George Ridgeley Broadbere editor of the Santa Ana Free Press, was born in New York city and educated at Cambridge University, England. He began the newspaper business as war correspondent while serving in the naval brigade in the Zulu war in Africa, and while there he was severely wounded. In China he did war correspondence for the London Daily News. Returning to America, he was employed on the New Orleans Picayune as reporter and traveling correspondent in Louisiana and Texas; next he was a traveling agent and correspondent for the States of the great southwest for the St. Louis Globe-Democrat; then he was on the local force of the Kansas City Times, and then going to Lawrence, Kansas, he took charge of the local pages of the Kansas Daily Tribune. In 1881 he established the Mirror at Tongawoxie, Kansas, but losing his health he was compelled to seek the high altitudes of New Mexico, where he was for some time city editor of the Albuquerque Journal; thence he came to Los Angeles and worked on the Times and the Express.
As soon as it was settled beyond dispute that Orange County was to be organized, he established the Free Press at Santa Ana, the county seat, with Lester Osborn as business manager. He recently bought out Mr. Osborn and organized a stock company under the name and title of the Free Press Publishing Company, with Dr. R. F. Burgess as treasurer. The paper, both daily and weekly, is-published in the Opera House block, corner of Fourth and Bush streets. Having had an experience of sixteen years in journalism, Mr. Broadbere understands thoroughly what is necessary to conduct a newspaper successfully.
He was married in Kansas, in 1880, to Miss Margaret J. Sappenfield, and their children are George Ridgley, Jr., Martin Ashley and Margaret Case.
The Blade was originally started as the Pacific Weekly Blade, at Santa Ana, then a small town in Los Angeles County, in September, 1886, by A. J. Waterhouse and W. F. X. Parker, both of whom had migrated from Dakota. The paper was started as a Republican journal, and as Mr. Waterhouse proved to be a man of more than ordinary ability the Blade forged ahead rapidly, and soon became the leading paper of the southeastern portion of Los Angeles County. In a few months Mr. Parker retired from the firm, and Mr. Waterhouse continued as sole manager until January, 1888, when he failed. The coming of the boom ” had encouraged him to start a daily, called the Morning Blade, leading him into other extravagances because of the flattering patronage extended to the daily and the rapid growth of the country. A suspension of the weekly followed, but an association of printers, with Joseph E. Tillotson as manager, carried the daily on as an evening paper, and kept it alive till June, 1889, when the material was sold at auction by the assignee, and was purchased by Victor Montgomery, a leading lawyer of Santa Ana, then the county seat of Orange, a new county formed out of Los Angeles County, and he was assisted by other leading citizens in the purchase of other mortgages resting on the material. The paper was then changed from an evening to a morning paper, and shortly after-ward the Weekly Blade was resurrected, the whole being under the immediate management of W. R. McIntosh. On March 6, 1890, the Blade Publishing Company was incorporated, with a capital stock of $25,000, and was organized with a board of directors composed of three Republicans and three Democrats, the policy of the paper to be independent in politics, and as purely local as it is possible to make it. John Beatty, Jr., a leading merchant of Santa Ana, is the president of the board, Judge C. W. Humphreys, treasurer, and H. A. Peabody, a practical newspaper man, the secretary and manager. The Morning Blade and the Weekly Blade are recognized as the leading papers of the county, and both have constantly increasing circulation and advertising patronage.