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Fresno Morning Republican Newspaper 1919
Here’s a 1919 Fresno Morning Republican newspaper I’ve had in my collection for several years.
It’s amazing these 90-year old pieces of newsprint are still in tact. Though yellowed with age, it's still readable and big. It was a different size, 22 inches tall, same as today’s Bee but much wider at 16 inches as opposed to only 11 inches in today’s paper. Every story was completed on the page it started and not continued on another page. Very little photography and most of it from far away like world leaders in Europe and national movie stars. A couple of local photos were of two boxers who were going to fight at the American Legion Hall. Johnnie Hayes of Auberry was to fight Roy Fain of Fresno for the San Joaquin Valley Bantamweight (118 pounds) Championship.
The Gottschalks ad was interesting with summer dresses from $4 each and 'dainty undermuslins' at $1.75.
Another difference was the relative lack of coverage of local stories on the front page. I had to dig into the middle of the 22 page paper to find local stories. Although, it is ironic that there was one local story on the front page about Fresno Mayor, W.F. Toomey announcing an anonymous donation of $40k to buy food to feed the hungry. It wasn’t going to be given away, but sold at cost at a special sale in the Municipal Auditorium. Some things never change. There’s always poor folks going hungry.
90 years ago there were 45,000 people here, now over half a million.
The Fresno Morning Republican newspaper was founded in 1876 by Dr. Chester Rowell the elder, who’s statue rests on the southwest corner of Fresno’s Courthouse Park and was mayor of Fresno from 1909-1912, the year he died. Perhaps, the ghost of Dr. Rowell walks the lanes of courthouse park late at night? The paper continued on, changing hands several times until it’s demise in 1932.
There were two Chester Rowells. The younger was Chester Harvey Rowell, nephew of the elder Rowell and was brought in to edit and manage the Fresno Morning Republican in 1898 and continued in that position till 1920. So, by the time of this 1919 volume he had been here for over 20 years and was coming to the end of his tenure as editor.
From his editorials, Chester Harvey seemed quite the liberal, favoring nationalization of the railroads and sympathetic to unions. He spoke in a language and tone that, to me was very intellectual but sounded like a public speech and felt stiff and made me wonder if conversation was also stiff in that time.
Chester H. Rowell was also a lecturer in journalism at UC, Berkeley (1911) and in political science at Stanford (1927-1934). He was also editor of the San Francisco Chronicle from 1932 to 1939. He was a member of the University of California Board of Regents from 1914 until shortly before his death in 1948.
Here is an excerpt from the History of the Fresno Republican that explains the two Chester Rowells - fresnorepublican.com:
"Dr. Rowell's brother was a congressman in Washington whose son was Dr. Rowell's namesake. The younger Chester H. Rowell served as a Committee Clerk in Congress for his father after graduating the University of Michigan. He then took two years of post graduate studies at the University of Berlin before teaching college Latin, German, and French, in Baxter, Kansas.
On October 12, 1885, the Fresno City Township was incorporated. In 1895 young Rowell was hired by C. L. McLane, Fresno City School Superintendent for a teaching position at the 115 student, Fresno High School. Young Rowell was among its first five teachers.
Three years later, the younger Chester Rowell accepted the job as Editor of the Republican from his Uncle Chester Rowell. The name on the masthead was soon modified as the Fresno Morning Republican . The younger Rowell soon became well-known throughout the Nation as a crusading young journalist-editor attempting to cleanup Fresno's image of political graft and crime. He went after a change in the General Law for Cities of the Fifth Class.
Fresno operated without a Mayor under that law. Town government had been weak and run by five trustees. The Fresno Morning Republican campaigned for election of literate community leaders with commitment to limited government, clean streets and a responsible business community."