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The Mason County journal. [volume] : (Shelton, W.T.) 1886-1927
Place of publication:
Shelton, W.T.
Geographic coverage:
  • Shelton, Mason, Washington  |  View more titles from this: City County, State
Journal Pub. Co.
Dates of publication:
  • Vol. 1, no. 1 (Dec. 31, 1886)-v. 41, no. 13 (Mar. 4, 1927).
  • English
  • Shelton (Wash.)--Newspapers.
  • Washington (State)--Shelton.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01223086
  • Archived issues are available in digital format from the Library of Congress Chronicling America online collection.
sn 88085081
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The Mason County journal. [volume] May 17, 1889 , Image 1


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Mason County Journal

Grant Colfax Angle, founder and longtime editor of the Mason County Journal, began that newspaper in Shelton, Washington, after learning his trade under Clarence Bagley of the Daily Courier in nearby Olympia. The capital city already had three publications competing with one another, so Angle moved to Mason County, which lacked a newspaper. Legend has it that Angle arrived in Shelton, the county seat, with a set of type in his hat and an investment of $150. When the Mason County Journal debuted on December 31, 1886, Angle was only 18, making him the youngest newspaper editor in Washington State's history.

The first year of the Journal was fraught with complications. Shelton's physical isolation and humble conditions made it difficult to secure supplies, including the necessary machinery. Since the county lacked a letterpress, Angle was obliged to send his proofs back to Olympia for printing, a 20-mile steamer trip away. During a particularly rough patch in January 1887, the southern inlets of Puget Sound froze. The weather stranded Angle in Olympia, resulting in a two-day trip on horseback to deliver the papers to the Shelton post office. Despite his efforts, heavy snow shut down operations in Mason County, cutting the newspaper off from its subscribers for weeks.

Once past the initial difficulties, starting a paper in Mason County proved fruitful: circulation rose to more than 300 subscribers within the Journal's first year, a number that steadily increased. The paper was released on Fridays, circulating in Shelton and throughout the county. Annual subscriptions initially cost $2, but Angle was known to accept fresh eggs, butter, and even a loaf of bread as payment. After major losses in the first year, the Journal eventually became financially secure, allowing Angle to buy his own "Washington Best" hand press. By 1893 he had dropped the subscription price to $1.50, which remained constant for more than 25 years until the economics of World War I brought the price up to $2 in 1919. The size of the paper fluctuated, beginning with four pages per issue but soon increasing to eight pages in 1889. That format lasted for 15 years until the issues went back to the original four-page length in 1904.

Although the Journal began as an independent publication, issues preceding the election of 1894 enthusiastically promoted Republican candidates and disparaged the Democratic Party, which the paper blamed for the economic dilemmas caused by the Panic of 1893. The November 24, 1893 issue announced its consolidation with the weekly The Shelton Sentinel and formalized its Republican stance in 1894.

Angle produced special editions of the Journal that focused on the county's history and its inhabitants. He frequently gathered and printed stories from Mason County residents, especially the area's pioneers. These efforts made him a pivotal figure in preserving the county's history. In 1912, he published the Mason County Cook Book based on recipes locals sent in to the newspaper. The publication proved so popular that he produced a second edition with new recipes in 1922. Another notable publication included a 44-page booklet dedicated to the Pan-American Exposition held in Buffalo, New York, in 1901.

The Mason County Journal changed its name to the Shelton-Mason County Journal on March 8, 1927, reflecting its focus on the growing city. Angle remained editor of the paper until he sold it in 1937. His son, Eber Angle, bought the paper back, and Angle senior agreed to edit it again until the Journal was sold out of the family in 1945, concluding Grant Colfax Angle's nearly 60-year newspaper career before he passed away in 1951.

Provided by: Washington State Library; Olympia, WA