The Newspaper Business

Newspapers in Del Norte County date back to 1854, and top honors go to the Crescent City Herald for being the first to publish in northwestern California. The Herald was hot off the press in June of that year.

The Herald’s initial run beat the Humboldt Times off the press by a few months. Its run lasted only until 1861, when the Herald’s owners discontinued publishing here due to lack of interest, and moved their operation to Jacksonville, Ore.

The county was without a paper until 1872, according to many historical sources. But Frances McBeth identifies a publication called the Del Norte Investigator, which existed in 1868 and was connected with the Lyceum.

The next publication to spring up was the Crescent City Courier, which published from September 1872 until March 1875 and again from November 1879 to February 1881, when the Del Norte Record purchased it to augment its publication that had begun in 1879. Northwestern California Newspaper Project’s Website quotes Ralph Hughes, who worked for Crescent City News in 1908 at the age of 14.

The paper’s reading room, he remembered, served as a library that was “Mecca for a lot of people who wanted to know what was going on in the world.”

Crescent City News started about 1892, merged with the Del Norte Record, then the Coast Times in 1910-1912 and the Del Norte Argus in 1912 to form the Del Norte Triplicate. A second iteration of the Crescent City Courier began publishing at about the same time, lasting until 1930.

It competed with the Crescent City News and also the Crescent City American, which began in 1926 and became the Crescent City Sunday American in its last year of publication. In 1969, Crescent City Sunday American merged with the Triplicate.

Renamed The Daily Triplicate, Del Norte County’s newspaper is one of the longest running newspapers in Northwest California.

A few short-lived newspapers within the county are the Smith River Herald, which published in 1925, Klamath Chinook in 1932, Gasquet Gazette, published by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1935, and Pelican Bay News in 1945. One of the former owners of Crescent City News started life in Del Norte County as an invalid with $3 in his pockets, but went into local history as one of the State of Jefferson movement organizers.

Judge John L. Childs, an immigrant of Irish parents, became self-supporting at the young age of 14. He began toiling on a New York farm, later eking out a living as a teacher.

Childs went on to graduate from Starkey Seminary and became principal of Greenville Academy in New York. His life there changed when he developed pneumonia and was advised to seek a climate change.

Childs found a job tutoring in San Diego, but moved to Gold Beach, Ore., to teach school. From there he came to Crescent City to take his teacher’s exam.

He apparently liked Del Norte County so well that he decided to make it his home.

After teaching for a number of years, Childs bought the Crescent City News. His political life began in 1892 when he was elected county clerk.

Three years later on Christmas Eve, he was admitted to the Bar. He opened his law office in April 1897 and was elected district attorney that fall.

He held the position until 1903 when he became a superior judge, a post in which he served until 1920.

Childs played an important part in the development of Del Norte County and in securing recognition from other sections of the country. Most notably was his election as governor of the then proposed 49th state – Jefferson.

Between Nov. 19 and Dec. 10, 1941, San Francisco’s newspapers, the Eureka’s Humboldt Times and Crescent City’s reporters and those representing The Oregonian in Portland covered the proposed state’s struggles to correct perceived wrongs in northern California and southern Oregon. The story was also covered by the New York Times on Dec. 5, 1941.

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