Post-Intelligencer: A 1922 History of the Seattle Newspaper

  • Posted 1/26/2009
  • Essay 8905
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This 1922 history of the historic Seattle newspaper, the Post-Intelligencer (later Seattle Post-Intelligencer), is excerpted from an essay by Edmond S. Meany (1862-1935) titled "Newspapers of Washington State." It is reprinted from the Washington Historical Quarterly, Vol. 13, No. 3 and Vol. 14, No. 4, (1922), pp. 51-54.

Post-Intelligencer by Edmond Meany (1922)

The family tree of the Post-Intelligencer is extensive and somewhat intricate. The main branches can easily be traced but there are many forgotten twigs. The lntelligencer was established on August 5, 1867, and the Post was established in 1878. The Intelligencer is thus eleven years the older of the two component parts of the present publication. Not only is this true, but, by a process of amalgamation in 1878, the Intelligencer may be said to have extended its life backward four years beyond the date of its own birth. Such a paradox seems to be possible with newspapers if not with other forms of life. The 1878 amalgamation referred to was when the Intelligencer ­absorbed the Puget Sound Dispatch and the Pacific Tribune. The latter was founded in Olympia in 1863. Of course its good will, equipment and files passed over to the Intelligencer which gives whatever justification there may be for giving the birth of the Post-Intelligencer as of 1863 instead of 1867.

The ambitious Seattle Post in the three years of its inde­pendent existence, beginning with the North Pacific Rural, in 1878, acquired a good plant, a circulation and a fine brick building. In doing all this the company also acquired some stock­holders including such well-known capitalists as John Leary and George W. Harris. These men and their associates believed that Seattle could be served better by one strong paper than by two competing journals. On October 1, 1881, their plan was achieved by the union of the two papers with the hyphenated name, Post­-Intelligencer. This amalgamation eliminated Kirk C. Ward, formerly editor of the Post, and he promptly established the Seattle Chronicle.

When Prosch & Crawford secured the Intelligencer, in 1879, Mr. Prosch may be said to have gone back into his old paper as the Intelligencer had absorbed the Pacific Tribune the year before. At the time of the union resulting in the Post-Intelligencer, Mr. Crawford disposed of his interest in the Intelligencer. The partners in the new venture were Thomas W. Prosch, who owned one half of the stock and the others were John Leary and George W. Harris. The Seattle Directory, for 1882, shows Thomas W. Prosch as editor and manager of the Post-Intelligencer. ­John Leary is listed as a lawyer and George W. Harris & Co. are shown as bankers. Charles Prosch, father of Thomas W. Prosch, and his predecessor as editor and publisher of the Pacific Tribune is listed as a printer, while Samuel L. Crawford, former partner in the Intelligencer, is listed as a reporter. Mr. Prosch made the Post-Intelligencer a powerful paper. He engaged as editorial writers such talented men as Colonel George G. Lyon and Frederic James Grant. Samuel L. Crawford was City editor and for a time also constituted the entire reportorial staff. 

In 1884, Mr. Prosch purchased the interests of his partners but placed three quarters of the stock in the names of his associates in order to fill the offices in the corporation. In this way Frederic James Grant became president; Samuel L. Crawford, secretary; and Edmond S. Meany, treasurer. Since the promis­sory notes given for the stock were not paid, Mr. Prosch re­mained the real owner of the paper. In 1886, he sold the pro­perty to a group of citizens who made Clarence B. Bagley mana­ger. Later in the same year the paper was sold to Leigh S. J. Hunt, who had arrived from Iowa. For a time Mr. Hunt shared the duties of editor and manager with Robert C. Washburn, for­merly of Maine. 

Mr. Hunt was ambitious to make his paper a metropolitan journal. He secured new type, enlarged the Sunday edition and se­cured from Portland a group of young men who had been suc­cessful workers on the Oregonian. At the head of these was Alfred D. Holman, who remained managing editor during the balance of the Territorial period; Edgar B. Piper became city edi­tor; Jabez B. Nelson was telegraph editor; Will H. Parry was one of the reporters and later became one of Seattle's prominent citi­zens. When the great fire, of June 6, 1889, destroyed the plant in the old Post Building, the salvaged fragments of printing materials were removed to Mr. Hunt's private residence on the northwest corner of Fourth and Columbia. On the next morn­ing, June 7, a small two-page issue of the paper chronicled the great fire. One brief editorial announced that its heavy machin­ery was all destroyed. "But we have no thought of more than a temporary embarrassment which we feel assured the public will cheerfully overlook ...  New machinery has already been ordered by telegraph."

The Seattle Directory, for 1890, which was Volume II., in the R. L. Polk & Co. series, carries a full-page advertisement of the Post-Intelligencer. There is a picture of a new Hoe press and the lines "Established in 1867," "The Oldest, the Largest, the Best." The address is given as "Cherry Street near Second," showing that the paper within a year had obtained new quarters and new equipment. The Constitutional Convention preparing for statehood assembled at Olympia for its forty-five days of work on July 4, 1889. The Post-Intelligencer recorded the proceedings quite fully although its issues were nine columns four pages daily with eight pages on Sundays. It was still being published at the temporary quarters in Mr. Hunt's residence.

For most of the time during the Territorial period the Post­-Intelligencer published a weekly edition carrying materials sel­ected from the daily for rural and distant subscribers. The com­plete files of both daily and weekly, fortunately saved from the fire, are frequently consulted in the office of publication by his­torians. Incomplete but valuable duplicate files are also saved in the Seattle Public Library and in the University of Washington Library. 

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