100 years of Progress
The one constant in The Clearwater Progress’ 100- plus year history is change.
On Thanksgiving Day 2005, The Clearwater Progress celebrated its centennial anniversary. It seemed fitting to reach such a milestone on a nationally observed day of giving thanks.
Of course the paper’s founder, Charles Hofstetter had no idea he was starting the paper on Thanksgiving because the holiday was not ratified by Congress until 1941.
But it turned out fitting nonetheless.
Just as the early pioneers opted to purchase ground for a more stable and secure town site in 1905, the fourth town site to date, so too did Hofstetter feel the time was ripe to record and share Kamiah Valley’s news.
According to historical record, Hofstetter actually printed a few issues in Stites prior to Nov. 24, 1905, but moved to Kamiah because of its more central location in the valley.
The name Progress may well have been an indicator of what Hofstetter felt was happening in the community around him. Frame houses were going up, businesses starting and commerce seemed to be on the upswing in what was labeled the Lilly of the Valley, a reference from the first Progress.
The potential seemed endless.
Rich with beauty and seemingly endless natural resources, Kamiah was the epitome of progress, or what progress could be.
Hofstetter must have observed and felt this and so gave the paper its unique name, The Kamiah Progress.
Have paper will travel
The first decade of the Progress’ life was likely its most tumultuous. It jumped from place to place, usually switching homes when it switched hands, which happened aplenty as its owners often had numerous other business interests that competed for attention. And there was always the potential gold mine venture on the horizon.
The first location of The Kamiah Progress was at the McCallie building, which was located on the corner of where the Legion Hall now resides.
The following year the printing plant was moved into the front of the newly completed IOOF Hall, which was torn down to make way for the city’s Emergency Service Building.
In 1907 the Progress was on the move again as it relocated to the Benjestorf building. Later in the year, Hofstetter purchased two lots opposite Pomeroy’s Hardware and built a 20×40 office to house the paper.
On Jan. 3, 1908 W.A. Dissmore took over as publisher and moved the paper back to the IOOF Hall, this time in its upper room.
Dissmore sold the paper to J.M. Shaw in 1909, who moved the paper to the corner of 6th and Main. Shaw was a notary public and ran Corbetts Ferry before operating the paper. In 1910 he sold it back to Dissmore who shuffled the paper to where Horseshoe Bar was located.
A fire burned the building and the paper was subsequently moved to C.J. Johnson’s funeral parlor, which gave real life to the meaning of the word deadline.
Shaw worked as editor until taking the publisher’s position of the Orofino Tribune. In 1911 the paper was published by a husband and wife team of Dissmore and Dissmore.
As so often was the case at the time, publishers wrote lengthy farewells or hellos announcing their departure or arrival. The words were like poetic mission statements, ringing with lofty values espoused by men of integrity. It spoke of an era where mutual respect and reputation were of great value.
It was also a time when political and government boundaries were shifting into finality. In 1911 the portion of Nezperce County we know as Lewis was decreed with the town of Nezperce being named county seat. It was a hotbed issue many Kamiah citizens vowed to alter in two years, changing the seat to Kamiah as well as the county name. But the cause grew dim and vanished into history.
In 1912 the paper changed hands again, this time to a partnership between Jesse Hurley and J.M. Shaw. They reoccupied the building at 6th and Main. Diversifying their interests, the office also handled insurance, real estate and pianos.
Playing Mozart could well have been cure for writer’s block.
By 1914 Shaw’s partner had left. He hired Paul B. Blake as editor. As was a common practice in that day, after Blake cut his teeth with editing the paper he opted to buy it. With ink in his veins, Shaw invested in the Kooskia Mountaineer, a few miles upriver.
Blake then sold a half interest in the paper to E.L. Grinnell in 1915. Together they installed a cylinder press.
Grinnell then left for Michigan and Blake continued on until 1916 when he sold to C.H. Martin, who continued publishing the paper until health reasons pressed him to sell to the dean of country newspapers, Ralph Prescott in 1918.
The dean of country newspapers
Known as the dean of country papers from Grangeville to Spokane, Prescott operated the paper at a building which became the Ringen Plumbing shop.
Prescott also published the Stites Enterprise and leased the Kooskia Mountaineer.
He took only three vacations in the near quarter century of work, and was absent during only 10 printings out of 2,352 issues.
“A period of close to a quarter century is a long time to remain at the helm of a country newspaper, and few editors have that experience,” he eflected.
Prescott closed the doors of The Kamiah Progress with the issue of June 24, 1942. Subscribers and Kamiah news were transferred in par to the Nezperce Herald.
He closed the paper due to the World War II conflict, which emptied the town of qualified help and supplies. Only four men were left in business at Kamiah who were present when Prescott arrived: Dr. J.F. Bridwell, Dr. C.H. Bryan, Wade Wilson, and Jack Mills.
In his final issue, Prescott summed up in third person that “All his represents a lot of work, but there has been much pleasure mixed in, for there is a fascination about newspaper making and printing in general which gives to one who loves the profession an unusual amount of job, which offsets a vast amount of grief which is bound to go along with it.”
“We have tried at all times to hold close to the motto carried with the paper’s heading “Always Working for Kamiah’s Progress” and believe we have hit the mark pretty much of the time. Anyway we’ve surely published a lot of good things about this wonderful valley, and will continue to spread the word of its beauty and resources without the help of printer’s ink.”
Prescott retired to Florida.
Kamiah had no local newspaper until 1953.
Progress returns with new name
Bruce Wilkinson revived the Progress in December 1953 after purchasing the building on the lower end of Main Street next to Johnston’s store.
But he made a noticeable change. The Kamiah Progress became The Clearwater Progress to reflect a larger readership. With Kooskia and Stites lacking newspapers, the Progress welcomed readers and news from those towns into the fold.
He sold the newspaper and printing plant to Thomas Campbell of Lewiston in 1958. Two years later Larry McIntosh became publisher. He sold the paper to Larry and Karon Schlieper in 1963.
In July of 1966 the Schliepers moved the paper to a modern block office they built at the corner of 4th and Hill streets. They hired Cheeta Brown as editor in 1967. The Schliepers held the second longest tenure of the Progress at 20 years and offered a world of improvements.
Larry said he was the first to incorporate computers into the business, which marked the beginning of the end of linotype and compugraphic machines.
They sold the paper to John and Cloan McNall in 1983.
Scott and Cheryl Anderson become publishers in 1986, with Margaret Scott becoming contributing news editor that same year.
The paper was then sold to Barney and Wilma Mowrey. Their editor was Nona Perry.
Raora Davidson worked as news editor and reporter beginning in 1987. Leslie Bucknell took her place in 1992 and a year later Bill Glenn was hired for the job.
Bill and Shirley Glenn purchased the paper from Mowrey in 1993 and operated it until 2001. In 1998 they moved the office from its 4th Street location to its present site at 417 Main Street. The 4th Street location was one of the longest homes of the paper in its history.
In fact, despite numerous attempts to update phone book records, some books persist in maintaining the old address.
John and Susan Bennett bought the paper on July 1, 2001 at which time Ben Jorgensen was promoted to editor.
“A newspaper is something more than just a means of making a livelihood or a way to spread news, or advertise goods for sale. A newspaper is an instrument for the good of the community, and of mankind in general. It is or should be a means of raising the moral standards of our citizenry and it should never stand back for anything that threatens those standards, Yes, a newspaper is all of these and more; and it is our fervent hope that the publishers of the new Clearwater Progress will always do just that.” ~Ira Chamberlain