The office of the  El Modena Record , 1888; On the right is editor I.G. Towns (courtesy the Santa Ana Public Library).

The office of the El Modena Record, 1888; On the right is editor I.G. Towns (courtesy the Santa Ana Public Library).

19th Century Orange County Newspapers

In the early days of Orange County, three things gave a community status – a school, a post office, and a newspaper. All of them suggested stability, importance, and a future. For modern historians, they also provide a unique glimpse of the past. Like any primary source, they have their failings; but the wealth of contemporary, eye-witness material they contain cannot be duplicated from any other source. Even the classified ads can sometimes prove useful.

Like any historical document, researchers need to understand who created these newspapers, and why. Journalism in the 19th century was a much more personal venture, with the intentions of the editors and publishers looming large on the page. But fortunately, unlike today, most 19th century newspapers were thoroughly partisan, openly declaring themselves Republican or Democratic sheets; a few others held themselves as “independent” – though their political leanings were usually quite obvious – or espoused some short-lived political cause. It was an honest admission that their owners intended to act on their political and social beliefs (a better system, perhaps, than today’s pretended objectivity). And since even small communities often had more than one paper to choose from (and access to larger, metropolitan papers) readers were free to choose the sort of coverage which best suited them.

Newspapers large and small were also expected to be “boosters” of their community in the late 19th century. Some were actually subsidized by local developers to promote a new town or tract (sometimes directly, sometimes with a guarantee of so much advertising or subscriptions), but almost every editor viewed it as his job to build up his local community. The theory was simple – as a town grew, there would be more advertisers and more subscribers, so their newspaper would also grow.

In terms of their own profession, early editors might seem erratic; they were quick to warmly welcome new papers to the field, just as quick to criticize their faults, and generally ready to mourn their passing. For many early papers that have not survived, the notes in their competitors are often the best record of their existence.

But some editors took their war of words with their competitors to the extreme, editorially slashing and stabbing for years on end. It was sometimes a matter of politics, but more often a question of circulation – newspaper wars made for good copy. In fact, some editors could be perfectly friendly face to face while slaughtering each other in print.

Researchers also need to bear in mind that not everything in local papers in the late 19th century was written by local editors and reporters. By the 1870s, small town publishers had access to “boiler plate” features and “patent pages” that could easily fill half of a four- or eight-page paper. “Boiler plate” was pre-set feature stories which could be inserted among the locally written columns. “Patent” pages took it a step further, with large printing houses selling full, pre-printed pages of national news summaries, features, and standing advertisements. A typical “patent exterior” was the first and fourth pages of a small weekly, pre-printed right down to a paper’s masthead and dateline. Local publishers then only had to print pages 2 and 3 on the other side. And to fit the political journalism of the day, the newspaper syndicates even offered a choice of content for their patent pages – Republican, Democrat, rural, urban . . . whatever a publisher wanted.

Considering the dearth of local papers today, it is remarkable how many small communities were able to support their own newspapers in the early days. In fact, a handful of local boosters or an ambitious editor could launch a paper for a few hundred dollars. A basic press was small and simple to operate. Handset type was tedious, but economical. On the other hand, many of these papers were short-lived; some came and went with political campaigns, others rose and fell with economic booms and busts. Some moved around from town to town, seeking a stable berth. All this combines with the passage of time (and both the bulk and fragility of newsprint) to leave us no known copies of some papers. Others survive today only in shadowy old microfilm, the originals long since thrown away.

This list includes the basic data on every known newspaper published in Orange County prior to 1900, including their dates of operation, founders, significant owners and editors, and other details. Rather than alphabetically, the papers are listed chronologically, town by town, as there was often a connection between the death of one paper and birth of another.

Digital copies of a few of these early papers are slowly appearing online. Additional early editions are available on microfilm, while some individual papers and short runs only survive as originals.

Jason Schultz has digitized many issues of the Anaheim Gazette (along with other early Anaheim papers) on his website,

The Orange Public Library and History Center has posted copies of the Orange Tribune, Orange Post, Orange News, El Modena Record, and Santa Ana Blade.

The California Digital Newspaper Collection provides free access to a growing collection of newspapers from around the state (though currently no 19th century Orange County titles). The best California collections on subscription sites are at and (both of which offer free trial subscriptions).

The best microfilm collections are available at UC Irvine, Cal State Fullerton, the Anaheim Public Library Heritage Room, the Santa Ana Public Library Local History Room, the Fullerton Public Library Local History Room, The Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley, and the California State Library in Sacramento.

Originals (including some rare sample copies) can be found at the Orange County Archives, UC Irvine Libraries Special Collections, the Sherman Library and Gardens, the Bowers Museum, and the Seaver Center Western History Research at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.

Eventually, I plan to expand this list to include papers published in Orange County from 1900 to 1930. As other 19th century papers come to light they will be added here.


 *Anaheim Gazette (October 29, 1870 – November 25, 1964)

          The first newspaper in what is now Orange County was founded in 1870 by George Washington Barter in the first American community in the area. Under its second owner, Charles A. Gardner, it was renamed the Southern Californian (December 16, 1871 – October 17, 1874). Normally a weekly, at various times in the 1870s it also issued daily and semi-weekly editions.

The early issues of the Gazette are an invaluable source for the history of the area as they include a good amount of news from the other communities that sprang up around Anaheim in the 1870s and ‘80s. Some of these articles are reprinted here, along with a more detailed history of the Gazette.

Anaheim historian Leo Friis wrote a brief biography of the Gazette’s founder, George W. Barter, Pioneer Editor (Pioneer Press, 1962), but failed to find the notice of his death in a Seattle asylum in 1891. (Los Angeles Times, April 25, 1891)

*The People’s Advocate (June 21, 1871 – December 1871)

            Like many politicians, Max Strobel, the first mayor of Anaheim, turned to the press to further his ambitions. Soon after the end of his term in 1871 he launched the People’s Advocate, with George C. Knox as editor. Strobel’s twin goals were to promote the creation of a separate Anaheim County and his own election to the State Legislature. Failing on both counts, he soon sold out to the Gazette, which reported: “On Saturday last we bought out the press, material, business and good will of the late People’s Advocate, and have consolidated that and the Anaheim Gazette into one paper, under the title of the Southern Californian. We adopt this new title as a representative name of the country we live in because we desire to make this paper something more than the mere local organ which the name ‘Anaheim Gazette’ would imply.” (12-16-1871)

*Anaheim Weekly Review (February 10, 1877 – December 1877)

            Though a civil engineer by profession, George C. Knox returned to the newspaper field in 1877 as the publisher of the Anaheim Weekly Review along with Edward F. Cahill. Knox was undoubtedly the senior partner, as he seems to have owned the printing press. Cahill would later serve as Anaheim City Clerk. The Review survived for less than a year; the Gazette reported its demise on January 2, 1878.

