CLOVIS -- The
first newspaper printed in Fresno county was issued by Samuel J.
Garrison, and was known as the Fresno Times. It was issued at Millerton
and appeared for the first time on January 28, 1865.
Up to that time all legal publications
had been made in a newspaper at Mariposa. The office of the Times
was located in a wooden building on the south bank of the San Joaquin
River, directly opposite McCray's Hotel. It was a small office,
poorly equipped as to material and men.
Garrison,had but one assistant, and
frequently drew upon the citizens and soldiers at Millerton to help
him work off his edition. It was Democratic in politics. The Times
did not last quite a year, either from want of patronage, or causes
to be found within the proprietor himself, and the material was
removed to Visalia.
The only file of the Times now known
to be in existence was kept by William Faymonville, and by him presented
to Hon. J. W. F erguson, editor and proprietor of the Expositor,
who had it bound. Though not much of a paper, it makes very interesting
reading even at this date, and especially so to the gentlemen who
figured personally in the early history of the county.
After the death of the Times, the
want of a good paper was seriously felt, but it was not until 1870
that J. W. Ferguson came to supply it. It was on April 27th of that
year that the Fresno Weekly, Expositor first made its appearance
at Millerton, under Mr. Ferguson's editorship and ownership.
It was a small publication, but a
very enterprising one, nevertheless, for the times and the place.
On the day of its first issue, sill the prominent people of the
town gathered at Mr. Ferguson's office, and in one way or an other
assisted in the production of the paper. It had many godfathers,
and was christened with many libations of the favorite drink of
When the county seat was removed to
Fresno in 1874, Mr. Ferguson also seat, brought his plant to Fresno,
and there the paper has been published ever since. Since then the
weekly has been materially enlarged, has never changed publishers,
nor once failed to appear on the day of its publication.
The enterprise of Mr. Ferguson kept
march with the progress of the town, and in 1881 the daily Expositor
made its appearance. In 1891 it occupied a building of its own,
the plant is one of the best in the State, including six fine presses,
and the daily edition has grown to eight pages of six columns each,
set in Minion type, and publishing the full afternoon report of
the Associative Press.
Mr. Ferguson is a pioneer of California,
having arrived in San Francisco in August 8, 1849. He has grown
up with Fresno; is identified with all its prosperity, much of which
he helped to achieve, and which in his turn has given him a competence.
In March, 1875, Charles A. Heaton,
at one time associated with Mr. Ferguson in the Expositor, issued
a weekly newspaper. called the Review, at Fresno. It does not appear
to have been a healthy enterprise and lived only a few weeks.
The Fresno Republican was established
in September 1876, by Dr. Chester A. Rowell, who had associated
with him A.L. Hobbs, George McCullough and Lyman Andrews, M. J.
Donahoo, Frank Dusy, A. Tombs, J. W. Williams, C. W. DeLong, Russell
Flemming, Cottle & Luse and some other gentlemen, Republican in
politics. The first editor was Emmett Curtis, a young journalist
who had been brought here from San Francisco.
The first issue made its appearance
on September 23, 1876, and being the first Republican paper ever
issued in the county, created somewhat of a sensation. Seven hundred
and fifty copies were issued, and a copy sent to every known Republican
in the county, and seems to have made a favorable impression.
Mr. Curtis remained in editorial charge
until after the presidential election of that year, when it was
found that if the paper were to be continued, the expenses would
have to be very materially reduced. It was $900 in debt, had practically
no subscription list, and a very limited advertising patronage.
The election was over, the politicians was apathetic, and Republicans
refused to contribute to sustain the paper.
Dr. Rowell then assumed the personal
management, dispensing with the services of an editor, discharging
all help not absolutely necessary to the production of the paper,
temporarily postponing the indebtedness with new notes, and turning
in his personal medical accounts to assist in the support of the
enterprise. It was a very hard struggle, but the paper never lost
an issue, though it was kept alive only by constant self-sacrifice
and the continual making good of deficiencies.
On September 28, 1878, Dr. Rowell
gave the Republican into the charge of Clarence Hedges and William
Shanklin, two printers who had been identified with the office almost
from the beginning of its publication. They continued as editors
and publishers until April 26, 1879, when Dr. Rowell sold the paper
to S. Adison Miller, stipulating, however, that it should remain
a strictly Republican paper, that it should always be known as the
Fresno Republican, that it should in no way amalgamate with or enter
into any agreement of business or politics with its rival, the Fresno
Expositor, nor change its policy in any respect relative to public
Under Mr. Miller's management the
Republican steadily advanced and enjoyed an era of unusual prosperity,
bringing to its owner a very comfortable fortune.
