The Hood River Glacier, Hood River, OR., November 11, 1915, page 1

Record Held For Fast Case Work
Retired Dean of His Profession Now Resides Contended and Optimistic at His Twin Oaks Farm

     Retired dean of Pacific coast printers and pioneer newspaper man of Montana, San Francisco and Portland, Samuel F. Blythe, at the age of 73 years, may be found today the resident-owner of Twin Oaks farm, one of the Hood River valley's most beautiful homesites. When Mr. Blythe in the days of his prime was active in following his profession, those days before the lino-type machine was introduced, he had no equal in his swiftness and accuracy at the case. At Virginia City, Mont., in 1867, and in Portland in later years, working on the old Bulletin, Mr. Blythe made records that have never been surpassed. Recalling these earlier years as he tills his farm today, Mr. Blythe is contented, and in all of Hood River there is perhaps no man more optimistic.
     "We have talked of our financial stringencies and our hard times the past year," says Mr. Blythe, "but the troubles of today are inconsequential to those of us old-timers who lived through 1873, the year of Portland's big fire. A panic had seized upon the entire country, and our calamity added to the depression."
     A native of Pennsylvania, Mr. Blythe was living in Ohio at the outbreak of the Civil war. Answering the call for volunteers he enlisted in the 22nd Ohio infantry. He saw three years' of active service in the Mississippi valley. He was with the army of Grant at the battle of Fort Donaldson, Shiloh and Cornith. He participated in the seige of Vicksburg and the capture of that city.
     When the army was stationed on the Tennessee river Mr. Blythe was ordered to take charge of a print shop at Trenton and make up a quantity of blanks for the quartermaster's department.
     "Wile I was engaged in this work," he says, a new regiment that had just joined us became engaged in a battle at a cross roads. One of the boys, fired with enthusiasm over the new and thrilling experiences and visited by inspiration, wrote a poem of many stanzas, describing the battle. He came to me and I bargained to print the poem for him at $2.50 per quire, obtaining paper, writing tablets that were kept for us soldiers when we wanted to write home, from the sutler. As fast as I delivered the private poems he sold them at 25 cents apiece to members of his regiment. Both of us were fast acquiring the small change of that regiment, when orders came to march.
     "While I was working at Trenton a southern girl brought me a copy of the 'Bonnie Blue Flag,' and I made a number of copies of it for her. In reply to this bit of bit of wartime southern sentiment a Kansas officer wrote a poem, copies of which I printed for him."
     Mr. Blythe declares that he would be glad to secure a copy of the reply to the ""Bonnie Blue Flag." The sentiment, he says, called to the minds of the Confederates that the Stars and Stripes would eventually again wave supreme above both the north and south, and that the soldiers of both armies would again be brothers.
     Toward the close of the war Mr. Blythe enlisted in Hancock's Veteran Corps. During the trial of Mrs. Surratt, who was convicted as an accomplice in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln , the Corps was stationed in Washington.
     "We were in charge of the execution of a woman," says Mr. Blythe. "My regiment was stationed just outside the enclosure in which Mrs. Surratt was put to death. We stood there in solid ranks with charged bayonets, while thousands of people surged up against us. One man, he was very drunk, as he pushed against me, tried to exchange a handful of greenbacks for my gun."
     No sooner was Mr. Blythe a private citizen again then he determined to take the advice of Horace Greeley and strike for the west. He and a companion, Dan Ridenour, arrived at St. Joseph, Mo. Here the companion became discouraged and turned back.
     "We had no money for outfitting," says Mr. Blythe, "and we had planned on making our way across the plains by driving oxen. As soon as we saw the teams of animals and how they were managed, we knew we would never reach the Rocky mountains in this manner. So Dan returned to Ohio and his sweetheart. I was determined to reach the Rockies before going back.
     "I made immediately for a newspaper office, and was given work at the office of the St. Joseph Gazette, despite the fact that I was not a union man; for even then the labor unions were active.