*The New Era (May 6, 1887 – September 1889)

            All the early papers in Anaheim were started in opposition to the Gazette, but The New Era seems to have taken the competition particularly seriously. It was published weekly by the Anaheim Publishing Co. (which suggests a number of investors), with first George D. Field and then D.W. Field as editor. G.D. Field also advertises in the paper as an attorney at law, with offices in the “New Era Printing Office.” As for the printing, a patent exterior took care of half of the pages, which (at least in 1888) carried a surprising number of out-of-town ads from Fullerton. Fullerton founder George Amerige later recalled that he owned an interest in the paper, but his claim that it eventually moved to Fullerton seems to be mistaken.

The New Era opposed the Gazette in the biggest local political battle of the 1880s, supporting county division in 1889 when the Gazette was staunchly against it. County division succeeded, but The New Era ended a few months later.

*Anaheim Semi-Weekly Budget (November 1889 – May 1890)

            Soon after the death of The New Era, the Anaheim Budget stepped up to challenge the Gazette. “The Anaheim Semi-weekly Budges is a new four-page paper published on Wednesday and Saturday at Anaheim, and devoted to the interests of the farmer, merchant and mechanic.” (Los Angeles Times, 11-8-1889) The “little semi-weekly – very weakly,” as Dan Baker of the Santa Ana Standard joked (5-17-1890) had even less success, folding after just six months.

*Anaheim Leader (1892?)

          Plans for a new paper in Anaheim were announced in February 1892. According to the Los Angeles Herald (2-7-1892): “The Anaheim Leader, a new Democratic paper, will soon be issued in Anaheim. Col. George W. Frame is said to be the backer of the enterprise, with John H. Harris, business manager. As Colonel Frame is known to be a Hill man for president, it is supposed that the Leader will advocate the nomination of New York’s favorite son for the presidency. The Leader will deserve unbounded success.” (Both Frame and Harris were active in Los Angeles politics. Mr. Hill was David B. Hill of New York, who was easily defeated by Grover Cleveland on the first ballot at the Democratic convention that year. ) Whether the Leader ever appeared is unclear.

*Anaheim Journal (May 26, 1892 – October 1893)

            In the spring of 1892, James Nugent decided to move the Fullerton Journal (see below) south to Anaheim. “Editor Nugent, of the Fullerton Journal was in Orange yesterday, packing up the old Tribune printing material preparatory to moving it to Anaheim, where he will begin the publication of the Anaheim Journal. By this arrangement the Fullerton Journal will be discontinued, but the locality of Fullerton will be ably represented in the new publication at Anaheim. The first issue of the Journal will appear Thursday of next week [May 26th], and will be issued from the Mitchell building on Center street. The Journal will have a good locality to represent and its editor will no doubt give the people of the Queen Colony a worthy exponent.” (Los Angeles Times, 5-17-1892)

Nugent worked hard to build his paper, increasing to eight pages in June, going to twice a week in November, and announcing plans for a new press and special Chicago World’s Fair edition in 1893. But before the year was out, financial troubles, an ugly libel suit, and the economic “panic” that swept the nation combined to drive the Journal out of business. Faced with at least $3,000 in debt, in October 1893 Nugent shut down his paper, declared insolvency and quickly left town.

Despite this failure, James Nugent went on to have a long and successful career in journalism, publishing papers in Central and Northern California well on into the 1930s.

*Anaheim Independent (May 19, 1894 – February 12, 1898)

            When the Anaheim Journal shut down, John Holverson of Fullerton was the leading creditor and ended up owning the printing plant after it was sold by the Sheriff in March 1894. Who first approached whom is unclear, but soon after, Holverson made a deal with W.A. Rugg to launch a new Anaheim paper. “Considerably to the surprise of the residents of Anaheim and vicinity a new weekly paper, the Anaheim Independent, was launched upon the local journalistic sea today,” the Los Angeles Times reported, “with W.A. Rugg, an old-time newspaper man, at its masthead. Mr. Rugg is an experienced newspaper man from Iowa, but has been on this Coast for the past several years, where he has been on duty in San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego. The Independent is typographically neat, well edited, and gives promise of being a useful member of the local newspaper fraternity.” (5-20-1894) Though “independent” in politics, the paper was basically a Populist organ.

A year later, B.L. Bourland bought out both Holverson and Rugg and ran the Independent for nearly three years, with Rugg staying on as editor (at least at first). Bourland sold out at the beginning of 1898.

“The Independent was on Tuesday sold to a syndicate of gentlemen headed by E.P. Fowler, whose name has recently been mentioned in connection with the Republican nomination for the assembly. The purchase price is said to have been $900. Mr. Holverson of Fullerton holds a mortgage on the plant, amounting to $100 or so. Mr. Bourland, the retiring editor, has been a resident of Anaheim for about three years, coming here from the state of Texas. He purchased the Independent plant from Mr. Holverson for $600, paying W.A. Rugg, his predecessor, $300 for the good will of the paper. J.E. Valjean, recently arrived from the East, will be the new editor, and Nap Donovan of Santa Ana will hold cases on the paper under its new management.” (Santa Ana Blade, 2-5-1898, quoting the Anaheim Gazette)

According to the Santa Ana Blade, the news owners immediately flipped the Independent’s politics. “The Anaheim Independent has been a good Democratic paper (that is, so far as such a thing is possible) under Editor Bourland’s management of the past several years. It continued to be Democratic until its issue of Saturday, when it came out at a white heat for the re-election of the Republican assemblyman from this county, Mr. Chynoweth. Such a sudden change could not be other than injurious and such was indeed the case – as it killed the paper making it and the Independent will appear no more. Peace to its ashes and may we meet it in Heaven where politics, sorrow and assemblymen cannot enter.” (Blade, 2-14-98)

*The Orange County Plain Dealer (February 19, 1898 – May 8, 1925)

          Planned or not, the demise of the Anaheim Independent led directly to the birth of the Orange County Plain Dealer, which started with its own name and numbering just one week later. “Volume I No. I of the Orange County Plaindealer [sic] has reached this office. The paper is printed at Anaheim, succeeding the Independent. It promises to be Republican in policy and disavows having any further interest in the coming campaign save that of the party as a whole. Altogether the paper is well gotten up and presents a neat appearance.” (Santa Ana Blade, 2-21-1898)

“We have received the first number of the Orange County Plaindealer [sic], published and edited at Anaheim by J.E. Valjean. Mr. Valjean, for many years, was editor of the Blade, of Portmouth, O., during which time he not only revolutionized the politics of Scioto county, making it reliably Republican, but his earnest and effective work for the development of local industries produced lasting results in the shape of prosperous home manufactories and other improvements. The citizens of Orange county are fortunate in having a man like Mr. Valjean in charge of the Plaindealer. They will always know where he stands on all public or local questions.” (Los Angeles Times, 2-22-98) Valjean edited the Plain Dealer almost until his death in 1914. His outspoken views sometimes got him into trouble. Edgar Johnson of the Fullerton Tribune seems to have taken a special disliking of him, and once complained of “the asinine utterances of the depraved paper in Anaheim sometimes known as the Pain-killer but which, as a prominent republican remarked to us recently in Santa Ana, is better known as the Orange County Plain Blackmailer. That degenerate blackmailing sheet is utterly unprincipled and total ignorant of every rule of common decency and courtesy. Poor Anaheim! She has suffered many afflictions, but to be the home of that ruthless, blackmailing rag is by far the worst of all. Since the day that sheet was established in the Mother Colony and raised its first whining howl, that town has each week suffered great damage by an additional product of depravity. The owners of the plant ought to lease it to decent people or close the office.” (Tribune, 4-21-1899)

Horace McPhee of the Santa Ana Daily Evening Blade piled on: “The paper has become one of the foulest and most abusive specimens of personal journalism that California has today within its borders. It deals in nothing but abuse and slander of those whose conduct does not happen to please the peculiar views of its editor, an old man to whom, it is very evident, age has not brought wisdom.” (Blade, 5-2-1899)

All this criticism should be taken with a grain of salt, coming from two of the Plain Dealer’s equally combative rivals. The paper survived (under different owners) until 1925, when it died in the fallout from the battle against the Ku Klux Klan in Anaheim – a story for another time.

