Now, as then, news close to home reigns | Editor’s Notebook

I was doing some research in the Port Orchard Independent office on June 5, going through the earliest bound editions we have in our possession, and two questions came to mind.

First — and I am sorry about this, Port Orchard — I sipped my coffee and I had to ask myself, “Did we make this coffee using water from a swimming pool?” (Hint: I’m referring to the smell and taste of chlorine.)

Second, The Independent was founded in 1891 and our earliest bound editions were reportedly lost in a fire. So, I wondered: What was happening here around this time in Port Orchard’s adolescence? I turned to the Library of Congress’ “Chronicling America | Historic American Newspapers” database to see what was happening in Junes past.


From The Seattle Republican, June 17, 1898: “With a sudden leap and bound, the Sidney Independent changes to the Port Orchard Independent. Even the county seat ceases to have attractions for the county official paper.”

Zing. (Proudly, we are still located in the county seat. And proudly, we are still the county’s official newspaper.)

From The Seattle Republican, June 1, 1900, an apparent scolding over an election-related editorial in the Port Orchard Independent. “Why in the deuce did not the Port Orchard Independent tell us who the strong man in King county is while it was reading King County Republicans a lecture? King county wants to do the thing you advocate, put forward her strongest candidate, but when you keep that secret of the strongest candidate to yourself, how in thunder can she do so? Do not be selfish, but let us hear the name of the man you have in your editorial knot.”

In response, the Independent did so, which The Seattle Republican reprinted on June 22, 1900: “Senator Frink seems to have decidedly the best of it in King county in the race for the nomination for governor.”

(Frink, a state senator from Seattle, won the Republican nomination but lost the 1900 general election to incumbent John Rankin Rogers.)

Also on June 22, 1900, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer shared this news item from the Independent: “A fact not well known is that on Wednesday last there was fired from the battleship Iowa in Port Orchard the first admiral’s salute ever given on Puget sound.” The headline? “But many will follow.”

In the same edition, the P-I republished this item from the Independent, under the headline “All will be welcome”: “We have received from the executive committee an invitation to be present at the Fourth of July celebration to be held in Seattle. Elaborate preparations are being made for a grand time the two days of the celebration — July 3 and 4. No doubt a great many from this county will go over.”

(Fast forward to the next century: Elaborate preparations are made here for a grand time celebrating our nation’s independence. And there is no doubt a great many from Seattle now come here for the festivities.)

In the Minneapolis Journal, June 8, 1901, it was reported that W.L. Thompson of the Port Orchard Independent was among 60 Washington, Oregon and Idaho journalists to visit Minneapolis — arriving on the Northern Pacific train — for a national press association convention. The headline stated, “Entertained By a Commercial Club Committee and Sent On Their Way Rejoicing.”

(Not a lot of details given on that. Apparently, even in 1901, what happened in Minneapolis stayed in Minneapolis.)

On June 27, 1901, the San Juan Islander in Friday Harbor reported that lawyer/journalist H.L. Wilhelm of Seattle would help that newspaper prepare “a handsome illustrated supplement devoted exclusively to an exhaustive showing of the resources, industries, business interests, social life, home advantages, scenic attractions, etc. of San Juan county.” The Islander noted that Wilhelm had “completed this spring a fine business review of Kitsap county, published as a supplement to the Port Orchard Independent …”

The Little Falls (Minnesota) Herald, on June 23, 1905, republished on its front page this news item from the Port Orchard Independent: “Maley Rose and daughter, of Fort Ripley, Minn,. accompanied by Mr. Rose’s sister-in-law of Seattle, were the guests of Mr. and Mrs. S.S. Finney on Wednesday, and went to the head of the bay to visit Mr. and Mrs. John Gorst. These people were old neighbors in Minnesota. Mr. Rose is looking for a location and will also take in the Lewis and Clark exposition at Portland.”

Then, as now, news close to home reigns.

Next, we’ll visit July in early Port Orchard.

— Richard Walker is managing editor of Kitsap News Group and Contact him at