Early Douglas County Newspapers

In August 1873 the Colorado Miner and Rocky Mountain News reported the appearance of the first known Douglas County newspaper.

“The copy before us is neatly printed, and displays talent and industry,” read the Colorado Miner on August 28, 1873.

Since Archives & Local History (ALH) possessed no copies of the Douglas County News, we weren’t able to judge for ourselves … until now!

While conducting initial processing of the more than 50 boxes of materials recently acquired by ALH as part of the Metzler estate collection, head archivist Alyssa Carver unearthed four editions of the Douglas County News from 1874, 1875 and 1876.

The earliest paper (from April 29, 1874) is only a clipping but confirms that Edward H. Sturdy was publishing out of Frankstown at the time. In fact, in its early days, the publication was sometimes known as the Frankstown News.

By January 20, 1875, Sturdy was operating out of Castle Rock and describing himself as “the wickedest man in the pencil shoving business” in a tongue-in-cheek advertisement for his own publication.

Accounts in other Colorado newspapers indicated that Sturdy left the News for the Cheyenne Sun in September 1876. Shortly before his move, the Golden Weekly Globe referred to the Douglas County News as “the most obscure sheet published in the territory.”

Maybe this is the reason so few copies still exist.

In 1876, the paper passed quickly from T.S. Harris to Walter Spencer. In November 1878, C.E. Parkinson purchased the publication and changed its name to the News Letter. However, Walter Spencer regained ownership in May 1879 and reverted the name to the Douglas County News. Spencer owned the newspaper until it ceased to publish in the winter of 1879.

So what were the people of Douglas County up to in 1874, 1875 and 1876? In January 1875, Thomas Harris, owner of the Star Saloon, was busy serving “good liquors of all kinds, cigars,” and “sardines and fresh oysters” while his patrons enjoyed billiards and “other amusements.”

R.R. Foster hoped to attract business to his Foster House on Perry Street with “good meals and fair dealing to defy competition in the town.” T.S. Harris at the Castle Rock Hotel charged $6 per week for room and board, or $5 if you just wanted to eat but not sleep. Transients coughed up 35 cents per meal.

From the March 1, 1876, edition, we get detailed descriptions of Kiowa ranchers, including Newton A. Gleason, who once ran the California Ranch with Dave Wood. His neighbor and brother Horace Gleason was described as a “dashing bachelor, rides a good horse, has a good heart, and is, with-all, a smart business man.”

My favorite excerpt from the papers is a letter to the editor written by Patrick McInroy in the August 11, 1875, edition titled “That Mathematical Problem.” McInroy takes issue with an unknown writer’s understanding of basic algebra. McInroy writes, “I claim that F.J.S. simply proves that twice zero is zero, which I fancy everybody knew before. … I have my opinion as to which is the more ignorant of the two of us, and he may have his opinion for all the difference it makes to me.”

After the Douglas County News folded, D.A. Jennings and W.F. Waller began publishing the Castle Rock Independent in January 1880. It, too, had a short life, lasting only about a year. A competing publication, the Castle Rock Journal, launched in June 1880, becoming the first long-lasting newspaper for the county.

To discover more about this topic or items in the archives, please check out ALH’s digital collections or contact archives staff at (303) 688-7730.

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