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In 1907, a group of Colville Democrats formed a corporation to produce a new weekly paper. They financed the purchase of modern printing equipment and hired James Corneal Harrigan, a 29-year-old newspaperman, to serve as editor. Harrigan had learned his trade in the mining towns of Montana and had worked at such prestigious papers as the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and Spokane’s Spokesman Review. But enchanted by Colville, Harrigan purchased the Examiner in 1909 and continued editing it for the next forty years.
The early development of Stevens County, the state of Washington and the activities of their residents are well covered by the Colville Examiner. Kettle Falls, Marcus, Summit Valley, Greenwood, South Basin, Meyers Falls, and other small communities contributed columns regularly. The area is noteworthy for its silver mining, timber, and agricultural industries. News, history, and legends of the nearby Spokane and Colville Indian tribes were included. Reports on surveying activities on the Columbia River, anticipating the construction of the Grand Coulee Dam, appeared occasionally, as did stories on bootlegging and liquor smuggling, common practices due to the community's proximity to the Canadian border. Harrigan was a witty and self-effacing writer who commented upon local, state, and national politics from the Democratic Party perspective. He was active in many service organizations and served as president of Inland Empire Press Association.
The introduction of a third newspaper into the small town of Colville resulted in fierce competition for government printing contracts and subscription income. The early editorials of the Colville Examiner and its rivals (the Statesman-Index and the Stevens County Reveille), document a lively struggle for survival. The Reveille soon went out of business and the Statesman-Index was bought and sold several times. In 1948, the Examiner was sold to Charles Graham and merged with its old competitor to form the Statesman-Examiner.
The Stevens County Historical Society has indexed the Colville Examiner paper for births, deaths, and legal notices. The Society also holds an obituary index for all local papers. The University of Washington Libraries has a subject index available on microfilm for the Colville Examiner covering 1908-20 and completed in 1940 as part of the Works Project Administration.
A detailed history of Colville newspapers, written by Harrigan, was printed in the Statesman-Examiner on October 21, 1960.
Provided by: Washington State Library; Olympia, WA