In 1885, Mr. Miller sold the property
to the Rev. Mr. Brewington, who conducted it for six months, when
he sold it to J. H. Short and J. W. Shanklin, who devoted most of
their efforts to the daily issue.
In May, 1890, Messrs. Shanklin and
Short transferred their interest, which included the entire plant,
to T. C. Judkins, who increased its news service and generally placed
it upon a higher plane of journalism.
It published the full dispatches of
the Associated Press, and was the equal of any morning newspaper
in the State outside the City of San Francisco. It continued to
be an aggressive Republican newspaper, though it treated all parties
with fairness and liberality. It was outspoken and independent,
and did not hesitate to commend or condemn officials of any party.
It had not enjoyed any official, patronage and succeeded entireiy
on its own merits.
The Central Californian is a weekly
newspaper, the result of a consolidation of the Fresno Saturday
Budget and the Fresno Inquirer. It presented a handsome eight-page
paper, generally accompanied with a four-page supplement, designed
as a general old county family newspaper. It was owned by J. C.
Hodges and had been espousing the cause of the Farmers' Alliance.
It had a wellequipped office, and was a very creditable representative
of the farmer interests.
The Fresno Turf was a monthly publication,
mainly devoted to the interests of horses and sporting matters generally.
It was a sixteen-page paper, with a handsomely printed cover, and
popular with sportsmen and people alive to racing interests. It
was ably edited by J. M. Reuck, the proprietor, who was also secretary
of the Fresno Fair Grounds Association.
1n 1880, E. E. Vincent established
the Mercury at the town of Madera, and has conducted it successfully
ever since. He wisely selected as his first editor, John M. McClure,
who devoted hintself assiduously to placing the advantages of Madera
and the surrounding country prominently before the public.
The Mercury progressed with the prosperity
of Madera, and attained a considerable influence in the northern
part of the county. It was edited by W. D. Bresee, a well-known
and popular young man, for some years connected with the Republican
and other newspapers of the county seat.
The Selma Weekly Irrigator was established
in 1886 and the Daily Irrigator followed in 1888, and both have
been regularly published. These papers were devoted to the interests
of the town in which they are published, and have done much to build
up the country in that vicinity. In politics they are Democratic.
W. L. Chappell and W. T. Lyon were the publishers.
Selma's only other newspaper is the
weekly Enteiprise, which was established in 1888 and represents
the Republican party in that section of the county. It was not a
paying enterprise and frequently changed owners. It was, on two
or three occasions, published daily editions, but they were not
been maintained beyond the political campaign for which they were
projected. The manager and editor was Harry R. Rivers.
E. P. Dewey was the owner and editor
of a handsome and enterprising newspaper at Sanger, the only paper
in the town. The Herald made its first appearance on May 11, 1889,
and was quite prosperous from the beginning. It was independent
The only other publication in the
eastern section of the county was a small sheet known as the Centerville
News, which had a violent death, as a correspondent wrote, "...
a fractious colt putting its hoofs through the forms." It was edited
by Lucius Powers.
After a service of two years and eight
months on the Madera Mercury, Mr. John M. McClure concluded to engage
in business for himself, and on December 12, 1890, established the
County Review, at that place, which achieved a marvelous success
in a very few months. It was a bright and enterprising eight-page
publication, a credit to the owner and editor and an honor to the
On March 26, 1891, the first copy
of the Reedley Exponent was issued at the thriving town of Reedley.
It was an eight-page paper, neatly printed and ably edited by
the proprietor, A. S. Jones, of Mandan, Dakota.
There is nothing sensational to record
in connection with the history of journalism in the county. It has
always been in advance of the community and all of the publications
have been above mediocrity. Their ambition was first to give all
the news and to advertise to the world the wonderful attractions
of Fresno county for those seeking homes.
Duels, shooting affrays and all that
sort of thing, generally so common in new countries, are totally
lacking. The only thing out of the ordinary that occurred to any
member of the craft was the election of Mr. Ferguson to the Legislature
in 1874, a station that he filled with distinguished ability and
to the entire satisfaction of his constituents.
Note: Sources of documentation were obtained from official public
documents in the Big Dry Creek Museum holdings, and 0fficial
1891 archives of the Fresno County Supervisors, and Hobbs family
records, and the Official Historial Atlas of Fresno County,
and historical documents, deeds, and business filing of record.]