I was up to 1907 in telling the history of Blackfoot’s newspapers in my last post. That was when Karl Brown began publishing The Blackfoot Optimist. It was not surprising to me that my great aunt, Agnes Just Reid, was featured in that paper as the reporter from Presto, or that they often published one of her poems. I was surprised, though, to eventually see her name listed as one of the owners of the newspaper. She and other investors, including William M. Dooley, who became editor, purchased the Optimist from founder Karl Brown in 1913. Dooley had previously been with The Shelley Pioneer.
Newspaper owners are sometimes wealthy nowadays, but it is a risky business. Papers consolidate, reorganize, and go broke. That was true in the early part of the Twentieth Century as well. The Blackfoot Optimist, which became The Bingham County News in 1918, struggled along until 1920 when the paper went bankrupt. That wasn’t the end of it, though. William S. Parkhurst, from Richfield, Idaho bought its assets at a sheriff’s auction. In 1921 it changed hands twice, ending up with Raymond Ludi, who ran it until August, 1930 when it was absorbed by The Idaho Republican, which you may recall was the paper started by Byrd Trego in 1904.
The Idaho Republican and its successors would ultimately be the major paper in the Blackfoot market. The Blackfoot Optimist and The Bingham County News would not be its only rivals, though.
On July 2, 1913, Edgar A. Cooke decided that “the time (was) ripe for the establishment of a daily paper in Blackfoot.” For a subscription price of 50 cents a week you could have The Evening Courier delivered to your door six days a week. The paper was likely undercapitalized. The January 28, 1914 issue announced that The Evening Courier had been placed in receivership. It struggled along under receivership for another year before folding in 1915.
Another paper, The Daily Bingham County News gave it a go starting in July 1920. Few issues of that one remain. It was still publishing in March of 1921 but probably disappeared shortly thereafter.
Tomorrow, we’ll take a closer look at The Idaho Republican and its successors, which include The Morning News.