*Amateur Papers

          During the 1870s, Anaheim also had two amateur or “juvenile” papers – that is, miniature newspapers published by young people. The first was the Anaheim Weekly School-Boy, born in March 1877. “The first number of the Weekly School-Boy was issued yesterday morning. Barrin’ a few typographical eccentricities, it is an extremely creditable production. It will be issued every Monday.” (Anaheim Gazette, 3-6-1877) It seems to have continued until the end of the school year in June.

By then, the paper had a competitor, the Young Californian, which first appeared on May 5, 1877. The publishers were listed as Helmsen, Barham & Pellegrin. Joseph Helmsen was then only about 16 year old and had already been working for Anaheim Gazette. The Young Californian was originally printed on a single, letter-sized sheet, folded to make four pages; later it was expanded to three columns on a 7x10 inch page. While primarily a juvenile, it had some local news items and advertising. The “boys” also produced Anaheim’s first City Directory in 1878. At that time the publishers had been reduced to Pellegrin & Barham. The paper survived until May 26, 1879.


*Bolsa Pathfinder (September 1897 – October 1899?)

            The little crossroads town of Bolsa (now the site of Little Saigon) was an odd spot for a newspaper in the 1890s – and an odd newspaper is just what it got. Reuben Otis Shively was a Bolsa chicken rancher and real estate agent who in 1897 launched the Bolsa Pathfinder. “The Pathfinder is the latest addition in the journalistic field of Orange county,” the Santa Ana Blade reported. “It is published monthly at Bolsa by R.O. Shiveley [sic] and is issued in the interests of the ‘west side’ for gratuitous distribution. The initial number came to hand today. There is a newspaper man at the helm and a good printer in the mechanical department. Its twelve pages of well selected matter is devoted to interesting news.” (9-15-1897)

Later references are not as complimentary, especially after Shively began claiming the largest circulation of any paper in Orange County. “The Standard of this city this week does a good turn for the business men of this community by puncturing the Shively windbag. Mr. Shively, it may be remembered, is the individual who publishes an advertising dodger and calls it the Pathfinder. He says the thing has an enormous circulation and, on the strength of this circulation, which exists only in the Shively mind, he solicits and sometimes receives advertisements from the business men of Santa Ana. By the inexorable logic of facts and figures the Standard demonstrates that Mr. Shively is ly–- no, mistaken, regarding the circulation of his dodger, and that as an advertising medium it is N.G. [no good]

“It is to be presumed, however, that Mr. Shively will keep right at it as long as the business men of Santa Ana will furnish the necessary sinews of war by paying for space in his dodger which, Mr. Shively says, has 80009278 circulation. Mr. Shively is too bad.” (Blade, 7-2-1898)

“The Shively person is still in evidence and by means of his dodger he abuses the three newspapers of this city and the business men who have in the past sized him up as a lying fakir and refused to patronize him. Judging from the latest bulletin issued from the Shively abode at Bolsa, his temperature is steadily rising until it threatens to become as hot as it was in his vicinity at San Jose. It is to be hoped that combustion with its attendant loss of property will not again result.” (Blade, July 19, 1898)

Yet the Pathfinder continued until at least the fall of 1899. By June of 1900, Shively is spoken of as the former manager of the paper. By 1903 he was dead, but his widow held on to the Pathfinder printing plant, which was used by at least two other Santa Ana newspapers after the turn of the century.


          “Buena Park is to have a newspaper,” the Westminster Tribune reported on March 28, 1891, but there seems no indication it ever appeared.


*Carlton Chronicle (February 25, 1888 - March 1888)

            Carlton was a boom town in what is now Yorba Linda, a child of the frantic real estate boom of the late 1880s. The tract map was filed in January 1888 and the Carlton Chronicle seems to have been launched as part of the advertising campaign a month later. At least two issues were published, but the boom burst and the town never took off. By June 1888 there were only four or five families living on the tract, and a month later the Anaheim Gazette reported “Families are still leaving Carlton. A few more moves and none will be left to tell the tale of ‘The Greatest Town of the Age.’” (7-26-1888)


*El Modena Record (April 6 – November 2, 1888)

            During the last days of the great real estate boom of the 1880s, the little town of El Modena added a newspaper to its list of amenities (which also included a hotel and a streetcar line to Orange). David Hewes, El Modena’s resident millionaire, bought a printing outfit and leased it to former Colorado newspaperman I.G. Towns, who launched a Republican weekly in April 1888. The four-page paper relied on a “patent” exterior to fill half its pages, but with the boom winding down, there simply wasn’t enough of an advertising or subscription base to make it pay. In September, Towns even threatened to publish a list of all his delinquent subscribers if they didn’t pay up. At the end, he wasn’t even able to pay his typesetter. In November, he threw in the towel. The Orange Tribune (11-10-1888) published what they called his “obituary” – “After a series of thirty-one issues of the El Modena Record, we turn over all material belonging to the Record to Mr. David Hewes, who will no doubt conduct the same in El Modena and for El Modena alone. We kindly thank the people of this vicinity for the support which they have given us. We desire also to render our thanks to our exchanges, for all the fraternal courtesies extended by them we highly appreciate.” (s) I.G. Towns.

“Mr. Towns has made a gallant struggle at El Modena,” the Pacific Weekly Blade noted, “but it was a case of ‘kicking against the pricks.’ A paper with insufficient support cannot well be a gorgeous success. We heartily wish Bro. Towns a better field and great success hereafter.” (Pacific Weekly Blade, 11-8-1888)

“What a Record of a Town a few short months will make,” sighed the Tribune.

El Modena’s woes only grew with the bursting of the boom. The hotel burned down in 1889, the streetcar washed out in ’91, and Hewes sold off the printing plant a year later.


*Fairview Register (May 5, 1888 – April 27, 1889)

            The short-lived town of Fairview (in what is now the northern end of Costa Mesa) enjoyed a brief flurry of prosperity during the great real estate boom of the late 1880s. It was primarily an advertising pitch for the town, sponsored by the developers. W.J. Collier was the first editor, followed by Elmer S. Wallace, who also served as one of the sales agents for the land company. Collier returned briefly in 1889, but the town was sinking fast by then, and the Register ceased publication in April after just one year.

