What do The Courier, the New Republican, Truth Teller, Puget Sound Herald, Western Star, Puget Sound Express and Steilacoom News have in common?
Between the mid-to late 1800s these regional publications reported the happenings in and around Steilacoom. They’re long gone, but, for history buffs, they can be still be read—by anyone willing to make the time and effort.
Sadly, due to ever-changing technology, newspapers are becoming little more than historic relics.
For the diehard newspaper reader, though, it’s possible to view old news stories, advertisements, etc. via microfilm through the public library.
Because these papers have been archived, it’s possible to get a taste of the good old days. With a bit of effort, it’s possible to read about what occurred in places such as Steilacoom.
Although the town did not have the first newspaper in the territory: that title was claimed by Olympia which had the “Columbian” in 1852. Nevertheless, Steilacoom did have some of the earliest newspapers beginning with the 1855 publication of the “Puget Sound Courier.”
An overview of early newspaper history was the topic of a May 24 presentation given at the Steilacoom Historical Museum Association by writer/journalist, Nancy Covert, who’s interest in the topic was sparked two decades ago after she arrived in the Town on the Sound.
A copy of “Town on the Sound,” (a collection of stories about early Steilacoom) a welcome-to-Steilacoom gift she received from Donn and Trish Laughlin, sparked Nancy’s continuing quest to research the history of local papers, from the Courier to the Suburban Times, from The Schoolboy (an 1898 publication created by 8th grade students at Steilacoom School) to the Lakewood Log—a 1937 newspaper published by Steilacoom School graduate, Charles Mann, followed by the Suburban Times.
Ms. Covert currently is completing a manuscript chronicling that history.
Bound copies of the Log and the Suburban Times, can be viewed at the Lakewood Historical Society on Mt. Tacoma Drive.
The poem, reprinted below, was published in the first edition of Nov. 21, 1872 issue of The Puget Sound Express.
“Puget Sound by Dr. S. R.”
“Earth has her lovely rural scenes
In every region fond
But none hemmed in with evergreens
Like those on Puget Sound
Arm of Pacific’s crystal tide
Where ships at anchor safely ride
When tempests fiercely blow
The Olympic Mountains’ veteran guests
In silver garb array
With snow-capped peaks
Bright shining crests
Heralds of winter’s day
When summer in our valley shines
Green is the earth below
Where moss-rose, violet and wood-bine in wild profusion grow
In winter here green are our isles
And rich with heritage crowned, But nature laughs
When summer smiles and reigns o’er Puget Sound.
Of the Cascades, grand Rainier
Chief of the Mountains round
Points out to the western pioneer
The way to Puget Sound
Delightful scenery of the west, where lakes and streams abound,
Where lakes and streams about, where snow-capped mountain peaks invest
Our home on Puget Sound.
If there’s a wanderer o’er the plains
Who has no homestead found, he may enhance his earthly gains
By settling on Puget Sound.”
(The Express was published “every Thursday morning” by Julius Dickens