One of the surest signs of old age is when one begins to reminisce over the by=gone days. The Sentinel this week becomes eligible to have 66 candles on its birthday cake; consequently, it reaches for its cane and settles down to talk of the past.
The Sentinel makes no secret of its age, as it is very proud of the fact that only two other newspapers or possibly three, now existing in the state are as old as this one. The Waitsburg Times was founded in 1878, some months before The Sentinel, and has continued publication ever since. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer is the final result of three papers that merged. The Intelligencer was founded in 1867, the Post in 1878, and the Dispatch in 1879. There may be one other paper this old.
When The Sentinel was first founded in 1879, the State of Washington had not been formed from the old territory. In fact, Goldendale had just been made the county seat by a vote taken in 1878 and Goldendale did not even become an incorporated town until November 14, 1879. There were but seven postoffices in the county at that time.
The Sentinel was also the result of a merger. According to “History of Klickitat, Yakima, and Kittitas Counties,” published in 1904, the first little paper to appear here was known as The Sun. It was started in 1877 and had a very brief existence, soon being sold to C. K. and K. A. Seitz, who founded the Klickitat Sentinel.
Not content to let The Sentinel have a monopoly, Captain W. A. Wash, who had come here to found a private academy, commenced publication of rival newspaper, the Goldendale Gazette. The two papers bantered back and forth at each other in their columns, each sure that the other one was remarkably worthless.
Practically No News
Neither The Sentinel nor the Gazette was overendowed with that particular type of information know among newsmen as “news.” Rather, both papers could have been printed in Kalamazoo as far as there being much of Goldendale mentioned except on the editorial page. The papers had ads on the front page. As a matter of fact, there was only a front and back page, with most of the stories being little incidents such as might be found in the feature sections of the large city papers. One of the early papers did indulge in a headline now and then, usually to the effect that two women had claimed benefits from Lydia Pinkham’s new medicine, ets.
By 1885, both papers became financially shaky, and passed into the hands of a stock company which united them under one management. The new publication took its name from both, being The Goldendale Sentinel. The stock company was made up of businessmen, and it was incorporated with a capital stock of $3,500 divided into 35 shares.
Dunbar First Editor
Three directors were elected annually, one of them to be selected to take charge of the company’s affairs. Ralph Oregon Dunbar was made the first manager. Dunbar later became chief justice of the Supreme Court at Olympia, and to this day is considered one of the greatest judges in the history of the state.
At this time the paper was to be politically neutral, as both parties were represented among the shareholders who were W. H. Boyd, William Cumming, W. R. Dunbar, J. T. Eshelman, J. M. Hess, Ophelia Cram, T. L. Masters, Joseph Nesbitt, C. S. Reinhart, E. B. Wise, R. O. Dunbar, Wm. Van Vactor, Frederick Eshelman, G. W. Stapleton, J. M. Luark, and W. J. Story.
Neutrality, in a political sense, was hard to maintain, and the columns of The Sentinel became more and more Republican.
The fire of 1888, which swept over the town taking all but three business houses and making 25 families homeless, also burned The Sentinel, with an estimated damage of $3,500. The paper did not stop publication, however, but the copy was taken to The Dalles Mountaineer office, where it was published and returned to Goldendale. This May 17 issue carried a story of the fire on the front page with a tiny headline entitled, “The Fire.”
Many Changes Made
To quote from History of Klickitat, Yakima, and Kittitas Counties: “Changes of editors and managers have been extremely frequent. But to show that The Sentinel has been ably managed and edited, it is only necessary to mention some of the men who were from time to time associated with it. Among the names, we find the following, who have achieved eminent success and are known throughout the state of Washington: W. R. Dunbar, formerly register at the Vancouver land office; C. S. Reinhart, clerk of the state supreme court; H. C. Phillips, present register of the United States land office at Vancouver (1904); State Senator George H. Baker, Honorable Joseph Nesbitt and others.”
First Issue On Display
The very first issue of the newly-formed Goldendale Sentinel is on display in the office window this week. It consisted of one page printed on both sides, and had 7 columns, with a subscription rate of $2.50 a year, the same as now. The first two columns were devoted to ads. The other 5 contained several poems and stories.
