Postal clerk horsewhips Bothell publisher for a critical editorial on April 17, 1909.

  • By David Wilma
  • Posted 6/11/2003
  • Essay 4188
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On April 17, 1909, Assistant Postmistress Olivia Cole attacks Bothell Sentinel publisher Bill Guernsey with a whip. Guernsey, writing under the pseudonym Bill Bugghaus, had written an editorial complaining about "standing in line waiting a needless length of time for improperly distributed mail" (Stickney, 142). This is the first documented incidence of a postal worker in Bothell attacking a citizen.

Wielding the Blacksnake

Guernsey had purchased the four-page Sentinel, which came out every Saturday. He wrote under several assumed names and was sometimes critical of individuals in that small town, population approximately 500. Reportedly, Cole caught Guernsey coming out of Ericksen's store and struck him several times with a whip, which she had concealed in the folds of her clothing. Guernsey was not injured, but the following Saturday, he ran the story under the headline

"Horsewhipped on Main Street
Bill Bugghaus gets all that's coming to him and
a little more before she's through
wielding the blacksnake on his back"

Cole answered with a letter to the editor in which she asserted that her actions were "for the good of the whole community."

The following July, Guernsey attempted to generate interest in his paper (he accepted subscription fees in produce) by hanging a banner that read, "See Bill and the Devil. Make a little journey into Hell." The banner hung between the Sentinel's building and the Odd Fellows Hall.

Things Go Down from There

Hall manager John Keener took offense and punched Guernsey in the eye. Harry Martin joined in and hit Guernsey as well. Later that day, Guernsey beat Martin up. Guernsey apologized to his readers and explained what a "printer's devil" and "hell boxes" were in a newspaper.

Guernsey sold the Sentinel a few months later and pursued his journalism career in Renton.


Amy Eunice Stickney, Lucille McDonald, Squak Slough, 1870-1920: Early Days on the Sammamish River, Woodinville-Bothell-Kenmore (Seattle: Friends of the Bothell Library, 1977), 142-149.

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