Printing and Newspapers of Washington

The first printing done in this section was at the missionary station of Lapwai, in what was then Oregon, and was afterward Washington, and finally Idaho. The printer was Edwin O. Hall of the Honolulu mission, subsequently editor of the Polynesian. Accompanied by his wife, he visited Lapwai in the spring of 1839, bringing with him a small press and material, to the value of $500, a present from the Honolulu converts. With this he instructed Smith and Rogers of Lapwai in the printing art, remaining until 1841, during which time translations of a part of the book of Matthew, some hymns, and school primers were printed in the Nez Percé language for Spalding’s use in teaching. The historic press was placed among the public relics of Oregon.

The earliest newspaper published in Washington was the Columbian, first issued at Olympia, Sept. 11, 1852, by J. W. Wiley and T. F. McElroy. The press on which it was printed was the one on which the first number of the Oregonian was printed. It was an old Ramage, and was discarded by Dryer after a year or two, purchased for Olympia, sent to Port Townsend, and thence on L. B. Hastings’ schooner to its destination. In March 1853 Wiley retired from the Columbian, which had remained neutral in politics, devoting itself to the establishment of the territory, and was succeeded by J. J. Beebe, who remained in the firm only four months, retiring July 13th.

On the 17th of Sept. McElroy retired, and Matt. K. Smith took charge of the paper. This proprietorship lasted until Dec. 3d, when J. W. Wiley and A. M. Berry appeared as publishers, Wiley being editor, and the Colombian was changed to the Washington Pioneer, ‘a straight-out, radical democratic journal.’ In Feb. 1854 the name was changed to Pioneer and Democrat, which it retained during the most interesting portion of territorial history. At the same time R. L. Doyle joined the publishing firm, and Berry, going cast to attend to the printing of the territorial statutes, for which they had taken a contract, died in Ang. at Greenland, N. H. Doyle had issued a prospectus of a journal to be called the Northwest Democrat, in Nov. 1853, but was induced to come into the arrangement with Wiley as above. On Dec. 16, 1854, George B. Cloudy became associated with the publishers of the Pioneer and Democrat, and in Aug. 1855 became sole publisher, Wiley remaining editor; but in Aug. 1850 retired, and C. Furste became publisher in connection with Wiley. The latter soon drew out of the publishing business, leaving Furste to conduct is alone, who also joined the editorial staff in Feb. 1857. In May 1858 Furste became sole editor and proprietor. He sold the paper to James Lodge in Nov. 1860 who assumed the entire control, but the paper was discontinued in the spring of 1861. Wiley died March 30, 1860, at Olympia, in his 40th year.

The second newspaper published in Washington was the Puget Sound Courier, a Whig journal issued at Steilacoom May 13, 1855, by William B. Affleck and E. T. Gunn for about one year. The Courier was revived in Olympia in Jan. 1871, and issued weekly by the Paget Sound Printing Co. Bagley and Harned published it from June 1 to Nov. 15, 1873, when the firm became C. B. Bagley & Co., and in Nov. 1875 C. B. Bagley alone. The first number of the Puget Sound Daily Courier was issued in Jan. 1872, and in Dec. 1874 it suspended for lack of support, but reissued as tho Daily Courier early in 1877, having consolidated with the Olympian, which had a brief existence. The Washington. Republican was first published at Steilacoom April 3, 1857, Frank Balch editor, and W. B. Affleck printer. It was designed to promulgate the principles of the then new Republican Party, and advocate. the election of W. H. Wallace to the office of delegate to congress. When it had served its purpose it suspended. Ebey’s Journal, MS., v. 16.

