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Publication Details

The Ontario Argus.

More information about this newspaper title may be available on the source website.

Source: Chronicling America [US Library of Congress]

Country: United States

State: Oregon

City: Ontario, Or.

Issues of this title available in Elephind: 562

Items (articles and/or pages) from this title available in Elephind: 4,226

Earliest Date: 11 June 1909

Latest Date: 28 December 1922


Ontario Argus

Journalism in eastern Oregon’s Malheur County dates back to 1887. Advocacy for various political parties and causes was the impetus for the founding of most of the early papers in this region. One of these--the Vale District Silver Advocate--was the direct precursor to the Ontario Argus. Commencing publication on January 6, 1897, the Advocate was dedicated to advancing the "free silver" monetary movement championed by William Jennings Bryan. Within a few years, the paper had been relocated to Ontario and evolved into a more general Democratic Party organ. The Advocate was purchased in November 1900 by Don Carlos Boyd, who changed its title to the Ontario Argus and switched its political affiliation to Republican. Throughout its history, the paper was run as a weekly, with the exception of a period in 1904 when the daily format was briefly adopted. From its inception, the Argus was a tireless cheerleader for the businessmen of Malheur County. The four-page publication encouraged outsiders to move to Ontario and devoted considerable column space to the issue of water rights.

Don Carlos Boyd sold the Argus to William Plughoff in 1908. With Plughoff as editor, the newspaper touted its prestige, merit, and circulation. “Watch us grow,” it said at a time when Ontario could boast 1,600 people, 12 schoolteachers, and three million pounds of annual wool shipments. But grow the town did, and the newspaper grew along with it. By 1913, the Argus had expanded to eight pages and started running editorial cartoons on the front page, above the fold. The paper focused on the activities of various local associations, from the Masons to the Fair Association: “Don’t forget to attend the Malheur County Fair!” one headline read.

In 1916, Plughoff sold the Argus to George K. Aiken, who was also the mayor of Ontario and member of the State Game Commission. Despite his allegiance to the community, Aiken had a reputation among Oregon journalists for writing honest and critical editorials.

The Ontario Argus was also an early leader in extending opportunities in the journalism trade to women. A "poet's corner" was established and edited by the publisher's wife, Lulu Piper Aiken. In 1931, the Argus starting running columns by Dottie Crummett Edwards; this was at a time when newspaper features written by women were unusual in any part of the country. The paper also took on national advertising clients, such as Camel cigarettes and pesticide companies. By then, the Argus had softened its tone of being a business booster and started to include more balanced local coverage focusing on quality-of-life issues such as schools and garbage collection. In 1947, the Ontario Argus merged with the Eastern Oregon Observer to form the Ontario Argus-Observer.

Provided by: University of Oregon Libraries; Eugene, OR