by EL JOKER
Hoquiam’s News – A love affair with Newspapers
The steady growth of a town can be told on the number of publications being offered to its residents with much of the content being local news or events that cater to the immediate information needs of the local residents and their specific concerns.
The late 1800’s saw the first of a long list of publications that served the Hoquiam area and Grays Harbor, these papers picked up their numbers in the following decades with the biggest number of gazettes and newspapers being at least 200 in the middle of the 1930’s with the largest number existing during the golden days of the lumber industry in Hoquiam. The papers covered various issues and concerns and the people could not get enough of the editorials and commentaries that gave them insight into issues usually reserved for industry and political leaders.
Hoquiam’s main newspapers during those times were Gant’s Sawyer, the Gray’s Harbor Gazette, and of course the Hoquiam American as well as the Gray’s Harbor Washingtonian that was established in 1889 which gained much readership and respect.
During these times, the Washingtonian and its editors with the likes of Congressman Albert Johnson (1869-1957) who was vital in the echoing of support for women’s suffrage rights but opposed the labor unions and was strongly critical of the issues regarding immigrants. This was how crucial the newspapers were not only in Hoquiam’s political maturity but Grays Harbor’s as a whole as well.
There were many papers like the Grays Harbor Washingtonian that were mainly used to echo the sentiments of forces and groups that had direct interest in influencing Hoquiam’s thinking on several hotly contested issues. Papers like the Home Defender also published by Congressman Johnson continued to cajole and accuse migrant workers and organized labor of connivance and ill intentions against the lumber industry which was at its peak at that time.
The spread of hostile statements and accusations of bad faith and ill intent hounded immigrants and lumber workers through the editorials of these newspapers and these sentiments were pounded and driven into the psyche of the community, in some instances effectively changing public opinion regarding some very important issues.
One good thing about the big number or variation of publications available there was a good availability of dissenting opinions and information that was made available to the reading public and thus were not really handicapped in trying to understand or absorbed relevant and accurate information about certain issues, but of course it was up to the reader themselves if they were not going be satisfied with what they read with one newspaper unless what they were reading was what they wanted to believe in the first place.
The Washingtonian existed as a daily offering from 1903 to 1951 with its own brand of confrontational editorials that won it a loyal following, after which it became a weekly and after another 6 years folded up. The then Hoquiam and Grays Harbor publications opened the minds and emotions of the people of Hoquiam and the surrounding communities that were in fact socially relevant, issues that had direct impact on their livelihood and ultimately their way of life. These publications like the Washingtonian served up a healthy dose of what some sectors wanted to believe while others dreaded as falsities and black propaganda, regardless what their real intentions were, such papers drove the community to read more and raise their awareness to what was hopefully the actual reality.
The late 19th century and the first three decades of the 20th century proved to be the golden age of Hoquiam and the surrounding Grays Harbor, due mainly to the boom of the lumber industry where Hoquiam once led and was an undeniable industry giant. The whole gamut of papers and whatever they contained contributed to how Hoquiam was and now is and that going to be forever part of Hoquiam’s story.