The Winters Express
The Winters Express
The first Express came off the press in February of 1884
Edwin C. Rust was the founder of the Express, with the first issue coming off the press on February 1, 1884. Rust, who was formerly with the Solano Republican, came from a newspaper family and his father published a paper in Marysville called the Daily California Express. Edwin wrote in one of the early editions of the Winters Express that he named the paper after his father’s paper in Marysville.
The Marysville California Express was printed from 1851 to 1866 and in E. C. Kemble’s "History of California Newspapers," published by the Sacramento Union in 1858, Kemble wrote: "The Marysville California Express was established by R. Rust & Co., November 3rd 1851. Its editors from the commencement have been R. Rust, J. R. Ridge, A. C. Russell, present editor. The Express is the oldest living paper in Marysville, and through started neutral in politics, was very early attached to the Democratic faith, in which it has since remained. In 1856 it opposed the action of the Vigilance Committee."
Rust operated a real state and insurance business on the side and owned the Express until July, 1896 when he sold the paper to Frank H. Owen, who had been working for the St. Helena Star as a printer. Some of the original equipment purchased by Mr. Rust in starting the Express, is still in use at the Express.
Mr. Rust began running the following ad under the masthead on April 25, 1896: "This paper for sale. The Express is offered for sale. To a practical man, wishing a good safe business, this is just the opportunity for an investment."
The advertisement ran continuously until July, 1896 when Mr. Owen came over from St. Helena and although he said later that he was broke from a previous business venture, he managed to borrow enough money locally to buy out Rust.
Rust left Winters and moved to Jackson, Amador County, where he published a paper. A local in the Express on July 25, 1913 reported that he was employed at that time on the Pacific Grove Daily Review. A brief personal item in the Express on March 19, 1926 mentions that "Mrs. Edwin C. Rust of Berkeley visited the Express office. Her late husband established the Winters Express."
Owen and his son Walter ran the paper until March 6, 1908. When they bought the paper, it was located in the west half of what is now the Winters Opera House, then known as the Seaman Building. Under their management, a new building was constructed at the northwest corner of First and Main, to house the Express. This building was being used by Drs. Corbin and Ernie Young and Dr. J. R. Sellers at the time it was sold to make room for the new Bank of America building.
Frank Owen, a staunch Republican, was appointed postmaster in 1900 and turned the paper over to Walter Owen to manage. The postmaster’s job was originally to go to Charles Sinclair, but his untimely death left the appointment open and it was offered to Mr. Owen.
The son, Walter, married one of Rev. H. C. Culton’s daughters, Sally, and the Owens lived here until 1908 when the elder Owen’s health began to fail and they moved to Southern California, selling out to F.C. Hemenway.
In those years, the paper was printed on a Washington hand press, one page at a time, with the type inked by hand each time a sheet of paper was placed in position. While on a visit to Winters in 1955 Walter recalled that the type was all set by hand, a letter at a time, and among the typesetters working at the Express at the turn of the century were Mrs. Alice Rice, Miss Marie W. Riesback, Mrs. Walter R. Chapman and Mrs. Charles S. Chambers. He described Mrs. Rice as the fastest typesetter he had- she could set three columns of type a day. Mrs. Chambers preferred to work in the post office and set type only when the postal work was slack or when the typesetting work was behind schedule.
During the Owen tenure, several competing newspapers sprang up in Winters.
A local Methodist minister, Rev. B. J. Waugh, started a paper called the Winters Independent in 1896, primarily to support William Jennings Bryan’s quest for for the presidency. Following Bryan’s defeat, he sold the newspaper to Frank Cluff, who continued to operate it for a few years, but sold out to the Express before the turn of the century.
The next newspaper founded here was much stronger opposition to the Express. In 1906 Lawrence Wilson, a prominent local rancher, businessman, politician and attorney, started a twice-a-week paper called the Yosolano Citizen.
Wilson had served in the state legislature, married into the Wolfskill family and was an astute businessman. He operated the Yosolano Citizen for two years until his friend, F.C. Hemenway bought the Express, after which he sold out to the new Express owner.
The Yosolano Citizen was a well-equipped paper and this equipment was added to that of the Express.
Mr. Hemenway took over the Express in March, 1908 and owned it for 37 years, lacking one month. He was a native of Chicago, moved to Kansas with his family in the late 1870’s and arrived in Winters in 1887.
He was a member of the first graduating class of Winters High School in 1895 and attended the University of California at Berkeley. Fred returned to Winters and taught school in Buckeye, Union and Fairfield districts and was principal of the Winters Grammar School for one year.
Hemenway left school teaching to work with Lawrence Wilson on the Yosolano Citizen and then moved over to the Express. During his long tenure, he also served as postmaster and developed extensive ranching interests.
Twice in the 1920’s, Hemenway leased out the paper for a year, so he could devote his time to his farming, but each time he returned at the end of the year to resume the editorship. In his later years as owner, his son Harvey managed the paper.
Active in community affairs, Fred Hemenway was at various times a member of the city council, secretary of the High School board of trustees, leader of the Winters Municipal Band, one of the founders of the Winter Growers, was active in the organization of the Winters Exchange Club and the Winters Service Club, which later became the Chamber of Commerce, and was on the advisory board of the local branch of Bank of America.
He sold the paper to Walter Stark on December 15, 1944 to devote his time to farming. In addition to ranches here, he had a large acreage on the coast north of Fort Bragg where he and his wife Eva, spent most of their time in later years. He died November 28, 1964 at the age of 90 at his Fort Bragg home.