“Buck” Wallace later became the Los Angeles Times correspondent in Santa Ana, served at different times as the editor of the Santa Ana Herald, and was one of the early co-owners of the Santa Ana Register.


*Fullerton Star (April 26, 1889 – November 15? 1889)

            Fullerton was less than two years old when the Star first appeared, with Winifred Clarke Hogaboom as editor. “We have received the initial number of the Fullerton Star, published at Fullerton, Cal., with W. Clark Hogaboom as editor. It promises to be a clean, newsy sheet and no doubt it will prove a power in advancing the interests of the tidy little town in which it is published and the surrounding country, but we believe it would serve this purpose better by advocating county division than by opposing it. We wish the Star a prosperous career.” (Orange News, 5-1-1889)

Besides a long career in journalism, Hogaboom was a “humorist” in the old 19th century tradition and was already writing droll comic pieces for the Star in 1889. A patent exterior took care of half of the rest of the paper, but he seems (at least in his first weeks as editor) to have been a little hard up for actual news. At the start of October, George Case purchased the Star and became editor; but he had no better luck, and the Star shut down about a month and a half later.

*Fullerton Journal (January 15, 1891 – May 1892)

            George Case made a second attempt at running a paper in Fullerton in 1891, along with his brother-in-law,     C.E. (Chet) Holcomb, the son of town’s first Methodist minister. Holcomb later recalled that he served as “reporter, editor, typesetter, pressman and business manager,” with Case presumably back in the editorial chair. “We didn’t have too much to write about in those days,” Holcomb said. “Mostly we scrapped with the Anaheim paper over one thing and another.” (Fullerton Daily News Tribune, 10-20-1955)

The pair soon sold out to James E. Nugent. Jim Sleeper notes: “Like most country weeklies, the Journal was essentially a family proposition. Nugent wrote the copy, gathered the ads, spiked the type and did the make-up while ‘his industrious wife ran the machinery in fine style.’” (quoting the Santa Ana Standard, 10-1-1892) Nugent seems to have made a serious attempt to give the town a solid local paper and did his part to boost the young town. “The illustrated edition of the Fullerton Journal, recently published, was a most creditable publication, one that will be of great benefit in making known the attractions of that place. Mr. James E. Nugent, the editor, is a most competent newspaperman whose efforts deserve the highest success.” (Los Angeles Herald, 3-14-1892)

But barely two months later, Nugent gave up and moved the Journal to Anaheim. To leave a town where he was publishing the only paper for a town where he would have competition does not speak well for business conditions in Fullerton in the early ‘90s, but things proved no better in Anaheim, and the Anaheim Journal folded in October 1893.

*Fullerton Tribune (April 1? 1893 – December 28, 1984)

            The Fullerton Tribune surely has the most tangled history of any early Orange County newspaper. The paper was well-traveled before it even reached Fullerton in 1893. Born in Santa Ana and raised in Westminster, the paper was already four years old when it arrived in town. The exact date of the first Fullerton issue is open to debate. The earliest surviving copy is dated April 15, 1893, but continues the numbering of the former Tribune(s), making it impossible to say if it was indeed the first. For now, April 1, 1893 seems to be the date to beat.

The original editor was Edgar Johnson, an ardent Democrat. When originally asked to move to Fullerton, he requested 300 subscriptions as a guarantee and later said that 20 residents put up the majority of the funds so Fullerton could again have a local paper. Even in an era of sharp-tongued journalism, Johnson’s editorial rants stand out. He was at times simply insulting, and there were seldom any neutral (much less complimentary) remarks about his rivals, which ranged from competing newspapers to C.C. Chapman, Fullerton’s first mayor. Still, the Tribune quickly became Fullerton’s leading paper. In the early 1900s, Johnson enlarged his paper, expanded its coverage, and renamed it the Orange County Tribune. In 1914 he added a daily edition. In 1926, Johnson bought out his primary rival, the Fullerton News (fd. 1902) and combined the papers to form the Fullerton Daily News Tribune.

The Tribune is also remarkable for having only three owners in its first 80 years. After 35 years in the editorial chair, Johnson finally sold the Tribune in 1929. It survived for another 55 years under various owners until the daily was finally shut down at the end of 1984 – the last to go of Orange County’s 19th century newspapers. In January 1985 it was reborn as a free-distribution weekly known as the Fullerton News-Tribune and later became merely a weekly insert in the Orange County Register. Not even the name survives today.

*Fullerton Journal (April 7 – May 1898)

            The first rival to try to take on Edgar Johnson and his Tribune was a second Fullerton Journal. It was even less successful than its predecessor. Longtime local newspaperman and printer Ulysses S. Lemon served as both editor and printer, with his father, J.N. Lemon, as publisher. The announcements for the paper all stressed that it would be Republican in politics, in contrast to the Tribune. “[I]f there is a long-felt want for it in Fullerton, the new paper is certainly well qualified to fill it,” the Santa Ana Blade noted. (4-12-1898)

There was not. The Blade soon quoted its obituary from the Whittier Register: “The Fullerton Journal has joined the ‘silent majority’ of newspaper ventures, after a brief struggle for existence, resulting in getting out three issues. This is a significant comment on the folly of partisan politics in local affairs, and the usual result of crowding in a second paper where there is merely room for one.” (5-26-1898)


          On December 12, 1891 the Westminster Tribune reported that “Bro. [A.T.] McDill is publishing an edition of the [Santa Ana] Herald for Garden Grove.” No other details seem to be available.


*Los Alamitos Bee (June 1897 – December 1897?)

            Los Alamitos was a brand new town in 1897, built around Orange County’s first sugar factory. The Los Alamitos Bee was essentially a boom town paper, launched even before the factory started boiling sugar beets. The editor was G. Glenn Shaw. No copies seem to have survived, so what we know about the Bee comes from other papers. Besides a few copied news items, there is this little squib from the Los Alamitos correspondent of the Los Angeles Times which suggests Shaw may have written some sharp editorials: “This place now has a newspaper, the Los Alamitos Bee, and one man in particular has found that it has a sting, in its effects second only to the ‘stingaree.’” (Los Angeles Times, 7-17-1897)

The paper only survived about six months. “The Los Alamitos Bee has ceased publication owing to lack of patronage and the proprietor, Geo. [sic] Shaw, has moved with his wife to Santa Ana.” (Santa Ana Blade, 1-7-1898)


*Orange Tribune (April 4, 1885 – August 3, 1889)

            Orange’s first newspaper was launched in April 1885 by William E. Ward, a longtime Northern California newspaperman. At the end of 1887, Ward sold the Tribune to Fred W. Clemens, who ran it for a little more than a year before leasing the paper to his printing foreman, Leslie B. Woodruff, and Ulysses Sidney Lemon in March 1889. Lemon left in July and went on to have a long career in Orange County journalism. Woodruff was only able to keep the Tribune alive another week or two before giving up.

