Closely connected with the political history of Placer County, and partaking greatly of the nature of the party which each affected to represent, and professed to be or was really the mouth-piece of, the various newspaper enterprises of the county claim some notice in this sketch; and, in fact, it would be incomplete without it. The Placer Herald is the oldest newspaper in the county. The first number was issued on the 11th of September 1852, by T. Mitchell & Co., under the most favorable auspices, as we judge by the introductory remarks of the editor, and the liberal advertising patronage extended to it by businessmen and public officers from its first issue through out the whole of its first volume. The following is-an extract from the introductory of the editor, and is a declaration of principles, which, if they could be carried out-the paper at the same time being ably conducted could not fail to secure the success of any newspaper enterprise in a community so appreciative as are the people of Placer. The editor introduces his paper “To the Citizens of Placer County,” as follows:
“Through the partiality of friends, we have been selected to the responsible position of publishing the first journal in Placer County. Although somewhat diffident of our abilities, the strong promptings of our inclinations urge us to the task.
“In becoming a candidate for popular favor, a declaration of principles is due to the public. This time-honored usage we have no desire to disregard, but will state, briefly, the principles which will guide us in the’ conduct of the Placer Herald.
“In all matters of religious or political concernment the Herald will be FREE and INDEPENDENT. The peculiar advocate of no sect or party, we shall strive earnestly to do ‘ equal and exact justice’ to all.”
Doubtless the editor of the Herald commenced his career with more than usually virtuous intentions, but perhaps the temptations held out by the ever-changing-fortunes of political parties and aspirants for political and official honors were greater than human nature was capable of withstanding, and hence a change of circumstances produced a corresponding change in the sentiments or policy of the conductor of the Herald. Through all its changes, however, the Herald has been a useful paper, and, as a newspaper enterprise, a success-profitable to its publishers and advantageous to its readers.
The next newspaper started in Placer County of which we have any account was the Placer Democrat, which was born in Auburn, April 19th, 1854. The paper being started by the Broderick faction, and fostered by the kindness of that eminently liberal party (in promises), it survived the campaign, perhaps, not exceeding two weeks. The proprietor and editor of the Democrat was John Shannon, late of the Visalia Delta, and it is said that Philip Lynch, now editor of the Placer Courier, also owned an interest and had much to do with its management. To give the reader -some idea of the usefulness of the Democrat, the following article, copied from the Auburn Whig, which has very much the appearance of an obituary, is republished:
“The Placer Democrat, a paper representing the so called Broderick wing of the Democracy, of this county, has been discontinued. Its publication commenced April 19th of the present year, and ended about two weeks since. It has had the effect of causing rather stormy times in the Democratic party during the late political canvass; but whether or not the object which it had in view has been entirely accomplished we do not know. That portion of the party whose organ it was badly beaten here by the Anti-Electionists, as well as, throughout the State. The resignation of their County Central Committee, and the withdrawal of Milton S. Latham, one of their nominees for Congress, were undoubtedly serious drawbacks to their success, though, without these obstacles, the result might have been the same. The reasons given for the discontinuance of the Democrat is, that “it will not pay,” which, unquestionably is quite a satisfactory one to all interested. We wish Mr. Shannon better success in his private enterprise than has, in this instance, favored his political ones.”
The next newspaper enterprise started in the county was the Auburn Whig, published by Chas. Winkley and A. L. Stinson, and edited by M. E. Mills, which, like its predecessor, was not destined to live forever. The political predilections of the Whig were what its name indicates; and to say that the paper was conducted, during the whole of the brief period of its existence, with marked ability, would but be doing justice to the gentlemen who had the management of it, and who prepared the matter which filled its umns. The Whig lived under the editorial conduct of Mr. Mills for three months, when he passed it over into the hands of H. R. Hawkins, who also continued it until it arrived at the age of thirty-one weeks; when the Whig, like its predecessor, the Democrat, without previous notice ceased to exist. Its demise occurred on May 19th, 1855; and on June 2d, of the same year, the Placer Press was started by H. R. Hawkins, A. L. Stinson, and C. Winkley; Hiram R.: Hawkins, editor, as before. The Press, through all the changes of its proprietorship during the succeeding 29 months, which it was under the editorial conduct of Mr. Hawkins, was a neatly printed and interesting paper, being looked anxiously for each recurring Saturday morning by its appreciative readers. On October 31st, 1857, Mr. Hawkins sold his interest to A. S. Smith, who became editor, and continued the paper, in connection with Jas. P. Bull, as a partner in the publication, until May 1858, when Mr. Bull retired from the concern and “the editor (has) assumed the entire control.” The Press from this time until its demise was the organ of the Anti-Lecompton party, and was accused of being strongly tinctured with Abolitionism. The Press continued to make a regular weekly squeeze for a short time, under the direction of A. S. Smith; but eventually falling into the hands of J. W. Scoby, who assumed the editorship, was conducted by him until December 4, 1858, when he took “ANOTHER GLANCE AT THE FIELD” and incontinentally retired, the Press becoming: a defunct institution.
In the latter part of 1855 or early part of 1856, the Iowa Hill News was started at Iowa Hill, by Olmstead & Miller. The News advocated a division of Placer county, which was one of the questions of the political canvass of 1856, but the advocates of the measure did not ‘succeed in making sufficient converts to their cause to continue the struggle after the election, and the question became a dead issue. Sometime in the winter or spring of 1858 the News office was removed to San Juan, Nevada County, and the Hydraulic Press was started by the proprietors.
Sometime during the winter of 1857, the 30th publication of the Mountain Courier was commenced at Yankee Jim’s, by Messrs. Parker and Graves; who continued its publication for the space of three months precisely, when creditors becoming clamorous for numerous small amounts due from the concern, attachments were sued out, and levied upon the office, and its issue stopped.
On the 4th day of July, of the same year, E. B. Boust, having purchased the press and printing materials of the Mountain Courier, published the first number of the Placer Courier, which was successfully conducted ‘by him until November, 1858, when he withdrew from the concern, and the paper was taken charge of by R. J. Steele, who published it at Yankee Jim’s, until the following April, when the office was removed to Forest Hill. The’ Courier is now published by P. Lynch, who succeeded Mr. Steele as publisher in December 1860.
In January 1859, the Iowa Hill Patriot was started in that town by E. B. Boust, and was continued there until May 1, 1860, when the materials were removed by him to Dutch. Flat, and the Patriot was merged into the Dutch Flat Enquirer. Mr. Boust continues the publication of the Enquirer, and is doing an excellent business.
The Democratic Signal was started as a Democratic campaign paper at Auburn, at the opening of the campaign of 1860, by S. T. Newell Sr, Co., publishers, and edited by R. C. Poland. The paper espoused the cause of Stephen A. Douglas, and its publication was continued by Newell & Co. until the 10th of December of the same year, when it went into the hands of R. J. Steele, who continued its publication.