Tillamook, Tillamook County, Oregon
The Tillamook Herald [LCCN: sn99063850], formally established by R.M. Watson in 1896, succeeded two previous attempts at political news coverage in northwestern Oregon’s coastal Tillamook County, and ownership of the paper changed hands multiple times as the area experienced social and economic growth. Dairy farms, creameries, and agricultural endeavors defined the early economic activity of the county; the Herald featured monthly reports on milk production of leading cows and presented price changes for Tillamook and rival Wisconsin cheese as front-page news (Toll 1978, 81). Logging also became a major economic operation in the area, although the Herald expressed concern that the county’s social routines would be disrupted by transient loggers and their activities (Toll 1978, 82). As early as 1909, reports can be found on new local buildings and roads, and as the population and commercial sector of Tillamook grew, the Herald emphasized the need for a larger formal body or chamber of commerce to unify commercial interests and promote civic improvements in Tillamook (Toll 1978, 84).
The Tillamook Western Watchtower [LCCN: sn96088494], first published in 1889 in political resistance to the county’s oldest paper, the Tillamook Headlight [LCCN: sn99063849], founded in 1888, provided a weekly review of Republican politics, but printing quickly ceased due to financial problems. In 1892, John J. Stoddard and photographer A.G. Reynolds acquired the printing plant and started the Tillamook Advocate, a politically Independent weekly paper that became Republican in its views by 1894 under the leadership of editor T.B. Handley. R.M. Watson purchased the Advocate in 1895and continued with weekly printing after renaming the paper Tillamook Herald in 1896. Watson and his nephew, Rollie W. Watson, a well-known realtor, insurance salesman, and later a local Republican politician, were joint owners of the paper until Rollie assumed full ownership in 1902. In 1907, journeymen printers Dolan and Murphy bought the paper, but Rollie Watson took over again briefly in 1908, alternating control with promoter and salesman N.T. Pentreath. In 1909, Watson sold the Herald to Cloverdale newspaperman C.E. Trombley, who published two issues per week until 1922, when the paper changed back to a once-weekly. Trombley sold the paper to Allan McComb and Fred T. Mellinger in 1923, who incorporated as The Tillamook Publishing Company. In 1924, former resident of Eugene and Oregon City, Arne G. Rae, purchased the Herald and continued to publish in partnership with Mellinger until 1929, when he became field manager of the Oregon State Editorial Association and faculty of the University of Oregon School of Journalism. George Borden took over for Rae and continued to work with Mellinger until 1934, when the Herald merged with the Headlight, creating the Tillamook Headlight-Herald [LCCN: sn99063851], under the direction of Thomas Walpole and D.M. DeCook.
Tillamook County remained predominantly Anglo-American throughout the first half of the 20th century, with little to no African American, Native American, and Asian populations through the 1930s. The largest nationality group in the county was the Swiss, often successful dairy farmers. A surge in Klu Klux Klan (KKK) membership in Oregon between 1921 and 1924 is apparent in the Herald; during a 1922 political campaign, the paperpublished an advertisement from the KKK, warning the public against private Catholic schools and pushing an initiative for mandatory public school attendance to ensure a moral, uniform education for all children. In 1924 the Herald reported that the mayor of Tillamook, himself a Klansman, presented the city's key to the KKK and said it was a pleasure to welcome them to the city (Eckard 1962, 64).
The Herald’s original printing plant contained a few cases of type, one small jobber, and one Washington hand-press, and the paper acquired new type and machinery over time, including a power cylinder press and a linotype. The Herald started as a seven-column folio, changed to a four-column quarto, and then to a seven-column quarto. At the turn of the century, the paper featured topics such as the “By-laws of Tillamook Dairy Association” and coverage of the Republican Convention for upcoming elections.
Advertisements can be found from the Tillamook Lumbering Company and the Pacific Navigation Company, as well as local bakeries, drugstores, fish markets and independent craftsmen. In the early 1900s, several prominent women of Tillamook served as compositors for the Herald, including Bell and Maude Wertz, Kate Plank, Maude Nolan, Annie and Lottie Price, and Dora Donaldson. Women’s contributions are reflected in features such as the “Home Circle Department” column dedicated to mothers and a segment entitled “The Sunday School,” as well as advertisements for women’s clothing and medicines such as Lydia E. Pinkham’s Vegetable Compound and Peruna.
The Herald prided itself as “A Paper Devoted to the Interests of the People of Tillamook County,” and published articles related to farming and gardening in addition to local, state, national, and international news and entertaining fiction continued from issue to issue such as Arthur Conan Doyle’s “A Study in Scarlet.” From 1924 to 1934, the Herald included news items written and published during school terms by Tillamook high school students.
Prepared with reference to:
Eckard, V. Toy Jr. “The Klu Klux Klan in Tillamook, Oregon.” The Pacific Northwest Quarterly. 53.2 (April 1962): 60-64.
Tillamook Headlight Herald. “History of the Tillamook Herald.” Accessed 14 July 2011. http://www.tillamookheadlightherald.com/about_us/article_45b61a98-a0c0-11df-9878-001cc4c03286.html.
Toll, William. “Progress and Piety: The Klu Klux and Social Change in Tillamook, Oregon.” The Pacific Northwest Quarterly. 69.2 (April 1978): 75-85.
Turnbull, George S. History of Oregon Newspapers. Portland, Oregon: Binfords & Mort, 1939.
- Written by Sheila Rabun