*The Orange News (December 19, 1888 – July 18, 1919)

          The Orange News was founded by James Fullerton as an independent weekly – which is to say, he was a Democrat publishing a paper in a Republican town. Fullerton served as editor and publisher for 18 years, finally retiring in 1906. The new owner, George Wright, added a daily edition in 1908, but the weekly continued until 1919. Wright sold out to William O. Hart and Justus Craemer in 1909, who grew the Orange Daily News into one of the leading newspapers in the county. It continued under various owners until 1967, when it was reduced to a weekly; it shut down for good in 1968.

*The Orange Post (August 10, 1889 – December 26, 1916; August 1, 1919 – August 2, 1946)

          With the demise of the Orange Tribune, Leslie B. Woodruff bought his own small printing plant and founded the Orange Post -- “a virtual continuation of the Tribune,” he claimed. Just a few months later he sold out to brothers William and Edward Arne. In 1892 Alice L. Armor acquired the Post and published it for the next 27 years – one of the few female editors in Southern California at the time. Between 1915 and 1919 it passed through various owners, was advanced to a semi-weekly, then returned to a weekly, then replaced by the Orange Star. The Post masthead was revived in 1919 when Hart & Craemer of the rival Orange Daily News bought the Star. They continued the Post as a weekly until 1946, in part to discourage any other publishers from starting a competing paper in Orange.


*Santa Ana Valley News (May 6, 1876 – May 1878)

            Santa Ana’s first newspaper was long in coming. Printer Napoleon “Nap” Donovan issued a prospectus announcing the planned publication in January 1876, but it was not until May 6th that the first issue of the Santa Ana Valley News finally appeared. But Donovan did not stay with his paper very long, selling it before the year was out – perhaps in August, when the Anaheim Gazette reported that the News had become a “radical Democratic sheet.” (8-23-1876) There may have been some other changes in ownership (and politics) in the coming years; in any case, it was Rev. H.R. Wiley who finally sold the Santa Ana Valley News to E.F. Ferguson in May 1878. It was soon reconstituted as the Santa Ana Herald.

*Weekly Times (February 22, 1877 – September 1880)

            In 1877 the News got a competitor in the form of the Santa Ana Weekly Times. It was later run (if not founded by) Frank Cobler, another of the wandering printers/newspapermen of the day who spiked type and wrote copy from Los Angeles to Tucson in the 1870s, ‘80s, and ‘90s. His brothers, Al and Bert, also apparently worked on the Times. In May 1880, Frank Cobler sold the Times to Santa Ana pioneer Jacob Ross, but he also bought the Santa Ana Herald four months later and killed off the Times.

*Santa Ana Herald (June 1, 1878 – July 1903)

            After E.F. Ferguson bought and closed the Santa Ana Valley News in 1878 he brought back Nap Donovan to start a new paper, the Santa Ana Herald. Ferguson sold out to Donovan a year later, but once again his ownership was brief; in November 1879 he sold to James W. Layman. He kept the Herald for less than a year, selling out to Jacob Ross in September 1880. Ross already owned the competing Santa Ana Times, so he shut down the Times and enlarged the Herald to become Santa Ana’s only newspaper.

Ross was no newspaperman; he probably bought these papers both to boost his hometown and to further his own political career (he later served on both the Los Angeles and Orange County board of supervisors). So he hired N.S. Short, former editor of the Times, as editor of his enlarged Herald. He served as editor off and on for the next year and half, and ran the printing side of the business as well. In 1880 he also started his own commercial printing business next door.

The Herald’s editorial policy (to put it bluntly) seems to have been up for sale in the early days, and there was little attempt to hide the motivation for its shifts in politics. During the primary elections in August 1879, while Nap Donovan still owned the paper, local Republicans raised a subscription to fund ten daily issues of the Herald. At least two issues of this “small but spicy” sheet were issued. (Anaheim Gazette, 8-23-1879) Then during the 1880 national elections, H.N. Short was hired back to run the paper as a Democratic organ.

The Herald finally became firmly Democratic in January 1881 when it was purchased by Alonzo Waite. Waite was a pioneer in Southern California journalism; he worked as a printer on the first paper in Los Angeles in the 1850s, was co-founder of the Semi-Weekly Southern News there in 1860, and published the Downey Courier in the 1870s. Despite its name, the Southern News was pro-Union during the Civil War – an unpopular position with many Angelenos. After reading through a year of the Courier, one writer commented: “Editor Waite was a Democrat. Of this fact he left no one in doubt … in fact his estimation of things Republican was only a step higher than his estimation of his Satanic majesty, and a short step at that.” But he was compelled to add: “Mr. Waite was a good editorial writer, keeping his remarks brief and to the point, a faculty that certainly can be recommended to many present day editors.” (Orange County History Series, vol. 3, 1939)

Alonzo Waite also gave the Herald some stability, publishing it right up until his sudden death in 1889. “The Herald has more than double the circulation of any other paper published in the Santa Ana valley,” he noted in 1884. “By this we mean bona fide, paying subscribers. In the postoffices of Santa Ana, Orange, Tustin, Newport, Westminster, Garden Grove, Los Angeles, etc., this statement could be verified by the postmasters were it allowable. A very large town list is delivered by carrier. We have no desire to brag, but simply to state what we know to be facts.” (Herald, 1-26-1884) Flush with success during the real estate boom of the 1880s, Waite even tried to launch a daily edition in 1887. It folded after just four issues.

After Waite’s death the Herald was run briefly by his son before being auctioned off by his estate in July 1890. The high bidder was Rev. A.T. McDill (perhaps with the backing of certain local Republican leaders), who renamed it the Orange County Herald. He and his son ran the paper for the next year before selling out to H.W. Bessac and R.Q. Wickham (Orange County’s first County Clerk). Later Linn Shaw and E.S. Wallace owned and operated the paper.

Over the coming years the Herald would attempt from time to time to increase its publication schedule as both a semi-weekly and a daily. It survived until 1903 when it was bought out by its longtime rival, the Santa Ana Blade.

*Santa Ana Daily News (1878)

          The first attempt at a daily paper in Santa Ana was the aptly named Santa Ana Daily News. It was “about as large as a sheet of ordinary letter paper,” one Santa Ana pioneer recalled. But the time was not right, and it “was published twice and died miserably in 1878.” (Santa Ana Blade, 5-12-1906)

*Free Lance (ca 1878)

          Newspaper historian John W. Dunlap claimed that this Democratic weekly was “probably a weekly edition of the Santa Ana Valley News,” but contemporary documentation seems lacking. Perhaps there is some confusion with T.S. Harris’ Los Angeles Free Lance, “a small advertising sheet” published 1883. In any case, the Santa Ana Free Lance is said to have suspended after just a few issues.

*Santa Ana Record (1881?)

