After 121 Years Weekly, George Washington's Bay City Democrat Goes Biweekly
Venerable Legal Newspaper Now to be Issued Tuesdays and Thursdays
March 12, 2011
Leave A Comment
By: Dave Rogers
George Washington, Bay City politician turned newspaper publisher.
His name really was George Washington (not THE George Washington, of course) and he founded The Bay City Democrat weekly newspaper in 1890.
After 121 years, the Bay City Democrat and Bay County Legal News, 309 Ninth St., is going bi-weekly beginning Tuesday, March 15. The growing number of legal ads, obviously the result of numerous real estate foreclosures, is cited as the main reason for increasing the frequency of publication.
"This is being done in order to better serve all who need to have legal information published in our newspaper in a more timely manner," wrote publisher and editor Carol DeVeau in a front page announcement in the March 10 issue.
The new subscription rate of $14 per year will include the two issues per week, Tuesdays and Thursdays. The previous subscription rate was $10 per year.
Newspaper founder Washington had been postmaster of Bay City and former mayor of West Bay City as well as Bay County Sheriff before launching the now venerable weekly in 1890. He had been one of the chief financial backers of the Saginaw Valley Star, which ceased publication in the late 1880s.
As the masthead proudly proclaims, the Democrat was unabashedly political. Early on the newspaper supported Democratic candidates like Thomas A.E. Weadock, Irish-born lawyer who served as Bay City mayor 1883-1885 and in Congress representing this area 1891-1895. He was an associate justice of the Michigan Supreme Court for five years until his death in 1938.
It was also a strong booster for economic development.
"The Democrat not only felt but also recorded the events that changed Bay City from a sawdust capitol to one of the most important manufacturing cities in the state," it boasted in the 50th anniversary edition in 1940.
"Bay City then had a population of 30,042," the paper reported. "There were a hundred saw mills lining the banks of the Saginaw River, and the joke of the time was that the scenic view along the stream from Bay City to Saginaw consisted of solid phalanges of lumber piles."
The Democrat soon complained about the passage by Congress during the Grover Cleveland administration of a $2 tariff on logs which led to a Canadian edict that all timber cut on Crown lands had to be processed at home. That fight presaged the virtual end of the lumbering era, as local mills had depended on Canadian logs to keep saws whirling.
(NOTE: In 1890 the United States reduced its tariff by one-half in return for Canada's removing its export tax on logs. From 1894 to 1897, free trade again prevailed with Canada in lumber. However, the Dingley Tariff of 1897 the U.S. lumber industry had a $2 per thousand board feet import tariff on lumber reimposed.)
The Democrat "modestly claims to have some small part in initiating the diversified industries of which the city boasts today," it asserted.
Success of the newspaper led Washington to establish the Industrial Herald in the interest of organized labor in 1901. Washington also owned and published a Polish language newspaper, Pravda (Truth) that soon became Sztandar Polski (Polish Standard), sold to the Standard Publishing Company in 1910.
Succeeding Washington as editor was Giles Kavanagh, son-in-law of the founder, who later became U.S. Internal Revenue Collector at Detroit. Edward C. Washington, son of the founder, assumed the mantle of editor until his death in 1939. Joseph M. Kerr then became editor with John S. Ress as business manager.
The newspaper remained a political force in the community especially during the 1950s and 1960s when the late Raymond J. Kuhn, managing editor of The Bay City Times, wrote an anonymous column each week.
A series of owners including Richard E. List operated the newspaper until recent times when Ms. DeVeau assumed the posts of editor and publisher.
History Article 5757
Dave Rogers is a former editorial writer for the Bay City Times and a widely read,
respected journalist/writer in and around Bay City.
(Contact Dave Via Email at firstname.lastname@example.org)
More from Dave Rogers
Send This Story to a Friend!
Letter to the editor
Link to this Story
Printer-Friendly Story View
--- Advertisments ---