Biography of David J. Schnebly

DAVID J. SCHNEBLY. – Among all the editors whose lives are sketched in this volume, Mr. Schnebly yields to none the priority, since in 1850 he was conducting the only newspaper then in Oregon.

He was born near Hagerstown, Maryland, in 1818, and from that state drew the physical completeness and mental energy for which her people have been distinguished. As a youth of seventeen he removed with his parents to Illinois, but there was greatly afflicted by the loss of his father by death. In 1840 he returned to his native state in order to pursue a course of literary study, and spent some years thereafter at Marshall College.

In 1850 he felt the impulse to give his life to the establishment of a new state on the Pacific coast, and arriving in Oregon found scope for his native abilities and for his literary acquirements as editor of the Spectator. That was the first paper established on the Pacific coast, and the only one published in Oregon in 1850. In the year following Mr. Schnebly, having gained the confidence of the people, and being well assured by all of his fitness for the position of publisher and censor of the ideas and opinions of the people of the state, purchased the establishment, and was editor and proprietor until 1854. reference to the old files of that journal show the success that attended his efforts. He sold out, however, in the latter year to W.L. Adams, M.D., now at Hood River, who changed the name to the Argus. In the meantime Mr. Schnebly had been married to Miss Margaret Painter, of Linn City. Seven children have been born to them, of whom, Phillip H., Charles P. and C. Jean are living. The eldest daughter, Mary V., the wife of Mr. F.F. Adams, died in 1887 at San Diego, California.

After leaving the Spectator, Mr. Schnebly assumed the arduous labors of rancher, taking a Donation claim of six hundred and forty acres, which, however, he disposed of in 1860 and gathered a band of cattle to begin in the stock business in the Walla Walla valley. He drove thither a large herd; but the winter following was that terribly severe season which old pioneers still remember with a shiver, and he suffered the loss of all except two horses. By this disaster he was financially stranded, but in a certain hopeless way, feeling that there was more use in action of some kind than passive acquiescence, he bought on credit six yoke of oxen and a wagon, and began freighting, employing as one of his teamsters, Ed . Ross, who subsequently became the talented editor of the Walla Walla Union. Success followed this endeavor; and in 1865 he went up north to the Spokane river, and built a toll bridge nine miles above the Falls. Meeting with a good sale of this property, he returned to Walla Walla, and in 1870 erected the flouring mill which is now owned by Dement Bros. By the failure of fortune in other respects, this enterprise proved a disaster; and he was again forced to the foot of the financial ladder.

With good courage and faith in a new country, he came in 1872 to the Kittitass valley and engaged for several years in farming. In 1883 the Kittitass Localizer was established at Ellensburgh, Washington Territory, with himself as editor and J.M. Adams as proprietor, but within eleven weeks he became sole proprietor and publisher, and has remained such to the present time. In this field Mr. Schnebly finds scope for his still unwasted vigor, and for his virile ideas. Although the senior in point of reckoning as pioneer, and also in years, of all the editors on the coast, he is still hale and active at seventy-one. Blessed with vigorous health, and retaining to a marked degree his physical powers, he belies his years by the freshness of his countenance, and the activity of his movements. The facility of his pen and the strength of his views are well known to the public; and his paper is also widely read and much sought after for its well-filled local columns.


History of the Pacific Northwest Oregon and Washington. 2 v. Portland, Oregon: North Pacific History Company. 1889.

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