The Puget Sound Herald, published by George W. Lee and Charles Prosch at Steilacoom, March 12, 1858, was printed on the press, which had served for the Courier and Republican in turn. It passed entirely into the hands of Prosch the second month of its existence, who undertook the somewhat difficult task of publishing an impartial and politically independent newspaper. That he succeeded, by laboring for the material interests of the Puget Sound region, in keeping his journal alive through several years of the most depressing period of its financial history, proves his ability as a journalist. The Northern Light was started at Whatcom about the 1st of July, 1858, by W. Bauman & Co., but suspended in Sept. when that place was deserted. The Port Townsend Register, conducted by Travers Daniels, was first issued at that place Dec. 23, 1859. It was devoted to news, literature, and local interests. In March 1860 Daniels returned to Virginia and Mr Whitacre took charge. The paper did not long survive, being suspended in August. It was, however, subsequently revived by P. M. O’Brien and H. M. Frost as publishers, and H. L. Sutton editor, with democratic politics. The North-West began its precarious existence early in July 1860 at Port Townsend. It was conducted by E. S. Dyer in the beginning, who was independent in politics. He issued but one or two numbers, however, before John F. Damon, the publisher, took the editorial chair, who conducted a republican paper for a time with no very encouraging prospects, when it expired in Dec. 1861. The Vancouver Chronicle was started in July 1860 by L. E. V. Coon and John M. Murphy, and devoted to the material interests of the territory. In the following Sept. Murphy retired from the Chronicle. H. G. Struve edited it until about the close of 1861, when the name was changed to Vancouver Telegraph, and Urban E. Hicks assumed editorial control. The Register was subsequently revived and is still published.

The Olympia Washington Standard was founded by John Miller Murphy Nov. 17, 1860. In March 1861 was founded the Weekly Pacific Tribune of Olympia, a republican paper, which at first appeared without individual sponsors, but which, having the territorial patronage, took a longer lease of life than many of its predecessors. In 1866 R, W. Hewitt had charge of the paper, followed in 1867 by Charles Prosch & Co., in 1863 by Charles Prosch, later by Charles Prosch & Sons, in 1870 by Charles Prosch & Son, and in 1872 by Charles Prosch again, and in 1873 by Thomas W. Prosch. In Dec. 1867 an attempt was made to establish a daily, which was not successful; but on the 4th of Oct., 1869, a daily was published, the first of the Olympia Daily Pacific Tribune regular issues. The Daily Pacific Tribune appeared in Tacoma in 1874, with Thomas W. Prosch editor, and in Seattle in 1875 with the same editor, who was succeeded in 1878 by E. A. Turner, Charles Prosch remaining publisher. The Overland Press was next started at Olympia by Alonzo M. Poe, publisher and editor, presumably to fill the place of the Pioneer and Democrat with the Democratic Party. It was first issued in July 1861, and survived for a year or two, being edited by B. F. Kendall at the time of his death in Jan. 1862, soon after which it suspended. In the mean time, the eastern portion of Washington being rapidly settled, a paper was started at Walla. Walla called the Northern Light, in September 1861, by Daniel Dodge, who had contemplated setting up his establishment at Seattle. It had a brief existence.

The Washington Statesman followed on the 29th of November, published by N. Northrop, R. B. Smith, and R. R. Rees. It was subsequently purchased by W. H. Newell, formerly connected with the Dalles Mountaineer, who used it in support of democratic principles down to the time of his death, twenty years later. It was ably conducted, and prospered, its name being changed to Walla Walla Statesman after a few mouths. Nehemiah Northrop was a native of New York. In 1853 he, in company with his brother Henry and Alonzo Leland, published the Portland Democratic Standard. In 1859 he was one of the proprietors of the San Francisco Evening Journal, but sold his interest in 1860, and the following year removed to Walla Walla. He died in Feb. 1863 of consumption, at the age of 27 years. Olympia Wash. Standard, Feb. 28, 1863.

The Golden Age was first published at Lewiston, then in Washington territory, August 11, 1862, by A. S. Gould, who had been connected with a Portland paper, and was subsequently engaged in journalism in Utah. It passed into the hands of Alonzo Leland, who has conducted it for many years. In politics it was republican under Gould and democratic under Leland. The Walla Walla Messenger was started at that place by R. B. Smith and A. Leland in Aug. 1862, but was not long published. On the 15th of August 1863, the first number of the Washington Gazette appeared without the names of editor or publisher. On the 10th day of Dec. it reappeared as the Seattle Gazette, with W. B. Watson editor, and ran until June 1864, when it suspended, Watson being elected to the legislature on the republican ticket.