     "Just when I had saved up $75 four friends, among them Capt. William Lockwood, reached St. Joseph en route to the west. They persuaded me to put my $75 in the jackpot and join them. I had just two bits left after turning that money over to Capt. Lockwood. I spent the last cent of it -- it was one of those old fashioned shin plasters -- for a dozen eggs for our last feast the night before we started on the long trail."
     Mr. Blythe says that he feels sure that no more inexperienced party ever left St. Joseph. "None of us knew anything about oxen," he says, "and of course, we were bested in our bargains for teams. We crossed the Missouri river on May 20, and on the first night one of those severe thunderstorms struck us. For fear that we could not put the yokes on again, we had left the oxen tied in pairs to trees. All five of us piled in our wagon for the night. I shall never forget the lightning, the thunder and that terrible downpour. The next day we made a farmhouse -- we had progressed just six miles. The farmer assisted us with our oxen the next morning and we started on. Fortunately for us we overtook a party with an overloaded wagon. Mired to the hubs the heavy schooner was stuck. However, the party had been experienced negro driver. The colored man hitched on our teams and soon had his wagon out of the mud. The owner of the outfit then made a bargain with us. He gave us a team of oxen and the negro driver, and put a part of his freight aboard our wagon. And thus we reached the west, I don't believe we would ever have succeeded if we had not met with this outfit; for just about another day of the trials we were having would have disheartened all of our party."
      Members of Mr. Blythe's party filed on claims near Bozeman, Mont. Irrigation ditches were dug, poles work cut for fencing and ploughing was done.
     "To furnish money buy supplies," says Mr. Blythe, "I hired out to an old German farmer to work in his harvest fields. He gave me $3 a day and board. I never bound grain before, and for the first few days I thought it would kill me, but I stuck to it. When I became tougher I don't think any man ever enjoyed his meals as I did there at the old German's home."
     The next spring, however, the farms were abandoned. The homesteaders did not have sufficient funds to purchase seed, of which was selling for $5 per bushel.
     "We lost our cattle, wagon and everything we had," says Mr. Blythe. "It was then that I determined to go to Virginia City, where I finally secured work on a newspaper published every other day. The regular pay was $1 per 1,000 ems. I could easily set 10,000 ems a day. I remained there for a year. The legislature sat while I was at work in Virginia City and I secured a job on territorial bill work. This was considered fat, and during a one week of six days I made one $144."
     Later when working on the Bulletin in Portland, Mr. Blythe set 93,000 ems during a six-day week. However, the Portland price was only 60 cents per 1,000.
     After a year the Virginia City plant was removed to Helena, then the center of mining interests.
     "I decided to return to Ohio," says Mr. Blythe, "The journey was made by Missouri river steamer from Fort Benton. During the year I had accumulated $1,500.
     "I have arrived home at Eaton, Ohio, where my mother lived, on the night before July 4. The weather was terrifically hot, and after a year in the high altitude I found that I was not able to stand it. I left for Chicago, where I worked on the daily newspapers and in September, this was the year 1868, I left again for the Rocky mountains. At Salt Lake cty two of us boys who formed the party, purchased cayuses and rode horseback the entire distance from Utah city to Helena, Mont."
     Mr. Blythe the next year left for California. He worked for a time on the Sacramento Union and journeyed on down to San Francisco, where he worked on the Call, the Alta, Delta, the Chronicle and the Bulletin.
     In June, 1870, Ben Halladay, planning to start a paper in Portland, sent James O'Mara to San Francisco to purchase a plant. The San Francisco Times had just ceased publication, and Mr. O'Mara purchased the entire outfit of the defunct paper. The foreman for the new Portland paper, the Bulletin, and the city editor were secured in San Francisco. The foreman was instructed to select a crew of swift, sober compositors, and Mr. Blythe was among the printers chosen for the journey north.
     "We all came up on Mr. Halladay's boat," says Mr. Blythe. "There were ten of us in the party. So far as I know, I am the only printer of that party that survives. Even the pressmen were chosen in San Francisco.
