From the Desk of Marlys Rudeen – Former Washington Deputy State Librarian
Let’s take a look at Newport in the early part of the 20th century through the lens of the local newspaper. Front page news articles focus on the shipping, mining and lumber industries that provide the life blood for Newport and its surrounding areas, and on the railroads that allow that lifeblood to flow freely.
The lives of the residents are usually chronicled further back in the paper. From the local news sections we can see that Newport residents were great travelers, both for business and pleasure, and their comings and goings were recorded in the local news section “Just Among Ourselves.” In fact, the section begins each day with the train schedule for both passengers and freight trains between Newport and Spokane. Social notes about lodge meetings, church schedules and social events are included. Businesses and services are advertised. Lost and found items are publicized. Work place injuries and illnesses are reported.
You can explore the Newport Miner from 1907-1912 at the Chronicling America web site. Choose the Browse Issues link, select a year from the drop down box, and then choose an issue from the calendar display. I’ve listed some of the dates and pages below for some interesting tidbits.
Nov. 9, 1907
p. 1 “Criminal Element Busy During Past Week.”
Loot taken during a burglary at the Reid Hardware Company included “four revolvers, about fifty pocket knives, a razor, magnifying glass and other small articles…” On Monday evening Ralph Kennedy was returning home through the lumber yards when he was accosted and robbed of $2.80. “The holdup man compelled Ralph to walk back into the yards about a block with him and then bade him good night with a ‘much obliged.’”
p. 5 “The Silver Birch Dairy Wagon, which was smashed in a runaway about three weeks ago, has been rebuilt and painted and is in commission again.”
“Ralph Kennedy says that the gun that held him up the other night was of a new-sized caliber. He would judge it to be about the size of a stove pipe.”
Nov. 16, 1907, p. 1
“Tough Element Busy – Burglaries and Hold-ups Becoming Frequent – City Jail Full Wednesday”
George Edge, local architect was relieved of 80 cents cash by a “big burly bum.” On Wed. evening men steal flour from a railcar and attempt to sell it to a local restaurant.
p. 5 “One of our south town bachelors has a large sign, “Wife Wanted,” over his door. Won’t some old maid take pity on the poor fellow.”
Nov. 22, 1907
p. 1 “News of Old Town” – “Spot Emery has gone to Medial Lake to boil out, so he says. The general impression is, however, that he has gone there for other treatment, and his friends do not expect him to return until the doctors are through with him”
Dec. 12, 1907
p. 1 “Chapter of Accidents” – Ted Shoemaker of Cusick shot by accident; George Terpenning, broken leg while skidding logs; Sam Higginson falls off a train car cutting his head; Franks Staley hit by flying rock from a blast; and the daughter of Rev. R. C. Moore injured when her horse falls and rolls over her.
p. 5 “’As Told in the Hills,’ a western melo-drama, is booked for the Opera House Tuesday evening, Jan. 31st.”
Jan. 9, 1908, p. 5
’Billy’ Heffron is arranging a wrestling match between “Earl Rusho, a farmer residing between Newport and Spirit Lake, and Heinrich, the well-known professional from Spokane.” The match was scheduled for the Opera House.
p. 5 “Poor old Spokane has had to bow to the inevitable, and beginning next Sunday the lid will be jammed down so hard that visitors will hardly recognize the town. Mayor Moore has issued an order calling for the closing of all saloons on Sunday and abolishing the notorious cribs and concert halls.”
Feb. 13, 1908, p. 1
“News of the Old Town” – An altercation is reported – “One of the milkmen ran up against a rounder who thought he owned the town. The rounder was flattened out by a couple of swift hard blows; so also was a showcase. Damages about $3. No arrests.”
Feb. 29, 1908
p. 3 “Neighborhood News” – “The work of crusading against disorderly houses and their inmates goes merrily on in Bonner county.”
p. 5 “Just Among Ourselves” “The new Stevens county jail at Colville does not seem to be entirely proof against breaking out of the detained.” A prisoner escaped on Monday but was recaptured on Tuesday near Chewelah.
“The council has granted a license for a moving picture show, which will occupy the Opera House for an extended period…”
p. 6 “Tiger Talk” – “The next meeting of the Bachelor’s Club will be at their air castle on Poverty Flat, located on Pitfall avenue, some time in the near future, to consider ways and means in which to encourage spinsters to make use of the privilege granted to them once every four years. The club is in a healthy financial condition, with a cash capital of $0,000.01 in the treasury and all dues paid up to date.”
“Usk Items” – “Ole Olson was perambulating the streets of Usk this week.”
Feb. 27, 1908
p. 3 “News from the Metalines” – “Several strangers are in town today. Some of them are looking up a location for a saloon, a good sign that the town is on the boom.”
“Tiger Talk” – “Frank Schultz brought a sled load of people down from Yocum to the Socialist meeting at Renshaw’s hall.
And finally, an excerpt from some tongue in cheek poetry – “An invitation to the ‘Utterly Lost.’”
“Come and visit ‘mong us,
Bring your things and stay;
You’ll find no growth of fungus
Adown the Pon de Ray.” (3rd stanza)
“Note [from the poet] – As the construction of the above may not meet the approval of a critical public,
My name is not appended,
For my muse has gone astray…”
The Newport Miner was digitized through a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities under the National Digital Newspaper Program. The Miner and many other American newspapers can be found online at Chronicling America at the Library of Congress.
Additional newspapers for Washington can be found at Historic Newspapers at the Washington State Library’s web site. The State Library is a Division of the Office of the Secretary of State.