The influence of newspapers in the development of a new country and the education and enlightenment of an old one can hardly be overestimated. "To the pioneer journalists—often consuming their energies for inadequate remuneration—is due much credit for the rapid march of civilization. Among modern benefactors there are none, perhaps, that fail to receive rewards commensurate with their services to a greater degree than the pioneer newspaper men in the frontier towns. Often in the same person is found the compositor, pressman, reporter, editor, business manager and collector, who is inevitably burdened with a multiplicity of duties. The labor and cost to patience and brains in the publication of a paper in a frontier town, with limited material and means, is beyond the comprehension of those who know naught about it by experience. It is a work that demands great resources to draw upon.
"Newspapers, more than all other agencies, advertise a new country: through their instrumentality immigration is stimulated. To them is given an enviable opportunity to exert a salutary influence upon the community. They are in great measure the guardians of the country's reputation. To the editor, also, is given the coveted privilege of making and elevating the moral sentiment of the people. The newspaper becomes more and more the educator of the public." In Whitman county publishers and editors have been and still are intelligent, aggressive, public spirited and awake to the best interests of the country. In many instances the earliest toilers in the journalistic profession have been replaced by others, but the results of their efforts continue, and the present workers have entered into their labors.
On September 24, 1877, the first click of type was heard in the section of Washington Territory east of the Cascade mountains and north of the Snake river. The compositor was preparing in Colfax the initial number of the Palouse Gazette, which five days later issued from the primitive press procured for the purpose. The paper was a six- column "patent inside" sheet, and the enterprising men who produced this pioneer journal of the section above described styled themselves at the head of the first column as Kellogg & Hopkins. The paper was published in its original size until May, 1878, when it was enlarged to seven columns. In June, 1879, the "patent" side was discarded and the paper became an "all home" publication. At this time, also, E. L. Kellogg, the senior partner of the firm, withdrew, leaving Mr. Hopkins in sole possession of the business.
By the winter of 1880-1 the business of the paper had grown to such proportions that increased facilities were demanded, and a steam press was added to the plant. The size of the paper was again increased. In May, 1882, a book bindery was established in connection, and this adjunct enjoyed a brilliant though brief career. The plant was destroyed in the great fire which three months later wrought its work of destruction in the town.
In February, 1877, the firm of Hopkins & Chase took charge of the paper, and four months afterward-the firm name became Chase & Chapman. After another enlargement had been made in 1877, the Gazette became a nine-column, four-page paper and the largest of its kind in the territory. It showed its herculean strength and energy in the fall of 1888, by publishing the largest and most complete special edition ever issued in Whitman county before or since. This edition contained much historical and descriptive matter of great value concerning this section, and we have frequently been placed under obligation to it in investigating the condition obtaining at that period.
This paper, now known as the Colfax Gazette, is at present the exclusive property of Ivan Chase. It continues to be, as it always has been, a vigorous and public-spirited advocate of whatever tends toward progress and development. In politics it has ever been consistently Republican, and in all of the campaigns of the county and state it has proven a powerful factor.
As the country developed several attempts were made to maintain a rival paper in Colfax, but none of them ever seemed to have any lasting success until in the fall of 1885 a stock company was formed comprising James Ben-ton, W. J. Hamilton, C. H. Warner, F. M. Wade, David Marsh and E. C. Warner, for the purpose of establishing a Democratic paper. On October 2, 1885, the first number of the journal, the Colfax Commoner, made its appearance. It was an eight-column folio, "patent outside" publication, and was printed on a Washington hand-press. A number of improvements were made on the paper during the nine months ensuing, but it was not until October, 1886, that any decided step forward was taken. A power press was then purchased and the "patent" portion discontinued. Thus, while the size of the paper remained the same, three additional columns of news were given to its subscribers. On July 15, 1887, another advance was made, the paper being then enlarged to a six-column quarto.
Three months subsequent to the starting of the paper Beriah Brown and E. C. Warner had purchased all the stock, becoming proprietors of the entire enterprise, and in May, 1888, E. C. Warner became the sole owner. He continued such until the fall of 1890, when a half interest in the paper was purchased by George W. Larue. The names of Messrs. Warner and Larue continued to appear at the first inside column head until December, 1895, when their plant was leased by Yelle & Treisch, who ran it until March, 1897. The management then passed to Warner & Treisch, and a few months later Mr. Treisch retired. Mr. Larue's connection with the paper became severed sometime during the year 1896.
In May, 1898, William Goodyear, a well-known journalist of the county, who had for years edited a paper at Palouse, took charge of the Commoner, and he has continued at its head ever since.
In its initial number the Commoner stated that it would ever endeavor to uphold the right and attack the wrong. We believe it has adhered to this policy with unswerving fidelity throughout all the years of its history, and to its efforts in this direction its success is, no doubt, largely attributable. It has ever supported the issues of the Democratic party with vigor and ability, and with it and its able political opponent up the street, the questions before the people in every campaign have been quite thoroughly argued pro and con.
In 1892 the management started to publish a "Daily Commoner," but though the paper met with a cordial reception from the public, and though it merited success, it failed to survive the financial stringency.
In 1888, according to the Palouse Gazette, there were in the county besides the Colfax papers, six weeklies, as follows: The Enterprise, at Garfield, published by Elder & Gwinn; the News, at Palouse, by I. I. Hughes; the Boomerang, at Palouse, by E. H. Orcutt; the Eagle, at Colton, by C. L. Gowell; the Journal, at Uniontown, by C. W. Herman, and the Rustler, at Rosalia, by Matthews & Baker.
We will not undertake the task of tracing the history of the papers being published at present in the county. Most of them have changed hands so many times that it would be difficult to find the details of their history, even if such were necessary, but for future reference an enumeration of them may not be amiss.
They are: The Rosalia Citizen, the Oakesdale Tidings, the Tekoa Manitou, the Garfield Enterprise, the Palouse Republic, the Pullman Herald and the Pullman Tribune. Of these the Tribune enjoys the distinction of being owned and edited by a woman, Mrs. M. H. Sargent being the enterprising lady in charge. The paper was established in 1891, by J. J. Murray and H. M. Brainard. About two years later Mr. Brainard became the sole proprietor. He continued as such until January, 1895, when a stock company was formed, with Mr. Brainard as manager. Prof. E. R. Lake and W. V. Windus assisted in the editing until March 1, 1895, when Mrs. Sargent purchased Brainard's interest, one-third of the stock, and assumed the management. For about three and a half years W. V. Windus continued to act as political editor. On December 31, 1900, Mrs. Sargent purchased the entire remaining stock, and she has ever since been sole proprietor and editor. The paper is a seven-column folio, with "patent outside,” is independent in politics and in a healthy financial condition. It is one of the brightest sheets in the county and a credit to its fair owner.
Source: An Illustrated history of Whitman County, Washington
San Francisco, Calif.: W.H. Lever, 1901 by Marcus Whitman and James K. Kelly
Transcribed by FoFG