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Puget Sound herald. [volume] : (Steilacoom, W.T. [Wash.]) 1858-1864
Place of publication:
Steilacoom, W.T. [Wash.]
Geographic coverage:
  • Steilacoom, Pierce, Washington  |  View more titles from this: City County, State
Dates of publication:
  • Ceased in 1864?
  • Vol. 1, no. 1 (March 12, 1858)-
  • English
  • Steilacoom (Wash.)--Newspapers.
  • Washington (State)--Steilacoom.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01230620
  • "An independent family journal devoted to the interests of Washington Territory."
  • Archived issues are available in digital format from the Library of Congress Chronicling America online collection.
  • Publication suspended: March 2, 1860-May 3, 1860.
  • Vol. VI, no. 39 (November 7, 1864).
sn 88085145
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Puget Sound herald. [volume] March 12, 1858 , Image 1


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Puget Sound herald

From the mid to late 1850s, Steilacoom rivaled Olympia as the principal business center on the Puget Sound. By 1857, two partisan newspapers, one Whig and one Republican, had risen and fallen in Steilacoom, leaving the Olympia Pioneer and Democrat as the only newspaper published in Washington Territory. With his infant town in need of a means to promote itself, Steilacoom founder Lafayette Balch met experienced printer Charles Prosch in San Francisco in the winter of 1857-1858. Prosch had started his newspaper career in 1836 with an apprenticeship at the New York Daily Express. In 1853, he travelled to California to work at the San Francisco Daily Alta California. Balch promised Prosch that he would be provided for in Steilacoom whether or not the newspaper was a success. Prosch accepted the offer and sailed with his family for Steilacoom in February 1858.

Steilacoom resident and printer George W. Lee was made partner with Prosch, and the press previously purchased by Balch for one of the failed papers was put back into use. The first issue of the Puget Sound Herald appeared on March 12, 1858. The partnership was short lived. In the May 7 edition, Prosch announced Lee's departure from the paper and warned against trusting Lee on behalf of the Herald. A Whig in his personal life, Prosch generally kept the paper independent, though it supported the Republicans during the Civil War. An early break for the Herald came when Prosch obtained the first news of the discovery of gold on the Fraser River. Prosch quickly printed an extra edition and sent copies to California, where they sold for $1 each. The subsequent edition sold for $5 a copy in San Francisco. This news, along with the delivery to San Francisco of a consignment of gold ore to be refined by Wells Fargo San Francisco, precipitated a gold rush to the Fraser River, which in turn helped boom towns along the Puget Sound. As one of the best developed ports on the Sound, Steilacoom experienced skyrocketing land prices. Balch was so pleased that he gave Prosch two lots as a reward for breaking the news. He ordered his partner not to sell any other lots, but before Balch could return to take advantage of potential buyers, they moved on to other towns. Prosch attributed Steilacoom's failure to thrive to Balch's miscalculation.

By 1864, Steilacoom had not grown into the prosperous town Balch and Prosch had hoped. When the Puget Sound Herald was first published, the Pioneer and Democrat was the only competition in the territory, and Prosch had been able to count on subscriptions and advertising from other towns along the Sound. As these towns grew, they established their own newspapers, and Prosch lost their financial support. The last known issue of the Puget Sound Herald was published on November 7, 1864. Alfred Benson Pettygrove later bought the plant and used it to start Port Townsend's The Weekly Argus. After closing the Herald, Prosch managed a general store and then ran an abandoned lumber camp, before moving to Olympia and purchasing Olympia's The Pacific Tribune in 1868.

Provided by: Washington State Library; Olympia, WA