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(Seattle & Northern 1890)

Skagit River Journal

of History & Folklore
Subscribers Edition Stories & Photos
The most in-depth, comprehensive site about the Skagit.

Covers from British Columbia to Puget sound. Counties covered: Skagit, Whatcom, Island, San Juan. An evolving history dedicated to the principle of committing random acts of historical kindness
Noel V. Bourasaw, editor (bullet) 810 Central Ave., Sedro-Woolley, Washington, 98284
Home of the Tarheel Stomp (bullet) Mortimer Cook slept here & named the town Bug

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Puget Sound Mail

January-June 1890 issues
(James Power)
James Power

      Until 1982, the Puget Sound Mail was the oldest continuously published newspaper in Washington. Looking back, its launch was not fortuitous because it occurred on June 16 or July 5, 1873 — depending on the source, just a few months before a major stock market crash and its location was the town of Whatcom, which was just a shadow of what it was 15 years before when it was the kicking-off point for 10,000 miners on their way to the Fraser river gold rush in British Columbia.
      James Power, the publisher, soon proved to be up to the task. A young printer employed by the government printing office at Washington DC, got western fever, and trekked by a combination of steamers to Whatcom, which was at the time one of the villages mentioned as the possible terminus of the Northern Pacific Railroad. The original Bellingham Bay Mail was also the first newspaper north of Seattle in Washington territory but its growth was stunted when NP announced on July 14 that year that Commencement Bay, later named Tacoma, was chosen as the terminus. Power's politics were solidly Republican, so much so that he and two of his brothers back in Ohio enlisted for the Union Army in the Civil War while his father enlisted with the Confederates in Tennessee. Power stuck it out on Bellingham Bay until September 1879. By then, the town was lagging far behind the bustling little village of LaConner on the Swinomish slough in the south half of Skagit county.
      From the time that he published his first issue down south on Sept. 13, 1879, Power worked hard towards the formation of Skagit county in return for the inducements proffered by farmers and businessmen on the Skagit delta. The change in name to the Puget Sound Mail reflected his plan to market the newspaper up and down the sound and to try to cover the entire area. His attention became divided with the election of November 1882, when James Power was elected to the Territory Council (upper house or Senate), representing Whatcom, Snohomish and Island counties, and Orrin Kincaid of Mount Vernon was elected as representative, both by strong Republican majorities. The two men were placed on the standing committees on county matters and Power soon introduced a bill for the division of Whatcom county at the Chuckanut mountain range between townships 36 and 37.
      After considerable jousting, Skagit county was created in 1883 and Power became a very powerful politician. In April 1884, Power chose politics over printing and leased the Mail to partners Walsh and Riggins for $500, including the job shop. The partners failed in the business within a year and ownership passed to future Washington governor Henry McBride and R.O. Welts, future county superintendent of schools. Finally, in February 1887, Fred Leroy Carter took over and stayed at the helm until 1940.
      In 1890, the Mail published on Thursdays. At that time, La Conner was how Carter spelled the town's name — with a space. Then, as now, different media spelled the name with or without the space. We spell it LaConner for consistency when people search our site for references to the town. Although you can find microfilm of most of the volumes at the Allen Library of the University of Washington and the Washington State Library in Olympia, many of the issues are either burned at the edges because of a fire at the plant in the 1940s, or have water damage from the time that the last publisher, Bonnie McDade stored them at her home. But Mrs. McDade is to be thanked for preserving what she could of this newspaper's proud history. You can find our corrections and supplement notes within brackets, [ ].

January 1890 issue, undated, partially burned
LaConner and west county


February 1890 issue, undated, partially burned
LaConner and west county


March 17, 1890 issue, partially burned
LaConner and west county

(Cokedale mine)
Cokedale mine and shaft in the 1890s during peak production of coking coal


April 1890 issue, undated, partially burned
LaConner and west county

May 1890 issue, undated, partially burned
LaConner and west county


June 26, 1890, undated, partially burned


West county

June 28, 1890 issue, undated, partially burned
LaConner and west county

      See the Old Newspaper Logs section for transcripts of many old newspapers from all over the area.

Story posted on July 1, 2004
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