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About Morning Oregonian. (Portland, Or.) 1861-1937 | View This Issue
STORY OF THE DAILY OREGON IAN TOLD BY ITS FOUNDER
NEWSPAPER THAT HAS FIFTIETH ANNIVERSARY TODAY ENCOUNTERED AND OVERCAME COUNTLESS HARDSHIPS AND STUBBORN OPPOSITION
Si : : 111 :--'-J I
R M. I. rviark.
IT has been luimittl to me (hut a
torsional narrative of the founding
of The Oregonlan and of my pari
therein U Justified and even demanded
on thla the fiftieth anniversary of the
entrance of The Orenonlan Into the
dally field. I am Induced, therefore,
to relate some of my experience
The story. It seems to me. to be com
plete should begin at a date when The
Oregonlan was a weekly newspaper.
While I personally founded The Ore
1'iiiun aa a dally. It waa already In
rxl.-tenc aa a weekly at the time I
arrived In Portland.
The first I'ifi I had of coming to
Oregon was aroused by articles pub
lished In the newspapers of Pittsburg.
In 132. descriptive of the country and
written by member of a missionary
colony of United Presb terians then
established In Oregon. I had also read
with Interest letters written by Ed
ward Jay Alien, who had come out
here In ISJ2 and had rafted down the
Snake River. My brother. Robert
Pltt'K'k. and I decided to seek our
fortunes In the West. I had no defi
nite plans as to how my own fortune
would b sought and. as I now remem
ber, no thought of entering the news
paper business came tnto my head.
I had had some experience In the
prlntir.c business In Pittsburg, but I
could hardly be said to have worked
at the printers' trade. My father was
a printer and I picked up t pesettlng.
as I was about the office a gooj deal.
J could set type very well, but It was
mainly straight" setting- of long
prtmer. My first real work at the
printers' trade was on the Pittsburg
Post at set ling op a part of President
Polk's message to Congress. Nowa
days the President gives out his mes
sage In advance and It Is all In type
and ready to be released at the proper
time. But In those das the message
w as sent out In printed form by mari.
I think after its delivery to Congress.
I remember there was great competi
tion among the newspapers to be first
In the field with the message. 1 re
call that we had a banquet and cele
bration after the work was done. .
We left Pittsburg April I. 113. go
ing by steamer to St. Louts and then
bv another steamer as far aa ft. Joe.
We left St. Jo May 4. of the same
ear. putting all our possessions upon
the prairie schooners behind the
trusty oxen. Our train was known as
the Love A Stuart train. It consisted
at first of five -wagons, but after the
stsrt was made it waa Joined .by
We bad but tittle trouble with the
Indians en our way out. although on
the Platte River w encountered, the
Sioux and they took tell to allow- us to
pass. We met many travelers turning
back who reported having had trouble
wtth the Indians, but we kept on until
we found ovrserve approaching a
great camp of Indians by the road.
The toll demanded consisted of sugar,
flour aad other provisions, which wo
voluntarily gave them for the privilege
ef passing on. Not very far away was
a Hudson's Bay poet, so that we could
have sought aid had It been necessary
and have avoided, perh.ips. the pay
ment of toll. Hut we gave of our pro
visions and rame on.
Then, again, in the Snake Illver
Valley we had rather a narrow es
cape. Some of our young men were
foolish enough to start, shooting at
marks for an.Mhlng the Indians would
give them. While they were at this
one Indian took a loaf of bread and
our bos fell Into a dispute with the
redmen over It. The next morning
when we left the Indians tried to cut
off some of our men In the rear of
the train. There was no shooting and
we drove them off. Then they drove
off some of our rattle. This waa at
Fort Boise, a military post at the
mouth of the llolse River. Wo lost a
good many cattle on account of the
Indians. We killed a few buffalo on
our way West: In fact, buffalo was the
only fresh meat we had. There was
a plenty of antelope, but they wet
very hnrd to kill.
At Hole we were obliged to ferry
ourselves across the Snake River, and
to swim our cattle. At Malheur wo
met a party from the Willamette
Valley who tried to induce us to
cross the mountains farther south.
Our teams divided. Part went up
the Malheur Valley and crossed the
mountains Into the Willamette Valley
through the pass north of Klamath,
where the railroad la now being built.
