Flanders announce himself as a wholesale and retail merchant. The fifth column contains a full-grown prospectus, and an announcement form D. H. Lownsdale, special agent of the postoffice department; and the sixth in advertisement of John Ricketson, dealer in dry goods, clothing, boots, shoes, etc. on Front street and Lemuel Bills, pump and aqueduct builder. He says he is prepared to mold candles at reasonable prices and offers to pay cash for tallow. Location, Water Street between Jefferson and Columbia. This column is closed by insertion of the law passed at the first session of the 31st congress, governing Indian matters in Oregon territory, signed by Howell Cobb, speaker of the house, and Millard Fillmore, vice-president, as president of the senate, and approved June 6, 1850, by Zachary Taylor, president.

On page two E. M. Geiger is “authorized to receive subscriptions.” “To the people of Oregon,” Mr. Dryer, the founder, addressed himself, stating his political and moral convictions in a column article. Then an item is given showing that the paper has been made the official organ of the United States, followed by brief editorials to the “Oregon Land Hill” and “Public Roads.” Then a column editorial is given explaining a provoking delay in the issuance of the paper; then follow items about the bark “Gold Hunter”, “Portland & Valley Railroad,” the advantages of fore-and-aft schooners over square-rigged vessels for the Oregon trade; the lack of wood sidewalks; the receipt of the “Western Star” from Milwaukie; the annual message of Governor Gaines; prospect of Judge James M Crane being elected to the senate in California, to succeed John C. Fremont; prices current, and prospect of enlargement on the arrival of the new Washington hand press, which is on the way from New York. W.W. Chapman also has a communication on the “Portland & Valley Railroad.”

Five columns of page 3 are filled with the remainder of Governor Gaines’ message and the Oregon Land Bill. The sixth column contains the following advertisements: James L. Loring, general merchandise, the subscriber declaring he “will sell at a small profit”; Pillow & Drew, watchmakers and jewelers, make pins and rings out of California gold; Robert Thompson, dry goods, grocers, provisions, etc.; Norris & Co.—Shubrick Norris, Gabriel Winter, B. G. Latimer—grocers and commission merchants; tanning and currying, by King, Fuller & Co.; drug store, by Welsh & Kaye, physicians and surgeons; the Astor house, where John D. Witt, offers to provide good board to any “gentleman or gentlemen” for $8 per week, and a notice dissolving the firm of Norton & Dennison--Z. C. Norton and Ami P. Dennison—and continuing the business by Z. C. Norton.

The office of The Oregonian was situated on the corner of Front and Morrison streets. Subscription, $7 per year; $4 for six months; single copies, 25 cents. Agents: C. M. K. Paulison, San Francisco: George Gibbs, Astoria; Philip Foster, Clackamas; S. H. Goodhue, Salem; A. Sulger, Hillsboro.

The paper thus described was acquired by the undersigned; as assistant secretary of the Oregon Historical Society, among a lot of old papers left by the late William G. Buffum, of Amity, Yamhill County. It will soon be framed with glass on both sides, so that all who desire can see it by calling at the rooms of the Oregon Historical Society in the City Hall.

GEORGE H. HIMES
Ass’stant Sec. Oregon Historical Society.

submitted by Jan Eves