C. F. Hager
On August 28, 1925 Fred Hemenway announced that he had leased the Express for one year to F. W. Tilney and C. F. Hager, whom he described as experienced newspapermen. In making the announcement Hemenway wrote: As for ourselves we have had 18 years of nonstop activities in the newspaper game and are looking for a wee bit shorter hours. We are going to join the honest farmers and starve."
Tilner’s name was dropped from the masthead in December 1925 and for the remainder of the year’s lease the masthead read: "C. F. Hager, Editor and Publisher."
Hager wrote at the end of the year that he was returning to his ranch in Vacaville.
On Nov. 29, 1929, Hemenway announced that he had leased the Express to George A. Dawley, editor of the Colusa Daily Sun. Dawley and his wife, John, ran the Express until Dec. 1, 1930 when their lease expired. It was the beginning of the depression and Dawley, a good newspaperman, managed to survive. He went from Winters back to the Arbuckle American and then on to Biggs, where he was the publisher of Biggs News until his death.
While at Biggs, he also served as justice of the peace.
Walter Stark had been a banker and when the Winters Bank was merged with Bank of America, he bought the Express and operated it for 11 months, discovering that running a paper was a difficult task for a person trained in other fields. He sold out in November, 1945 to Fred W. Smith, who had just sold his interest in the Woodland Record. Stark returned to banking, being employed in Dixon with the First National Bank of Dixon until his retirement.
Smith took over the paper when it was located at the southwest corner of First and Main, where Day’s Pharmacy is now located, and bought the building at 310 Railroad Avenue from Jack Vasey, moving the newspaper plant during 1946.
The Express was operated by Mr. Smith until January, 1947, when he sold out to Mr. and Mrs. Newton Wallace, the preset publishers. After selling the paper, Smith turned to construction, buying the old buildings on Elliott Street which had been part of the "Japanese Town" and razing them, building several houses there and also on East Baker Street.
From Winters, Mr. and Mrs. Smith moved to Sacramento where he returned to printing, working for a number of years for Sacramento where he returned to printing, working for a number of years for the Sacramento Bee before retiring.
Newt & Ida Wallace
Mr. and Mrs. Newton Wallace bought the paper in December 1946 and took over on January 1, 1947. Both graduates of Iowa State College (now Iowa State University) at Ames, Newt worked as news editor of the Denison, Iowa Review; later for the Long Beach Independent, a morning daily, and the Upland News, a twice-a-week paper, before buying the Express.
Newt and Ida Wallace remained as publishers until April 15, 1983 when their son, Charles R. Wallace, was named as publisher, with Newt retaining his position as president of Winters Express Inc. and Ida as news editor and vice president of the corporation.
Charles was practically raised in the newspaper office and received a bachelor or science degree in Printing Engineering from California Polytechnic Sate University at San Luis Obispo in 1974. Following graduation he took a job with Fashion Arts Press in Los Angeles where he worked for over two years. In April, 1977 he returned to Winters and joined the family business, first as production supervisor and then added the duties of advertising manager.
In 1995 the Wallaces merged the paper with the McNaughtons, who own The Davis Enterprise, Fairfield Daily Republic and the Mountain Democrat in Placerville.
Newt continues to come in to work every day and Charley is still the publisher. Debra (Ramos) LoGuercio started working at the Express in 1992 as the editor, and Dawn VanDyke came on board as in 1996 as the city editor. Under their guidance the Express was named best small weekly in California in 2000.
Longtime Employees in Express history
Henry C. MacArthur, retired owner of the Capitol News Service, got his start in the newspaper business as a printer’s devil for the Winters Express and later went on to be a reporter for the Woodland Democrat, the Sacramento Union, and was editor of a Stockton paper prior to the founding of Capitol News Service, which covered events at the State Capitol for newspapers throughout California.
His mother, the late Maud Culton McArthur, was a writer for the Express for about 40 years. Like Fred Hemenway, she was in the first graduating class of Winters High School, and graduated from Mills College. She stayed on there as a teacher, but returned to Winters to marry N. A. McArthur, a local businessman. Maud was a fluent writer and an avid historian, and much of what is recorded about Winters history was written by Mrs. McArthur.
Because of her husband’s failing health, she retired from the Express in 1950 and her place was taken by Mrs. N. D. (Dorothy) Thomas, who covered the news for 23 years prior to her retirement in 1972.
Mrs. Thomas had served as president of the Winters Fortnightly Club and had served as city clerk for two terms. She discovered that retirement was not what she wanted, so took a job as a local corespondent for the Daily Democrat and also accepted a position on the Winters city council.
Another long-time employee was Mrs. Edwin (Rachel) Udell who had nearly a half century in the print shop before she retired. Her brother, the l#ate Emil A. Sager had started out as a printer’s deliver the Express, and while still in high school, Rachel began working for the paper.
Emil had moved on to Esparto where he was owner of the Esparto Exponent when he enlisted in the Navy during World War II. He later spent most of his life in he printing business in the Bay Area.
Rachel learned how to operate the new-fangled type-setting machine called the Linotype, which replaced the hand-setting of type at the Express, and operated the machine until the Linotype was replaced by cold type composition. She worked at the Express and also for the Dixon Tribune. A lifelong resident of Winters, she had a vast knowledge of people and events and aided greatly in correcting inaccuracies in names and relationships. She was also an excellent speller (like most old-time Linotype operators) and an authority on the division of words.
Another long-time employee was J. O. Jewett, who began working part-time for the Express in 1953 and was a columnist and commercial printer and associate publisher of the Express. Even when he operated his own commercial printing business in Fairfield, he handled practically all of that aspect of the business for the Express.