My brother went with them, but I kept
with the main party. The others lost
their way In the mountains and were
forced to abandon their outfits, but
were finally rescue J by people going
out of the valley. I rame to Portland
over the old trail through Tygh Valley
and via the road which now goes
around by the base-of Mount Hood to
We arrived In Oregon City about
October IS. having had a continuous
tramp from the first of May until that
time. We ferried ourselves across the
Wlllamrtte where the White House
stood until recentl. went over, the
hills to the edge of the county line, on
what Is now the Hoone Ferry road,
and those of the party who were old
enough took up claims. I wasn't II
years of age so I couldn't. I was not
the youngest lad In the partly, bow
ever. One of the Stephenson boys was
In the party, and was about my age.
I remained there at the claims for
two or three weeks, helping to build
a loghouse and to split rails. Then I
went down to Oregon City through
the woods to find a Job. It was very
bard because every Fall people went
Into town and there was not .enough
work for them all. The place was
over-settled. I'pon arriving at Oregon
City It was natural that the Jirst thing
I should do would be to visit the
only newspaper office. The Oregon
Spectator, and try to find a position,
but the quest was unsuccessful.
About the middle of November,
IISl. I secured employment on The
Oregonlan. The paper was started by
T. J. Dryer. December 4. 1S&. I
came Into Portland from tho country
barefooted and without a cent, and,
after looking around town for a situ
ation, went Into the Times office, then
the only other paper published ' here.
It waa located on the bank of the
river at First and Stark streets. After
I had made two or three efforts I
went to work on The Oregonlan for
my board and room. I ate at Dryer's
house, adjoining the office, and slept
on a cot In the office between the
type cases. I slept In the printing
office for two or three years. That
bed was alt right, r never slept more
comfortably in my life thun I did
then. It was better than sleeping on
the ground as I had done when we
rame across the plains. The cot for
the "printers' devil" was a part of the
At that time only four were em
ployed on the paper. They all
boarded and roomed with Dryer.
I was there as a boy and did a boy's
work. I used to mall the papers and
carried the mall to Oregon City to
catch the boat which carried the mail
weekly to all points on the river.
The circulation was then about
1500. William Davis Carter was at
that time the foreman of The Orego
A ( r t.," ' -, a.jlf f. -.- '. r
i v - m :m: Jn
nlan. Ho had been part owner of tho
Times with Russell D. Austin, and
had sold out Just before I went to
work on The Oregonlan. A new outfit
had been purchased and the outgoing
foreman took the old outfit to Olym
pla, where he started a paper known
as the Olympian. We had in the office
then an old Kamaga press, with which
it was necessary to take two impres
sions to get a sheet. It is now in the
University of Washington' as a curi
osity. Mr. Carter didn't stay , on The Ore
gonlan long. He went East and then
came back and went to work on the
Times again. None of the men who
worked there then are now alive, al
though a son of Mr. Carter Is now at
work on The Oregonlan, as Is also a
son of Mr. Austin.
Soon afterwards, I was made fore
man and hadcharge of the paper.
In 1857 or 1858, K. T. Gunn. a young
man working In the office, -went into
partnership with Dryr and myself.
This arrangement laMed for nearly two
years, but proved unsatisfactory.
OF FOUNDER AND OF
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We then went to work for wages again.
Mr. Dryer was a politician and trav
eled about while we printed the paper.
The great trouble was that he did no,!,
collect money, and we had nothing
with -which to work. So we gave it up.
In 1860 Dryer was nominated as a
Presidential elector and I took tho
paper under contract and published
it for what I could make out of It.
When the Presidential canvass was
over. Dryer and his opponent came to
Portland. Both of them, were soon
sick abed from overwork. The Demo
cratic elector (Delazon Smith) died,
but Dryer recovered. While he was
alck I took over the office and when ho
recovered he went to Washington and
was appointed Commissioner to the
Sandwich Islands. He had mortgaged
the office to me for what he owelme
and never returned to redeem the
property, 'so it left me In possession
of the paper.
In December, 1860, I went to Cali
fornia to purchase a press and other
materials with which to publish a
dally. The trip was made on the ship
LATE EDITOR OF THE
Constitution, an old vessel which had
been used as a relief ship by the Pa
cific Mail Company. She was pretty
well dried out and leaked badly. We
struck a storm going over the Colum
bia bar and were seven days In making
the voyage to San Francisco. The rain
came through the decks and the cabin
was flooded. Fortunately. I had the
middle berth, .whicli was the only dry
one in the cabin. The men above
and below me were soaked. The storm
was a terrible one. It was so bad that
the folks at home gave us' up for lost.
