Coulee City Dispatch

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Coulee City Dispatch
Dates of publication
Available online
26 May 1916 - 31 December 1942 (488 issues)
Place of publication
Coulee City, Wash.
Usage rights
No Copyright
Coulee City (Wash.) - Newspapers.
Washington (State) - Coulee City.

The first western settler to farm cattle in the ancient Columbia River valley of Washington Territory was Philip McEntee in 1881. He also supplied miners traveling to British Columbia, and his lands became known as McEntee's Crossing. Other pioneers followed, leading to the establishment of a general store, saloon, and post office by 1888. By 1892, the population had grown to three hundred. The settlers voted to incorporate their town as Coulee City in 1907, naming it after the ancient riverbed known as Grand Coulee.

Before the Coulee City Dispatch formed, two other newspapers, the Coulee City Clipper and The Coulee City News, were published in Coulee City as Republican papers, the Clipper in 1908 and the News in 1890. By 1910, the Clipper had ceased operations, and just a year later the Coulee City Dispatch succeeded both as a Friday weekly and as the official paper of Grant County under editor and publisher Charles A. Smith. Smith had been a publisher in Hibbing, Minnesota before moving his family to Coulee City, where he continued the Republican-focused Dispatch until 1914.

Early articles reported on mining news as well information on labor activities and union pensions. Horace Boies Sovereign owned the Dispatch from 1915 to 1916 continuing to publish news of world events, regional activities, mining notes and an occasional fictional series. Sovereign left Coulee City to begin his own mining corporation and later became a newspaper printer on Vashon Island, closer to Seattle.

From 1916 to 1918, the paper was published with a more Democratic leaning through a partnership between Donald D. Ray, editor, and Howard Lemuel Stapleton, manager. Ray had worked as a newspaper printer in Everett from 1901 to 1909, and in Seattle in 1910, prior to his work at the Dispatch. By 1920, Ray and Stapleton returned to Seattle, where they continued working in the newspaper industry.

The paper was briefly independent when Philip Harris acquired it and began as editor in 1919. It continued as such when Herbert N. Lynn purchased it only a year later and increased the circulation to 480 subscriptions in the small-town region by 1922. The Dispatch returned to its Republican roots in 1923 when ownership transferred to Oliver Ulysus Hawkins, who edited it with his wife, Leiuvenia, as assistant editor and Henry Rufus Kinnaman as compositor. Hawkins brought his newspaper experience from editing the Hillyard News in Spokane County in 1906 and 1907. When he moved to the town of Connell with his family, Hawkins passed the Dispatch back to Lynn who had returned from North Dakota to run the paper for a short time in 1925. Lynn spoke about himself in the April 03, 1925 issue when he wrote to readers: "His shortcomings are so well known to the people of Coulee and country around that an introduction is entirely unnecessary, except the mere announcement of the fact, and the further statement that while this arrangement is not expected to be anything but temporary, yet he may 'stick around' for quite a spell if you will be patient with him."

Glenn Duane Arnold took a turn at publishing the Dispatch in 1927 and ran the paper for nearly a decade. Born in Mazeppa, Minnesota, he had been an editor and postmaster in the small, Canadian border town of Calvin, ND during WWI. Under Arnold's watch, reporting coverage focused on America's new love of automobiles, essential road construction and, with a front row seat, on the enterprising development of the Grand Coulee Dam and resulting rapid growth of the area and demand for housing. The largest hydropower facility at that time in the United States, the $160 million dam still spans the Columbia River at the Grand Coulee riverbed, generating hydropower and serving as a source of irrigation for the region.

Enterprising newlyweds Irving Warner "Bob" Hilson and his wife, Francis May, had been married less than a year when they purchased the Dispatch and began publishing in May 1936. They continued coverage of local topics through 1942. The Hilsons owned two other newspapers following their purchase of the Dispatch, the Republic News-Miner purchased a year later and the Grand Coulee's The Star in 1943.