THE "PUGET SOUND HERALD" STARTED BY PROSCH
William P. Bonney, "The Puget Sound Herald started by Prosch," History of Pierce County. Volume I p. 235-241.
The importance of the historical pioneer town of Steilacoom was further heralded along the Pacific Coast by the establishment of a newspaper in March, 1858. This effort was the third endeavor to publish a weekly newspaper in this sparsely settled region of the great Northwest. About three years previously a whig partisan publication called the Puget Sound Courier had been launched at Steilacoom by W. B. Affleck and E. T. Gunn, but it lasted only about a year.
The Indian war might have been an influence which blotted it out of existence that together with following a certain and definite political policy. About a year after the demise of the Courier, or some time in 1857, a second paper christened the Republican enjoyed a short period of existence. The third paper, under the initial guidance of G. W. Lee & Company, which was composed of G. W. Lee and Charles Prosch, was now started, its first issue coming from the press on Friday, March 12, 1858.
It was a six-column four-page paper, well printed, but containing more literary articles and digest of eastern news than it did of local events. The owners and publishers, evidently taking heed of their short-lived predecessors, announced that the Puget Sound Herald would be non-partisan and free from political influence. Its subscription price was announced at $5 per year, or $3 for six months, strictly in advance.
Its published schedule for advertising was $3 for one square (twelve lines or less) for the first insertion, and $1 for each square for subsequent insertions, with a reduction of 50 per cent to yearly advertisers. If this rate was maintained the publishers were, from all indications, upon a sound financial footing, for nearly two hundred inches of advertising was contained in their first issue, and subsequent issues showed no decline in patronage.
The publishers had an agency in San Francisco, and the major part of their advertisements were from business firms of that city.
Newspapers in those early days were few and far between on the Pacific Coast, and with the dearth of reading matter and augmented by the slowness with which news traveled they were eagerly kept and read. They were not so common then as to invite only a casual glance and be hastily thrown aside. The few in existence in the West were carried about, and taken from port to port. The boats coming to Puget Sound and landing weekly at Steilacoom carried with them issues of this paper to other ports, and in this manner the wonders of the Northwest were spread to eager eyes always looking for new fields for homes or business ventures.
EVENTS CHRONICLED IN FIRST ISSUE
The first issue announced that the brig Cyrus was in port, under the command of Captain Diggs, and that it had made the record of reaching Steilacoom from San Francisco in six days. This time had not been beaten by any boat except by the Leones some five years previous. The brig Cyclops was also at anchor at Steilacoom, under command of Captain Anderson; and it and the Cyrus were waiting for cargoes for the return trip to San Francisco. The steamer Sea Bird was also daily expected to arrive from the south, to make regular trips on the Puget Sound.
The first issue contained an unselfish "boost" for the "thriving" town of Port Townsend, and mentioned the building developments in that town. It also stated that the United States District Court for the Second Judicial District of the territory was then in session at Olympia, with a heavy calendar which would probably require three weeks to dispose of.
An announcement was printed calling for a meeting of the residents of Pierce County to form the Steilacoom Library Association, the incorporation being made possible through an enactment of the last session of the Legislature. The lodge announcement of Steilacoom Lodge No. 8 of Masons appeared in the columns, showing James M. Bachelder as worthy master, with meetings on the first and third Saturday evenings of each month. Rev. G. M. Berry, of the Methodist Church, according to the church notice, would preach regularly every Sunday at the garrison at 10 o'clock in the forenoon, and at the church in Steilacoom at 3 o'clock afternoons.
There were some twenty-five or thirty advertisements of San Francisco firms. The local advertisements were of S. McCaw & Company, general merchandise and "also a large amount of good liquors;" J. R. Meeker & Sons, dealers in live stock, fresh meats, provisions and general merchandise; Balch & Webber (Lafayette Balch and J. B. Webber), hardware and commission merchants and wholesale and retail dealers in dry goods, groceries, provisions, ready-made clothes, boots and shoes; Wells Fargo & Company; Steilacoom Livery Stable (Charles Stewart); P. J. Moorey, wholesale and retail dealer in dry goods, groceries, "etc."; Clark Drew, watchmaker and jeweler; and W. H. Wallace, attorney at law.
S. McCaw & Company also advertised that they had 200 gallons of Old Tom on hand "for sale cheap." Stewart advertised that "good saddle horses will be kept in readiness for the accommodation of the public," and also that he had "a fine spring buggy for parties wishing to enjoy a pleasant ride through the country." There were also a few advertisements from Olympia firms, and one from Portland.
Lafayette Balch, under date of April 3, 1857, also had inserted the following notice: "Notice is hereby given that the undersigned, one of the proprietors of the town of Steilacoom, having complied with the requirements of the Donation Land Law under the act of Congress of September 27, 1850, is now prepared to make all purchasers of lots a warranty deed." He gave his address as at the corner of "Snoqualmoo and Clickatat streets."
Current prices prevailing at Steilacoom were announced in the first issue to be as follows: Beef, fresh, 15 cents per pound; pork, 12 1/2 cents per pound; butter, 63 cents per pound; flour, $7 per 100 pounds; corn meal, $6 per 100 pounds; potatoes, 75 cents per bushel; coffee, 18 1/2 cents per pound; tea, 75 cents to $1 per pound; sugar, No. 1, China, 17 cents; No. 2, 15 cents; vinegar, 50 cents per gallon; brandy, $1.50 to $3 per gallon; port wine, $2.50 per gallon; whiskey, $1 to $2.50 per gallon; cherry brandy, $2; lumber, $11 and $12 per thousand; shingles, $6.
William P. Bonney, "The Puget Sound Herald started by Prosch," History of Pierce County. Volume I, p. 235-41.