The first fair weather we found on the
voyage was off Point Reyes, near
where the Chinese tramp steamer was
struck by the Beaver a few weeks ago
I was seasick, all the way dow n the
coast, and, when the storm was over
and I went on deck and saw the sun
ahlnlng" on those bare brown hills. It
looked pretty good to me.
At that time there were two other
dailies in the field in Portland, and
I believed it Imperative to meet this
competition. I intended to issue the
first daily January 1, as I thought I
could get back in time. But I was
away a month and there was no way
to get back, as there was no other
steamer to travel on than the one on
which we had come down. I don't
remember the exact date when I
reached Portland again, but it was In
January. We brought the news of our
safety with us. The storm had washed
out the bridges and roads, so that
there was no land transportation
causing the people at home to believ
we had gone down at sea. I had
been married in June and for 30 days
my bride did not know whether I had
been lost a sea or not.
For the time being my trip to San
Francisco was unsuccessful. I could
find nothing except a second-hand
press which had been thrown aside
after being used on the dallies there.
At that time the San Francisco dallies
were all printed In one pressroom,
separate from the composing-rooms.
Each paper took its forms to this
pressroom and had them printed. I
declined to take' the old press and
came back to Portland without one;
but I left an order for a press which
Ve started The Morning Oregonlan
n the old handpress. In the meantime.
while I was gone the Times discovered
I was planning to' establish a daily and
started in ahead of me, so I had three
papers In the field to compete with.
The Commercial Advertiser was print
ed by 8. J. McCormick, then a book
seller. The News was printed daily
and carried a weekly edition besides.
Then the Times started a daily, along
with its weekly. So The Oregonian
was the fourth daily in this little town
of S000 people.
By close work I drove out all com
petition. My policy was to get all tho
news I possibly could. From California
I received tho news overland. The
news went as far as Yreka by tele
graph, thence to Jacksonville by pony
express and from there to Portland by
In the meantime. McCormick had
sold out and war times were coming
on. Lincoln was inaugurated March
4, soon afterward. The Commercial
Advertiser became a semi-Democratic
secession paper. In that way it lost
its hold in the community, which was
in favor of the Union. The Times peo
ple didn't attend closely , to business.
One of them played the violin and the
other the bass viol at social functions,
I played neither the violin nor bass
viol; but I kept at work.
The press for which I hud left any
'order In San Francisco came in 186:4.
A pressman named Louis F. Chemfn
came with it. AVe ran the new press
by hand; it was of the flat bed cylinder
type- and is used in a printing office
at Hillsboro now. Jimmie McCamant,
the man who furnished the power, is
now working at St. Vincent's Hosptial.
Chemln had been a Philadelphia fire
man, and was a 90-day volunteer in
the United States Army. After he
had served his 90 days, he returned to
Philadelphia and had a printing office
of his own there. One day he went to
New York with the firemen on some
sort of a celebration and was shang
haied aboard a steamer bound for
Panama. Later he went to San Fran
cisco, where he began to look for work
and found that this press had been
sent out to go to Portland. So ho fol
lowed the press. His family came out
an' Joined him afterward.
(The first editor or tne uany a
iimeon Francis, an old newspaperman.
He had run the Springfield Jf.urnal, at
Springfield, III. Jn 1862 Francis was
appointed Major and Paymaster in the
Army, and went over to Vancouver,
Wash. Francis had conducted Tho
Oregonian while I waa away on tho
trip to San Francisco.
The other pape rs w hich were started
in Portland didn't seem to see the
necessity for getting tho news, so they
lost ground. After the Commercial
Advertiser and the Times suspended
publication a great many papers were
started. I don't remember all of them.
One of them was a Democratic paper
called the Herald. It began with a
great flourish and was patterned after
the Chicago dailies. It happened that
the Legislature was Democratic at
that time, and It passed an act naming
an official advertising paper in each
county. The Herald was made the of
ficial paper In this county, so It took
from me all the legal advertising. The
publisher of the paper was also State
Printer, and had all this backing to
bujld him up. He spent 170,000 on the
paper and then weakened. Then it
fell into the hands of Sylvester Pen-
noyer, afterwards Governor of Ore
gon. Next an association of printers
Started a Republican paper under Gov
ernor Gibbs and W. Lair Hill. That
lasted for six or eight months.
But tho hardest opposition I had
was that of Ben Holladay, the railroad
man. He came here'to build tho rail
road to San Francisco. His .line of
steamers was then running between
Portland and San Francisco. It was
Holladay who had made his name