            After leaving the Santa Ana Herald for good, in 1881 H.N. Short announced plans for a new paper of his own: “Mr. H.N. Short will commence the publication of the Santa Ana Record, issuing his first number, probably, on Wednesday next. The paper will be published weekly, about the size of the former Times. Mr. Short is well and favorably known in the newspaper field, and we wish him abundant success in his enterprise.” (Herald, 9-17-1881) The Los Angeles Herald carried a similar notice two days later, but if the Record ever appeared it was short-lived, and no copies seem to have survived. Instead, a year later, Short and W.D. Morton (later editor of the Santa Ana Blade) left town to start the Pomona Times.

*Santa Ana Standard (January 21, 1882 – July 26, 1901)

            Thomas S. Harris founded the Santa Ana Standard after several years of publishing mining camp newspapers in Panamint and Bodie. His rough-and-tumble style of journalism does not seem to have gone over well with his competitors. The Santa Ana Herald once complained of “the grotesque antics of ‘the man from Bodie’” with his “surplus [of] bile” (9-9-1882.) Harris began the paper as a semi-weekly, but soon reduced it to a monthly. At the end of the year Harris sold the Standard to Charles and Cathmor Stamps, who sold out in August 1883 to Dan M. Baker, an Iowa newspaperman who had arrived in town just two days before. Harris’ newspaper career, before, during, and after Santa Ana is described in Richard Lingenfelter and Richard Dwyer’s brief biography, The ‘Nonpareil’ Press of T.S. Harris (1957).

Dan Baker was something of a legend, even in his own time. His strong opinions and snappy style soon made his paper widely read (if not always appreciated). Baker lived for the battle, but was always willing to open the columns of his paper to other views. “The Standard aims to deal fairly with every topic of the day. It has labored for county division since 1883 and lived to see the grand measure adopted. It has taken a hand in every fight or quarrel of a public character that has been known in the valley since that time. It has held its own opinions and candidly expressed them and always guaranteed to its opponents an equal right and a fair hearing. It will still adhere to the same just and manly policy for all time to come.” (Standard, 6-15-1889)

Baker was full of contradictions. A free-thinker full of strong opinions, he was anti-slavery, but a racist; a hard line Democrat, but a hater of unions; all in all an odd fit for Orange County, but an influential voice nonetheless. Jim Sleeper’s life and times biography of Baker, Turn the Rascals Out! The Life and Times of Orange County’s Fighting Editor, Dan M. Baker (1973) should be on every Orange County history shelf.

Baker ran the Standard for 15 years before selling out in February 1898 to R.A. Dague and Frank Honeywell. After that, the paper changed hands with bewildering speed. Dague left a few months later, and the partnership became Honeywell and Crooks, who sold out to Lon Chapin, who sold out in February 1899 to Belmont Perry, a recent arrival from New Jersey. “Mr. Perry,” wrote the Santa Ana Blade, “as one may readily conceive by his newspaper work, is a cultured gentleman with a twist towards exuberance, but he evidently labors under a misapprehension, either of his own importance or the gullibility of the community…. The Standard is dead, irretrievably and irrevocably extinct as a newspaper.” (9-16-1899)

Their report was correct, but two years early. The Standard breathed its last in July 1901.

*Santa Ana Blade (September 1886 – March 16, 1918)

            The Santa Ana Blade was founded as a Republican rival to Dan Baker’s Standard. It went by many names over the years, beginning as the Pacific Weekly Blade. Later, as the publication schedule varied, it was known as the Weekly Blade, the Semi-Weekly Blade, the Morning Blade, and the Daily Evening Blade. The founding publishers were A.J. Waterhouse and W.F.X. Parker. “Exactly when the Blade was launched is a moot point,” Jim Sleeper noted, “but September 1886 will do for a starter.” Waterhouse bought out Parker a year later and ran the Blade until January 1889. Parker went on to serve as a lobbyist for the Southern Pacific railroad (a major political force in California in the 19th century). Waterhouse had a long career in California journalism. Years later, in a reflective mood he wrote:

“My mind goes back through the years, and again I look upon a paper which I also published to elevate, cultivate, beautify, help treat and entertain almost everything in sight. The world needed uplifting, I said to myself, and I might as well shove it upward a few rods as to be fooling around and drinking Schlitz’ nectar. So I gave it a regular weekly shove, and all the godly people said I was doing beautifully, while the ungodly came around and took out their ads, and I noticed with mingled surprise and pain that the ungodly did the most of the advertising. Almost any week scores of good people used to come to me and say, ‘You are doing a noble work; I will pay my subscription next fall when I sell my peaches;’ and some months I would collect as much as $35 for advertisements. I lifted up a clarion voice against the mammon of unrighteousness, and on any week some one of the mammon would drop in to ‘lick the editor.’ They were great, husky mammons, too, and frequently they would succeed in doing what they came to do. Finally I borrowed $20 from a mammon who thought it was worth that to him, and left the town.”

Nap Donovan bought the Blade in June 1889. He seems to have been funded by a group of local civic leaders including town founder William H. Spurgeon and attorney Victor Montgomery. “[W]e learn that is it to be moderately Democratic in tone according to the necessities of the case,” the Santa Ana Standard noted. (7-27-1889) For the next few years, the Blade was continually changing owners, editors, and politics until Horace McPhee took over, first leasing in 1895 and then finally buying the paper in 1898.

Under McPhee’s management, the Blade became the leading paper in Orange County. In 1903 he bought out the old Santa Ana Herald, further increasing his local dominance. But while McPhee’s paper was widely read his own reputation was not always the best. A libel suit in 1899 revealed that he had been demanding money from political candidates in return for positive coverage, and in a later campaign he even published a fake newspaper in an attempt to sway voters.

After 1905 the Blade’s influence began to fade as the new Santa Ana Register began to dominate the field. After 19 years, Horace McPhee finally sold the Blade to Frank Clarkson. McPhee continued in the newspaper business after leaving Orange County, publishing the Santa Paula Chronicle from 1916-24. See Mary Alice Orcutt Henderson, Glancing Through the Headlines: Santa Paula Chronicle, “H. McPhee & Co., Proprietors,” 1916-1924 (1986) for examples of his work there. He died in 1944 at the age of 84. The Blade survived until 1918, when it was bought out by the Register.

*Morning Telegram (1880s)

            Reportedly a short-lived paper of the 1880s; no other details seem to be available.

*Orange County Chronicle (May 30 – July 9, 1889)

            In the excitement over the creation of Orange County in 1889, several new newspapers were founded. The Orange County Chronicle adopted the new name even before voters had officially approved the new county. Sackett Cornell, who had been publishing the Los Angeles Telegram, launched the daily five days before the division election, but it folded after just 34 issues. Cornell tried to revive the Chronicle, but it never happened. Dan Baker later blamed union printers for its demise (as well as bankrupting Waterhouse on the Blade and killing off the Free Press).

*Santa Ana Tribune (August 1? 1889 – October 1889) / Orange County Tribune (January 30, 1893 – March? 1893)

            After working for other local papers for several years, in the summer of 1889 Edgar Johnson launched his own daily, the Santa Ana Tribune – apparently first published on August 1st, the very day Orange County was officially born. But in a crowded field, Johnson could not find a niche, and the Orange County Tribune died in late October.

