History of Early Portland Newspapers

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.

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 seleted 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 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 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.

The Columbia Churchman, after passing through many vicissitudes, 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 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 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.



MLA Source Citation:

Harvey Whitefield Scott. History of Portland, Oregon: with Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of Prominent Citizens and Pioneers. Portland, Oregon. D. Mason & Company, 1890. AccessGenealogy.com. Web. 16 December 2014. http://www.accessgenealogy.com/oregon/history-of-early-portland-newspapers.htm - Last updated on Apr 12th, 2013


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