Springfield, Springfield News and Lane County News

The Springfield news 
[LCCN: sn97071001], [LCCN: sn97071003]
Springfield, Lane County, Oregon
1903-1914, 1916-present

In 1848, the first Anglo settlers arrived in what is now the City of Springfield, located along the Willamette River in central Oregon, and the city was incorporated in 1885. Farming, logging, and flour and saw mills provided sustenance for early settlers, and in 1891, a railroad line was built through the city, expanding the economic and transportation opportunities of the area.

In 1896, John Kelly founded the Springfield Nonpareil [LCCN: unknown] during a lull in local newspaper journalism, and in 1898 Kelly sold the paper to J.F. Woods, who changed the title to The Springfield News [LCCN: sn97071001] in 1903. In 1909, Woods sold the News to Lewis M. Beebe, who continued to publish the paper for the next five years. The News was consolidated with the Lane County News [LCCN: sn97071002], a prohibition paper, in 1914, and the Lane County Publishing Association took over the paper under the editorship of University of Oregon graduate and former Eugene newspaperman William A. Dill. The Lane County News was issued twice weekly on Mondays and Thursdays for just $1.50 per year. Dill later went on to work for the Portland Morning Oregonian [LCCN: sn83025138].

The News followed standard journalism of the time, providing condensed news reports for busy readers, updates on tax laws, international relations, legal and land notices, Oregon state news, and social updates for the people of Springfield. Short stories, political cartoons and jokes could be found amongst reports on lumbering, fruit and farming industries, new roads and railroads, irrigation projects, and the Springfield flour mill. Local advertisers included the Springfield Garage, the Bell Theater, the First National Bank of Springfield, the Springfield Feed Company, and the J.W. Hubbard Shoe Shop for loggers and millmen.

In 1916, Walter R. Dimm, a graduate from the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism, began publishing under The Springfield News [LCCN: sn97071003] title once again with help from his father, printer Jon C. Dimm. From 1919 to 1924, the News was published once a week on Fridays and publishers included Tage & Cagley, Lynn W. Miller, Robert A. Brodie, S.H. Tyler and S.M. Freeland, followed by Freeland and T.V. Henderson. The August 29, 1919 issue of the News contained a message from Tage and Cagley, in response to threats and criticism from an un-named local “element,” explaining that

“So long as the News is under the present ownership, we will print all the news that is fit to print, and we will criticize the public actions and utterances of anyone who we believe deserves it, without fear or favor, regardless of whatever ‘side’ he or she belongs to…What we want in Springfield and what the News will endeavor to cultivate in the minds of ALL her citizens is teamwork. Teamwork is to a town what good health is to an individual…Let us lay the foundation of a new, a greater, a better Springfield – better for ourselves to live in and better for those who will follow us.”

Two issues later, the paper came under new ownership, advocating for Republican politics and vowing “to boost for every public and private enterprise or undertaking which tends toward advancement of Springfield and surrounding country.”

In 1924, H. Elmer Maxey, reporter for the Eugene Daily Guard [LCCN: sn96088107], took over and continued to publish the News into the 1930s. Maxey enlarged the paper from five to six columns and lowered the subscription price from $2.00 to $1.25. Under Maxey’s leadership the News promoted the Willamette Valley irrigation and navigation project, of which Maxey was the president.

Prepared with reference to:

City of Springfield. “Early History of Springfield.” Springfield, Oregon: Proud History, Bright Future. Accessed August 10, 2011.  http://www.ci.springfield.or.us/history.htm

Turnbull, George S. History of Oregon Newspapers. Portland, Oregon: Binfords & Mort, 1939.

– Written by Sheila Rabun

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