But the Tribune name lived on. In 1890 Johnson started the Westminster Tribune (see below). When that didn’t pan out, he returned to Santa Ana and on January 30, 1893 published the first issue of the monthly Orange County Tribune. “The Orange County Tribune, a newsy little monthly, comes to our desk today and shows itself to be quite a paper. It gives news from all over Orange county, and gives [it], in a clear, concise way.” (San Bernardino Daily Courier, 2-1-1893) But this third Tribune saw only two or three issues. Finally Johnson took his Tribune to Fullerton where it took root and grew into that community’s leader paper for generations.

*The Free Press (August 3, 1889 – October 10, 1891)

            The Santa Ana Free Press was something of a satellite of the Los Angeles Evening Express, and first appeared two days after the official birth of Orange County as an evening daily in tabloid format. Lester Osborne (brother of Express owner H.Z. Osborne) and George R. Broadbere were the founders, with Broadbere serving as editor. Within days, the Free Press was made the official newspaper of the City of Santa Ana, and it soon got the county advertising as well – though at “starvation rates” the other papers complained. “The Press is strictly Republican in politics,” the Santa Ana Standard noted, “six columns in size, neat in appearance, newsy in matter and looks as though it had come to fill another long-felt want. As we now have two excellent dailies in town, neither of which will be strongly supported by the public, and a third one threatened, we suppose the doctrine of survival of the fittest will apply.” (Standard, 8-10-1889)

Seldom was Dan Baker more right. The Free Press struggled along for two years through several changes in owners and editors. As early as November 1889 the other local papers reported its imminent demise; the Press added a daily edition instead. Lester Osborne got out about that time and went back to work for the Express. Former Fairview newspaperman E.S. Wallace bought his interest in the Free Press and became local editor and business manager. A few weeks later Santa Ana dentist Royal F. Burgess bought a controlling interest in the paper and its printing plant. George Broadbere left in October 1890, with H.J. Vail taking over as editor. In the spring of 1891, “Messrs. H.J. Vail, as editor, W.C. Hogaboom, as city editor and business manager, and J.F. Becker, as foreman and general director in the mechanical departments of both the news and job rooms, now form the Press Publishing Company, having leased the same from Dr. Burgess, whose retirement was announced last evening.” (Santa Ana Blade, 5-7-1891) Along the way the paper even lost the “free” from its name, becoming simply the Daily Press.

The Press died in a tangle of lawsuits and debt in October 1891. The remains were “absorbed” by Santa Ana Blade, which found that the daily edition had only 133 paid subscribers left.

*Santa Ana Pilot (November 9, 1889 – June 23, 1890)

            A Prohibitionist weekly, published by Rev. J.S. Clarke, “dedicated,” wrote Jim Sleeper, “to Santa Ana’s moral regeneration.” The paper started a stir in 1890 when it objected to Santa Ana’s Jewish merchants staying open on Sundays and was quickly attacked by its competitors. “Bro. Clark’s little spicy, prohibition Sunday organ” (as Dan Baker called it) shut down almost immediately thereafter.

*Santa Ana Sentinel (December 10, 1891 - 1892?)

          “The first number of the Santa Ana Sentinel has been received. It is published by U.S. Lemon, and locally edited by J. Wiley Harris. It is a six-column, four-page paper, and will be the organ of the Orange County Alliance…. The paper is printed at Orange, but its headquarters for business is in ‘The Alliance Agency Co-Operative Store’ in Santa Ana. While the Blade is unable to see the necessity for the publication of the Sentinel, the gentlemen connected with it are worthy of support, and would be liberally sustained if the additional burden was not more than the business men can stand.” (Santa Ana Blade, 12-10-1891) The Sentinel was the “Official Paper of the Orange County Farmer’s Alliance and Industrial Union,” a Populist movement. Though published in Santa Ana, the original proprietors were all from Orange, where the paper was printed. After four months, Abbott B. Clark bought a controlling interest, Sid Lemon left the paper, and it dropped its connection to the Farmer’s Alliance. Clark’s editorial stance (such as it was) can be seen in this excerpt from his first editorial:

“In assuming a share in the management of the Santa Ana Sentinel we do it with a feeling that we are taking a more active share in the Welfare, the Nature and Destiny of our fellow men. We hope that we may tune our lives so near to the Soul of things that we may live as a part of all that lives, and ‘be an impersonal force for good.’

“We shall remember that ‘There is no Religion higher than TRUTH,’ and there should be no Party or faction higher in our interests than our devotion to All Humanity as a Whole. Whatever tends to promise the Brotherhood of Man – Farmers’ Alliance, Co-operation, Nationalism, Theosophy, or anything that time shall evolve – we shall, to the best of our ability, try to promote, and while we strive to be reformers in everything be fanatics in nothing.” (s) Abbott B. Clark, F.T.S. (reprinted in the Blade, 3-24-1892)

Clark stayed with the Sentinel just a few weeks. “[I]t is understood that Mr. Clark has severed his relationship with that paper and accepted a position on the Los Angeles Porcupine, where he is now located.” (Blade, 5-5-1892) In August 1892, the paper was reduced in size and it seems to have folded soon after.

*Santa Ana Press (1892 - 1898?)

            The Santa Ana Press began life as a small-sized sheet called the Squint. Louis Edwards was editor and proprietor. If not originally an amateur paper, it does seem to have been rather amateurish – if the excerpts quoted in the Santa Ana Blade are any indication:          

“We are indebted to the Squint for the following bits of news, which are printed verbatim. It is a case of ‘English as she is spoke:’

“‘One or two cases of diphtheria which is causing quite a number of children to quit school for fear of inheriting the disease.’”

And again:

“A large number of people are disappointed between the hours of which the baloon [sic] ascension and parachute jump was to take place in Santa Ana last Saturday.” (Blade, 4-21-1892)

In the summer of 1892 Edwards enlarged his paper and renamed it the Santa Ana Press. “The Squint has ceased to squint,” the Los Angeles Times reported, “and has blossomed out a full blown rose, and now sails out into the sea of journalism as the Press. It’s a great paper, and no mistake.” (8-22-1892) The next summer, Edwards again enlarged his paper. “The Santa Ana Press, a small weekly publication that has for the past year been paddling around in the journalistic breakers after they had broken on the shore, this week launches out in enlarged form among the heavier swells headed for the open sea, with a fair wind.” (Times, 7-1-1893)

But there was trouble brewing. Edwards had bought the printing plant of the defunct Westminster Star but apparently wasn’t keeping up the payments and in 1894 was sued over the debt. He seems to have weathered the storm, however, as the Los Angeles Herald reprints an item from the Santa Ana Press as late as June 1898.

*Santa Ana Times (June 1? 1895 – 1897?)

