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Historic Oregon Newspapers

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Oregon City Enterprise
[LCCN: sn84022660]
Oregon City, Clackamas County, Oregon
1866-1868

The Weekly Enterprise
[LCCN: sn85042452]
Oregon City, Clackamas County, Oregon
1868-1871

Oregon City Enterprise
[LCCN: sn94052321]
Oregon City, Clackamas County, Oregon
1871-188?

The Enterprise
[LCCN: sn94052322]
Oregon City, Clackamas County, Oregon
188?-1891

Oregon City Enterprise
[LCCN: sn00063700]
Oregon City, Clackamas County, Oregon
1891-1950

Morning Enterprise
[LCCN: sn00063701]
Oregon City, Clackamas County, Oregon
1911-1933

 

Launched in 1866 by DeWitt Clinton Ireland, the Oregon City Enterprise is one of the earliest established newspapers in Oregon, chronicling 83 years of “the Pioneer City at the Falls of the Willamette.”  A study through the paper’s pages illustrates the journey from “the pioneer Oregon of yesterday to the comfortable, modern Oregon of today” as told through the publication’s changing editors, political affiliation and name.  The Enterprise “always stood for the betterment of the town, county and state” even if it was rather conventional in spirit.

DeWitt Clinton Ireland, born on the fourth of July, 1836 in Vermont, was a rather remarkable character in the field of Oregon journalism   His newspaper career, a lifelong commitment, stretched from coast to coast. His obituary, from the January 12, 1913 edition of the Sunday Oregonian [LCCN: sn83045782], stated that he had worked for the Mishawaka Free Press [LCCN: unknown] (later known as the Mishawaka Enterprise [LCCN: sn84037951]) in Indiana and the Detroit Free Press [LCCN: sn83016680] in Michigan, and he was one of the few typesetters who could decipher Horace Greeley’s notorious handwriting at the New York Tribune [LCCN: sn83030280].  After coming to Oregon in 1861, Ireland worked on the The Dalles Daily Mountaineer [LCCN: sn89055266] until 1865 when he moved to Oregon City where he edited the Morning Oregonian [LCCN: sn83025138].

In order to promote the interests of Oregon City in conjuncture with a proposed railroad line coming through town, Ireland established the Oregon City Enterprise [LCCN: sn84022660] with the first issue appearing on Saturday, October 27, 1866.  The publication was originally a four-page, seven-column weekly that cost readers $3.00 for a year subscription.  In his salutatory, Ireland was one of the first to declare himself a “news rather than political type of editor.”  However, when politics did seep into the Enterprise Ireland took a strictly Democratic stance.

The earliest issues of the Enterprise were standard fare for the time period.  Clipped miscellany constituted the bulk of news stories since little value was placed on “editorial services.”  At this early point in Oregon journalism, “editors and publishers were, for the most part, printers or perhaps lawyers [and] copy was largely ‘reprint.’”  The paper, consequently, carried little local news at the start.  However, one of the more interesting items to come out of the early Enterprise is one of the state’s first newspaper coverage of a baseball game:  the Portland Pioneers beat the Clackamas Nine 77 to 45 on October 13, 1866.

On July 13, 1867, the paper increased to eight columns to accommodate increased advertising but would return to seven in a few years’ time.  The paper carried the typical advertisements for “cure-alls” and local merchants.  There were also announcements from the pioneer stage companies of the 1850s and ‘60s.  One such ad touted a low fare ride between Salem and Portland, only $5.00, while another boasted about comfortable new coaches.

On October 17, 1868, the Enterprise announced that the paper would move to Union County, to issue out of La Grande.  After some confusion with paperwork, the Enterprise remained in Oregon City and a month later, on November 14, the paper returned as the Weekly Enterprise [LCCN: sn85042452].  This new iteration of the paper, which continued to be published on Saturday, claimed to be an “Independent Paper for the Business Man, the Farmer and the Family Circle.”  Contents remained the same and covered stories such as the “manufacture of the telegraph cable” to connect France with the United States in 1868.  On August 7, 1869 John Myers and D. M. McKenney took over as publishers and, unlike Ireland, were all too anxious to make the Enterprise a political paper.

The following year, Anthony “Tony” Noltner, a German immigrant, purchased the paper and began editing the Enterprise on June 18, 1870.  Noltner started his newspaper career in Oregon as the “devil” in the office of the Corvallis Occidental Messenger [LCCN: sn96088331].  It was said that Noltner “was known by all newspaper men in the state, and by nearly everybody else.”  Noltner remained at the helm of the paper for the next five years.