Assuming that the top of the paper was the place for the biggest stories of the week, that first issue carried these headlines: Great Salt Lake: The Probable Outlet Accidentally Discovered by a Boy . . . and . . The Talking Alligator: Cap’t. Paul Boynton’s Encounter While Floating Down the Arkansas River. Another headline concerned the story of Demosthenes. There was no news pertaining to Goldendale except on the back page.
First Editorial Reprinted
An editorial concerning the naming of the new paper appeared, which we reprint:
“We had concluded to call this paper the Sentinel-Gazette and it was so announced in the Gazette last week; but after hearing it repeated several times, it sounded awkard and bungling. In fact it didn’t jingle to suit us; hence we adopted the more euphoneous title Goldendale Sentinel, being equally a portion of the name of both of its parents. But then it really makes no difference what the child is names so it is properly reared.”
The story is told, and is presumably true, that at one time during the earlier days of The Sentinel, the shipment of newsprint did not arrive on time. The publisher, rather than lose the continuity of the legal notices for lack of paper, put the edition out on the backs of wallpaper.
W. F. Byars Is Editor
In 1893, the stockholders engaged. F. Byars to come to Goldendale and manage the paper. Byars spent six months here, working for the Goldendale Publishing Co., and then returned to Portland. He soon came back and assumed his duties with the newspaper. When Byars first came here, The Sentinel was housed in the first wooden building east of the Goldendale Baking Co., where it had moved from the Leidl building, now the site of Mrs. Gunning’s jewelery store. While Byars was in Portland, The Sentinel moved to the east room of the Farmers’ Mercantile building, the same room where the Klickitat County Agriculturist expired recently. The J. C. Penny Co. is now at that site.
Byars Becomes Owner
Over a period of years, Byars bought the stock belonging to the original shareholders, and became owner as well as editor of the paper. He moved it to the old Pike & Brooks building, which was where the Red & White store now stands. Later, Byars moved from there to a wooden structure just east of that, where the Pioneer State bank is now.
Fearing another disastrous fire similar to the one of 1888, Byars decided to build a shop which would have no immediate neighbors, and he built the yellow building on the corner of Court and Grant streets during the winter of 1902 and 1903. The building still stands, and was used recently by the Scouts to house the paper collected in the wast paper drive.
Byars sold The Sentinel in May, 1907, after having been connected with it for 14 years. He sold to Ed Ward and N. L. Ward, brothers, who hired O. C “Dude” Nelson as editor and manager.
Devil Is Big Help
Byars’ son, Nesbitt, was helping around the shop, learning the trade. Nelson did not arrive in time to make up the edition. Mr. Byars was also out of town, so young Nesbitt took it upon himself to put the type together and make the lay-out of the paper. It was his first attempt at doing so, and he had no one to help him. The paper appeared on schedule, although it is said to have been one of the strangest-appearing papers in the history of The Sentinel. Nesbitt Byars is today an ordained minister. From Printer’s devil to preacher!
The ownership again changed hands when Irving Bath purchase The Sentinel and was both publisher and editor for many years. He soon moved it from the yellow building to a more central location, the present one. Before the paper occupied this site, the building had been the Brooks & Co. bank. During Bath’s years here, he purchased most of the modern equipment, installing two linotype machines and other items.
Present Owners Buy
In 1936, Bath sold the paper to Harold Fariello and Archie Radcliffe, the present publishers. Marion Sexton was the first editor, being here over 2 years, later going into the newspaper business with Marvin Kamholz at Vernonia, Oregon. Sexton was succeeded by Ron Richardson, who recently resigned to enter the navy. Lt. Richardson is now in Washington, D. C. on the editorial staff of Naval Aviation News.
The Klickitat County News was merged with The Sentinel when the present publishers took over, as Fariello had owned the News during its short existence of about two and a half years in Goldendale.
Are First Subscribers
D. F. Stegman, 91, who lives in Goldendale, subscribed to the very first edition of this paper and has never missed an issue. John Mattson, also of this city, has taken The Sentinel consistently, “learning to read along with it,” as he put it.
As the volume number changes to 66, The Sentinel has built up its subscription to 2550, and has a modern well-equipped plant both for publishing and for job printing.
The figurative candles on the birthday cake are burning low, and The Sentinel lays down its cane, blows out the candles, and springs back to the presses.