The Washington Democrat was next started at Olympia in Nov. 1864, which, as its name indicated, was devoted to anti-administration politics, its editor being U. E. Hicks. It had but a brief existence. The Far West was a magazine published by E. W. Foster at Olympia, devoted to morals, religion, health, education, and agriculture. Like all other such publications, it failed because it could not compete with better one received daily from older communities. It was first issued in 1865. The Olympia Transcript first appeared November 30, 1867, published by E. T. Gunn and J. N. Gale. The following year T. F. McElroy and S. D. Howe were principal owners, but about 1870 it passed entirely into the hands of Gunn, who owned and conducted it to the time of his death in 1885. In polities it was independent.

The Weekly Message was first published at Port Townsend by A. Pettygrove in May 1867. It was a small sheet, with only a local interest. It was succeeded by the Argus, also edited by Pettygrove, and later by C. W. Philbrick. The Territorial Republican issued its first number Aug. 10, 1868, published by J. R. Watson. As its name implied, it was in the interest of republicanism. After running one year the Republican Printing Co. became its publishers, but it was extinct before 1872. The Weekly Intelligencer, of Seattle, published its initial number on the 5th of Aug. 1867. It was neutral in politics, and issued by S. L. Maxwell. It began publishing a tri-weekly Aug. 9, 1870, and a daily in Sept. following. The Walla Walla Union, the first republican paper published in the Walla. Walla Valley, issued its initial number on the 17th of April 1869, being published by an association of citizens. In May, R. M. Smith S. Co. were announced as publishers. It continued, with P. B. Johnson editor, as an able country journal. The Walla Walla Watchman was a denominational paper. The Alaska Times, conducted by Thomas G. Murphy, was first issued at Sitka, April 23, 1869, but owing to lack of support and changes in the military department, was removed to Seattle October, 23, 1870, where it was published weekly as a Sunday paper for a year or two longer, when it suspended. The Puget Sound Dispatch was founded in 1869 by G. H. Larrabee and Beriah Brown. Brown was from Wisconsin, and had been editor of a republican paper at Sacramento, California, and of a democratic paper at San Francisco, and was what was known as a copperhead in war times. Though an able writer, Larrabee soon dropped out of the journal, and Brown conducted it alone in the interests of democracy. In 1878, after several changes, it was merged in the Intelligencer. It was the first paper to publish a daily. The North Pacific Rural, a farmer’s journal, and the Post were both started in 1878. The Post was soon consolidated with the Intelligencer. The Seattle Evening Herald was first issued July 5, 1882, by a company consisting of W. G. C. Pitt, T. H. Bates, and Thaddeus Hanford. It was printed with the material of the old Pacific Tribune. The Mirror was issued as a temperance journal, the Sunday Star a society paper, both of Seattle. The Temperance Echo was published at Olympia by J. H. Munson, in 1872, as the organ of the grand lodge of the good Templars, devoted to temperance, education, and morality. The Kalama Beacon, issued first in May 1870, was owned and controlled by the Northern Pacific railroad company, and published in its interest. It was suspended when the railroad work was temporarily discontinued in Washington territory. The North Pacific Coast, a semi-monthly journal devoted to the dissemination of information concerning Washington, was first published at New Tacoma, Dec. 15, 1879, presumably in the interest of the land department of the Northern Pacific railroad company. No names of publishers or editors appeared. The Weekly Ledger, an independent journal, ‘devoted to the development of the resources of Washington, began publication at New Tacoma by Radebaugh & Co. in April 1880. Then there was the Tacoma News; also the Bellingham Bay Mail, edited and published by James Powers, republican in politics; the Vancouver Independent, W. Byron Daniels editor; the Spirit of the West, Walla Walla, B. M. Washburne editor, independent in politics; Olympia Northwest Farmer; the Dayton News, founded in 1874 by A. J. Cain; the Waitsburg Times; and Columbia Chronicle, of eastern Washington; and the weekly Puget Sound Express, Steilacoom, Julius Dickens editor.


Bancroft, Hubert H. Bancroft Works, Volume 31, History Of Washington, Idaho, and Montana, 1845-1889. San Francisco: The History Company. 1890.

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