     "The Bulletin lasted for five years, and I remained with it. The late Harvey W. Scott became editor. Then the Bulletin and Mr. Scott became editor of the Oregonian, where he made for himself a national name.
     "In 1875 a number of us printers started the Daily Bee. It ran until 1881. I was with the Bee but 11 months. For a time it was a popular and progressive paper. It was made unpopular when the business manager of the publication engaged one day in a street fight with and killed the business manager of the Evening Telegram.
     "In 1873 a Democratic legislature passed what was known as the Litigant Act. The statute was enacted for the purpose of building up a Democratic organ in the city of Portland and at the same time aiding struggling Democratic sheets throughout the state. It provided that all legal publications be placed in papers designated by the governor.
     "The late Judge C.B. Bellinger, who was a federal judge at the time of his death, organized a company of printers and started the Daily News. I was one of the printers and remained there a year. Other members of the joint stock company owning the paper and compositors on the sheet were J.J. Curry, John S. Hughes and Arthur Gelaney. One of the first acts of the following Republican legislature was to repel the Litigant Act, and of course, this killed the Daily News."
     In 1877 Mr. Blythe came to Hood River seeking health. He purchased 22 acres of oak covered land on the old State road west of the city. Later 22 additional adjoining acres were bought. In 1881 he returned to Portland and engaged for two years with Ed Casey and H. Paffenburger in the publication of the Farm and Dairyman, which is now merged with the Pacific Farmer. In 1884 Mr. Blythe came to Hood River and spent two years on his farm, returning to Portland in 1886 to work for six months as a postal clerk.
     After working as printer at intervals for five years for John H. Cradlebaugh, who, with Geo. T. Prather, founded the Hood River Glacier. Mr. Blythe purchased this pioneer paper of the Hood River valley. A claim against the early publisher for wages as typesetter was applied on the purchase price. Until 1904, when the Glacier was sold to A.D. Moe, its present publisher, Mr. Blythe was a leading spirit in the activities of the Apple Valley. His son E.N. Blythe, now a member of the staff of the Oregonian, received his early newspaper training in his father's office.
     The smell of printer's ink still has its charm for the former printer-publisher, and on visits to the city he cannot refrain from entering the plant of his former publication, there to fill his nostrils with the peculiar print-shop odor.
     Mr. Blythe, now adjutant of the Canby Post, is past commander of the Department of Oregon, G.A.R. He has been has been present at numerous national encampments of the Grand Army. To the local old soldiers and early pioneers Mr. Blythe is known as Sam. Let a veteran get sick or find himself in need and a message to Twin Oaks gets a quick response.
     Twin Oaks farm is such a novelty in the Hood River valley that it has become the mecca for numerous local people, and visitors to the valley often journey there to witness the pleasing pastoral scenes. While Mr. Blythe has a productive orchard, he has left much of his estate in a natural condition. Giant oaks stand in the meadows. Indeed, there are oaks rearing themselves on every corner of the farm. Their foliage shades the deep, cool spring, the source of the domestic water supply. The farm name originated from two oaks, as nearly alike as nature could make them, that grew side by side in front of the pioneer home.
     The old building is now used for a storehouse. Mr. Blythe has built a handsome and commodious new residence among his oak trees. With the stores from their gardens in cellar and garrett, with their time taken in the care of a number of livestock and poultry, Mr. Blythe and his wife are spending a happy evening-time of life. They were married in Portland in 1873. Mrs. Blythe's maiden name having been Emma Nation. Mrs. Blythe is a native English woman. Her family, however, came to America when she was a small child. They resided in Pennsylvania until 1871, when they journeyed across the country to Oregon.
     Twin Oaks farm has become known throughout the bounds of the county for the good, old fashioned, rural hospitality with which Mr. and Mrs. Blythe entertain their guests, and it is not infrequent that parties of pioneers and veterans and their families assemble there to make merry and live over in the stories that are told of the long ago.

©  Jeffrey L. Elmer