This spring The Ferndale Enterprise celebrated the 134th anniversary of its birth.
It was on May 11, 1878 that the Jones boys — William Gaston, James and Archibald, sons of the town’s Methodist minister — launched their weekly newspaper. It hasn’t missed an issue since.
The Joneses had taken space on Brown Street to house their offices and printing press. William Gaston Jones was the editor. He and his brothers had launched the Enterprise as an answer to oft-expressed dreams of Ferndale citizens to have their own newspaper, and also in the face of skepticism that the venture could succeed financially. Within a few months, the Jones brothers had removed any lingering doubts by engaging sales agents in Eureka, Rohnerville, Petrolia — even Sacramento and San Francisco.
In 1880, the Reverend Jones left the Methodist Church, and his sons moved with the family. This caused them to sell the newspaper to F.A. Alford, a physician.
Over the years, the Enterprise has changed owners 14 times. The longest-running ownerships were those of Herbert N. Briggs (1901-10, in partnership with William E. Butler, and 1910-32 as sole owner); and George and Hazel Waldner (1939-80). Elizabeth Poston McHarry, owner/publisher from 1982, sold the Enterprise to TSM Publishing, Inc. in October 1995. In October 1998, the paper was sold to editor Caroline Titus, who had edited and contributed to the paper for seven years prior, and to her husband, Ferndale native Stuart Titus. Today, Ferndale’s hometown newspaper has more than 1,700 subscribers, an average of 3,500 to 4,000 readers each week, and subscribers in 28 states besides California.
In 1997, for the first time since Hazel Waldner announced the end of World War II with a hand-printed red banner headline, the Enterprise won a statewide newspaper competition. It was judged first in its class for editorials and second for spot news by the California Newspaper Publishers Association. Since then, its winning streak continues, with more than 30 state and national awards gracing the office wall.
“We love the fact we can win state and national awards but at the same time give our readers a fun community newspaper,” remarked Caroline Titus. “This paper really is all about us — us being the wonderful community we’re lucky enough to live in.”
Drop by and see us while you are in Ferndale. You won’t find a green eyeshade or any printer’s ink anywhere, but you will find a friendly staff and maybe a fresh cup of coffee.
We hope you enjoy our paper and take it home to remind you of your visit to the Ferndale area. Better yet, bring Ferndale to your home every week of the year with a subscription.
The Ferndale Enterprise office is located at 207 Francis Street in the historic Dr. Alford house, built in 1884. Fun factoid: In 1881 the house next door to 207 Francis — the one with two front doors located at 219 Francis — was built in 1881 as an office for The Ferndale Enterprise.
We moved in December 2007 from our previous location of nine years, behind the Victorian Inn at the end of Main Street (technically, it turns into Francis Street). This old photo from 1891 shows where The Enterprise was located more than 100 years ago. The empty lot right behind The Enterprise sign (on the right edge of the photo) is where we moved from in 2007. (Don’t get our location confused with our old office on Main Street, across from the Valley Grocery. The word “Enterprise” is still written on the front of that building. For more than 70 years it was located at that spot.)
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Some photos courtesy of Ferndale Museum. (c) The Ferndale Enterprise 2012. Please do not reproduce any images without permission.
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