            The second Santa Ana Times seems to have been Orange County’s first chain newspaper. “Articles of incorporation were filed in Santa Ana today (Tuesday) by the Santa Ana Times Company, whose business it will be, so it is stated, to carry on and conduct the printing and publishing of a newspaper, to be issued weekly and known as the Santa Ana Times. The five directors of the company are William H. Carlson, Frank H. Dixon, W.L. Phillips, A.G. Edwards and A.B. Cunningham, all of San Diego.” (Los Angeles Times, 5-29-1895) “‘Billy’ Carlson of San Diego was in Santa Ana Thursday of this week on business pertaining to the establishment of the new weekly paper, to be known as ‘The Santa Ana Times’ in that city. In conversation with the Times representative he stated that he was also starting several other papers in Southern California. The first issue of the Times for Santa Ana, he stated, would arrive there Saturday, June 1. The other papers will be issued in Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside and San Diego. The printing of all the papers will be done in Los Angeles, and will be sent out by express.” (Times, 6-1-1895)

As there were already one daily and three weekly papers in Santa Ana, there would hardly seem to have been a need for a new, outside paper. But the Times survived for at least two years, with W.D. Morton as local editor.

*Santa Ana Bulletin (June 16, 1899 – 1936?)

          Dan Baker soon came to regret his sale of the Santa Ana Standard, and in June 1899 started a new paper, the Santa Ana Bulletin, in partnership with W.J. Rouse, an experienced newspaperman who soon eloped with Baker’s daughter Minnie – followed just as quickly by the sale of his half of the paper to Fred Chamberlin. Baker edited the paper in his old bombastic style until his health failed. He died in October 1902. His biographer, Jim Sleeper, wrote: “Friend and foe were in agreement on one thing: he was frank and utterly fearless. He never hesitated in taking a course he thought to be right. Strong and well grounded in his convictions, he maintained them to the last.” The Bulletin continued to be published for another 35 years under various owners but never made much of a mark on Orange County journalism again.


*Tustin Telegraph (1880s?)

* Tustin Sentinel (1890s?)

            According to historian (and longtime Tustin resident) Jim Sleeper: “While dates are a bit wispy, the earliest Tustin paper was one called ‘the Telegraph,’ followed by the Tustin ‘Sentinel.’ Both appeared prior to the turn of the century, both purportedly weeklies, and both edited by preachers. Essentially church bulletins, neither cut much of a swath in the community, though that is not too surprising as neither got off a second shot.” (Tustin News, 11-17-1977) Elsewhere Sleeper noted that Wesley Williams was probably the editor of one of these papers. Further details are lacking.


*The Tribune (January 25, 1890 – October 8, 1892?)

            Between Santa Ana and Fullerton, Edgar Johnson briefly brought his Tribune to Westminster. It was a tabloid-size sheet, originally printed in Santa Ana, where Edgar Johnson continued to live for some time. “The Tribune is now in its third year,” he noted in 1892, “and still holds its own both in circulation and advertising…. We tried publishing a larger paper in this place and found that the patronage would not justify it, and it was either a smaller paper or none at all. As an evidence that the people are satisfied with the Tribune, nearly every family in this town continues to take it.” (Santa Ana Blade, 3-24-1892) A patent exterior also helped make the paper possible.

The masthead numbering on the surviving Tribunes is a jumble: the issue for March 28, 1891 is marked volume 3 number 10, but just fourth months later (July 25th) it had somehow reached volume 4. They next January, Johnson announced the paper was beginning its third year, but that edition (1-23-1892) is numbered volume 5 number 1. The latest issue available on microfilm is October 8, 1892, and it may have been the paper’s last. In any event, Johnson packed his type cases early in 1893 and moved to Fullerton, where he began publication of the Fullerton Tribune in April.

*Westminster Star (April 1? 1893 – December? 1893)

          Following the departure of Tribune, Rev. W.J. Thompson, a Congregationalist minister, started a second paper in Westminster, the Westminster Star. “The Westminster Star is a new paper, booked to appear next Saturday. It will be published in the interest if the fertile peat land district, near which are located two very prosperous towns, Westminster and Garden Grove.” (Los Angeles Times, 3-27-1893) He seems to have had a hard time of it. “The Westminster Star has failed to twinkle for the past two weeks, and the general impression is that it has passed into the great hereafter to sleep the sleep that knows no waking.” (Los Angeles Times, 10-1-1893)

But reports of the Star’s death were premature. On October 28, 1893 the Fullerton Tribune reported that Rev. Thompson planned to keep the paper going – though the Tribune’s editor (former Westminster publisher Edgar Johnson) claimed “the little thumb paper over at Westminster” didn’t even have 50 subscribers. In December, John reported that the Star was relocating to Anaheim, but it never seems to have made the move. Early in 1894, Rev. Thompson sold his printing outfit to the Santa Ana Press.

*Westminster Umpire (October 2, 1897 - January? 1898)

            Westminster’s third paper was the brainchild of two young newspapermen, James Buck and E.H. Paine. Buck, the Fullerton Tribune tells us, had “been employed some time on the [Anaheim] Gazette,” while Paine “has been foreman of the Tribune during the past 15 months…. The boys are both practical printers and have all the qualifications necessary to give the people of that place a live local paper. They have purchased a first class printing plant and will have it in working order next week, when the Westminsterites may look for a rattling good paper.” (Quoted in the Santa Ana Blade, 9-13-1897) Buck was the editor and Paine was the business manager. “It would hardly seem that there is a field for a newspaper at Westminster,” the Santa Ana Blade noted after receiving the first issue, “but if the event should prove that a ‘long felt want’ exists, the Umpire will doubtless be able to fill it to the satisfaction of everybody.” (Blade, 10-6-1897) “It is bright, spicy, and typographically neat,” the Tribune added. (10-9-1897)

No explanation for the paper’s unusual name seems to have survived. Its owners were always spoken of as young men, so perhaps they were baseball players. Their paper struggled through a few innings, but never found as much support as they had hoped. “The Westminster Umpire doubts that there is a hell,” the Blade reported (12-9-1897). “By the time the boys have run a paper at Westminster, where none is needed, a few months longer they will readily concede that their present views should be amended.” About that same time, Paine sold his share to Walter Evans of San Diego, but he and Buck soon threw in the towel. On February 6, 1898 the Los Angeles Times reported the death of the Umpire. There were soon rumors of another newspaper at Westminster (Fullerton Tribune, 6-10-1898), but the town would be without a paper for many years to come.


            Anyone researching Orange County history in the 19th century should also spend some time in the Los Angeles papers, which contain a fair amount of local news – especially before county division in 1889. The first was the Los Angeles Star, established in 1851, shut down in 1864, and revived from 1868-1879 (much of that time as a daily). Many of the earliest editions are available online through the California Digital Newspaper Collection and the University of Southern California’s digital library. Some additional years are available via Genealogybank.

L.A.’s first Spanish-language paper, El Clamor Publico (The Public Outcry) was published from 1855-1859 and is available online through the University of Southern California’s digital library.

Also easily available online is the Los Angeles Herald beginning in 1874, available through several websites, including the California Digital Newspaper Collection.

The Los Angeles Times did not begin publication until 1881. The early issues are available online through and

A rare copy of Santa Ana's first newspaper, the  Santa Ana Valley News , 1876.

A rare copy of Santa Ana's first newspaper, the Santa Ana Valley News, 1876.