On November 10, 1871 the Weekly Enterprise assumed its former title and was once again published as the Oregon City Enterprise [LCCN: sn94052321].  On October 29, 1875, in a rather curt notice, Noltner stated, “With this issue the Enterprise commences its tenth volume.  We have no regrets to recount for the past nor promises to make for the future, consequently we shall not trouble our readers with a lengthy article on what we shall do in time come.”  It was at this point that Noltner, who no longer wished to be associated with a political paper, sold the Enterprise, and Frank S. Dement, a native of Oregon City, became editor and publisher the following issue. Dement, vowed to make the Enterprise “eminently a newspaper, and not pander to the interest of any party.”  However, under Dement’s editorship, the Enterprise would become a Republican sheet, remaining so until the paper’s discontinuation in 1950. 

John Rock succeeded Dement in 1879 as editor.  Between 1879 and 1881 the paper increased from four to eight pages.  During this time, a “Local Matters” column appeared, focusing on the lives of local residents and other home-grown topics.  For example, from the September 22, 1881 column, readers learn that the Pope Brothers finished a new tin roof and Curtis Beals recovered nicely from typhoid fever. 

In 1884, J. A. White replaced Dement as editor, and on January 2, 1887, Edward McKeever Rands, later a Washington state senator, began editing the Oregon City Enterprise.  By 1888, the paper was once again eight pages and was now printing as the Enterprise [LCCN: sn94052322].  Formatting was always somewhat inconsistent with the Enterprise and the paper frequently experimented with the number and size of pages and columns.  For example, in 1889 the paper was an eight-page, five-column sheet, but the following year it used a four-page, eight-column layout.

In the spring of 1889, Rands sold the Enterprise to Charles Meserve, who would be editor for the next nine years.  On April 3, 1891, Meserve changed the name of the paper back to the Oregon City Enterprise [LCCN: sn00063700] yet again.  Oregon City at this point was constructing several new subdivisions to accommodate the increasing population of the town.  People were moving to the city to work in the firmly established industrial areas and the Enterprise saw a steady increase in patronage.

After the tragic death of his wife and infant child, Meserve sold the Enterprise to a group of businessmen who in turn sold it to Leslie L. Porter, a “lawyer who gave up his practice to become an editor.”  Porter saw the introduction of linotype to the Enterprise which was a great improvement over the “letter-by-letter” typesetting and allowed for much faster printing.  The Enterprise went through a slew of owners in 1906 and 1907 until finally Edward E. Brodie became editor and proprietor on February 7, 1908.

Brodie had left the competing paper, the Oregon City Courier [LCCN: sn00063698], to take on the editorship of the Enterprise.  Brodie, who already had a colorful career in journalism at that point, remained with the paper for the next three decades and proved to be an exceedingly capable editor.  In 1911, Brodie established the Morning Enterprise [LCCN: sn00063701], a daily that first appeared on January 8.  The weekly continued to be published as the Oregon City Enterprise, and the daily was published until 1933.  Brodie had also steadily enlarged the printing plant that produced the weekly and daily Enterprise, and by 1916 it was considered “one of the best all-around printing establishments in the state outside of Portland [and was] capable of making anything from rubber stamps to circus posters.”

During his time as editor-in-chief, Brodie was also an official ambassador to Siam (1921-1925), what is now Thailand, and Finland (1930-1933) and would often take extended trips overseas to attend to his governmental duties.  When Brodie was in Siam, Hal E. Hoss managed the Enterprise, and when in Finland, Harry B. Cartlidge was editor of the paper.

Brodie remained publisher until January 1, 1935, at which point he sold the Enterprise only to repurchase the paper in 1938.  Brodie died the following year, widely mourned, of a heart attack in the Oregon state capitol.  Walter W. R. May then acquired paper in October of 1943.  May would publish and edit the Enterprise until March 1, 1950 when it merged with the Banner-Courier [LCCN: sn00063699] and became the Enterprise-Courier [LCCN: sn00063703].  May became the editor-in-chief of the new publication, which enjoyed a long and popular presence in the community and was published until the 1990s.

 

Prepared with reference to:

Dennis. Historic Context Statement – A Brief History of Oregon City, City of Oregon City, 2000.

“Enterprise-Courier Established to Merge Clackamas County News Service into One Daily Outlet,” The Enterprise-Courier (Oregon City), March 1, 1950.

“Former Ambassadors and Ministers to Finland,” Helsinki, Finland Embassy of the United States.

Grammell, Fred A.  The Oregon Exchange. Vol 5-6. Grammell, 1922.

Indian Historical Society. “Mishawaka Enterprise,” Indiana Historical Society, Historic Businesses.

Lyman, W. D.  An Illustrated History of Walla Walla County, State of Washington.  San Francisco: W. H. Lever, 1901.

“Oregon City Enterprise Now is 50 Years Old,” The Sunday Oregonian (Portland), October 22, 1916.

Rowell, Geo. P. American Newspaper Directory. 16th ed., New York: Geo. P. Rowell and Co, 1884-1909.

Turnbull, George S. History of Oregon Newspapers. Portland, Oregon: Binfords & Mort, 1939.

“U.S. Ambassadors to Thailand (1882 – Present),” Bangkok, Thailand Embassy of the United States.

 

--Written by Emily Vance