Hoquiam’s News – The Washingtonian
Hoquiam town grew with such speed that those who called Hoquiam their home and those who resided in the surrounding areas experienced a large number of newspapers and other published works that tackled varying degrees of local, state and national concerns. It is said that you can gauge a town’s maturity based on the news printed on its papers and mature Hoquiam did become.
Hoquiam town was such a community with a menagerie of newspapers and gazettes established during the latter half of the nineteenth century and the earlier part of the twentieth century. Even before the start of the nineteen hundreds there were already about twenty publications in the Grays Harbor area. These newspapers especially during the time from the 1900’s up to the 1930’s were offering a wide gamut of information that touched on political, ethnic, ideological, and other special interest that catered to the needs of both residents and non-residents to Hoquiam and the general Grays Harbor area. The total may have been more than 200 newspapers at their peak.
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.
Congressman Albert Johnson was one of the first editors of the Grays Harbor Washingtonian and his fiery editorials gave Hoquiam’s residents and large migrant labor force a lot to think and contemplate on. Mister Johnson’s stand on issues such as organized labor and immigrant status bordered on mistrust and hatred while at the same time the same editor championed women’s rights to suffrage.
Newspapers such as the Washingtonian and many others like it were basically propaganda pieces of various interest groups involved in the Hoquiam area and its major industry during that time which was lumber. The same editor of the Washingtonian, Congressman Albert Johnson also published the Home Defender which blatantly lambasted labor activism and immigrant workers.
The Hoquiam newspapers like the “Washie” was continuously used as a mouthpiece for anti organized labor tirades and were also utilized as jumping boards by editors who also had political ambitions. The papers were not only informing the public about relevant events but also continuously feeding the readers with different sentiments that touched on their livelihood and or emotional sentiments regarding certain 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.