Attention, our new domain home page is:
Site founded Sept. 1, 2000. We passed 1.25 million page views on Nov. 1, 2006
These home pages remain free of any charge. We need donations or subscriptions/gifts.
Please pass on this website link to your family, relatives, friends and clients.

(2 girls and logger)

Skagit River Journal

of History & Folklore
Subscribers Edition Stories & Photos
The most in-depth, comprehensive site about Skagit County

Covers from British Columbia to Puget Sound. Counties covered: Skagit, Whatcom, Island, San Juan, Snohomish & BC. An evolving history dedicated to committing random acts of historical kindness
Noel V. Bourasaw, editor (bullet) 810 Central Ave., Sedro-Woolley, Washington, 98284
Home of the Tarheel Stomp (bullet) Mortimer Cook slept here & named the town Bug

(Click to send email)

Introduction to William Lightfoot Visscher

(Visscher mug)
William Lightfoot Visscher
      Ed. note: we have the only known surviving copy of the Fairhaven Illustrated magazine, which was published sometime in the fall of 1890. Below you will find the section about the newspapers in Fairhaven, Washington, at the time, which was presumably written by William Lightfoot Visscher, who was then the editor of the Fairhaven Herald. In linked stories, we refer to this section as Visscher's "1890 Autobiography" because he or the writer provided a profile and background for Visscher. Below the profile you will find links to all the Journal stories about Visscher and Fairhaven and his role as editor, performer and author in Tacoma, Chicago and across the United States.
      The publisher of this magazine also published similar magazine-format booster booklets in Tacoma, Seattle, Anacortes and other cities in the Northwest. The Anacortes version had multiple editions and we have one from 1891. The publisher explained their process as:

      Baldwin, Calcutt & Blakely Publishing Co., with their headquarters at 184 and 186 Monroe Streets, Chicago; heretofore we have outside of Chicago and vicinity solicited little else than publishing contracts, but the news company will include not only general lines of publications, but in addition a general printing, binding, engraving and lithographing business; our departments include the largest composition rooms in Chicago, our line of steam presses are of the largest and most improved patterns; the binding, engraving and lithographing departments are second to none, and out staff of artists includes some of the best known for portrait, map and scenic work to be found in the country. The variety of work produced may to a limited extent be seen in this volume; we shall establish a branch in some city of Washington, and do business with all parts of the State we well as the Pacific Coast.
We hope that a reader will either know more about the company or will have a copy of a similar magazine or will know the location of any copies, especially in museums or libraries.

Newspapers in Fairhaven, 1890
      There are now published in the city two newspapers, the Herald and the Plaindealer. The Plaindealer was the pioneer paper of Fairhaven, having been started in July 1889. Those first interested in the paper are no longer connected with it. Mr. F.M. Donnelly bought a third interest in May, 1890, and although not a journalist himself has succeeded in making the paper not only a very spicy sheet but a financial success as well. In this he attributes much to Mr. James Alexander Strong, who has. acted for some months as editorial writer, and is certainly a man of most prolific ideas and good literary tastes and talents. Mr. Strong is strongly Democratic in politics and the paper is also a Democratic sheet. Mr. Strong is a well-known newspaper man and has now become more actively interested in the Plaindealer, which I understand is to be issued tri-weekly instead of weekly as heretofore, and is now owned and controlled entirely by Messrs. Donnelly & Strong.
(Lecture playbill)
Play bill for Visscher's lecture tour, from the Cameron, Missouri, Observer, Ca. 1875
      The Fairhaven Herald, which was first issued on March 11, 1890, is one of the leading journals of Washington, contains the United Press reports, and is edited by Col. Will L. Visscher, president of the Washington Press Association. Mr. W.F. Woods, formerly manager of the Tacoma Globe, is the general manager, and Mr. A. Rosenthal the city editor. The Herald is an eight-page daily and will contain the Associated Press news as soon as the Western Union wires are built through to Fairhaven.
      Col. Visscher is so well known by reputation throughout the United States that his name will be readily recognized in all newspaper and publishing circles, he having written, in addition to his newspaper work, two volumes of poetry and a number of novels and successful melodramas. He is a descendant of the famous sculptor, Peter Visscher, and the royal house of Orange on his father's side and of the Huguenots on his mother's side; so the Visscher side [of] his family has for the past ten generations been composed of poets, painters, sculptors, warriors and statesmen. Col. Visscher was born in Owingsville, Bath County, Kentucky, and spent his early boyhood at Danville, Kentucky, called in those days the "Athens of the West." He was educated at Bath seminary and the University of Louisville, where he graduated in law in the class of 1867.
      In journalism he was brought up on the old Louisville Journal, beginning as amanuensis and private secretary of George D. Prentice. At the time of the consolidation of the Courier with the Journal he began publishing a daily newspaper on a steamer plying between Louisville and New Orleans, subsequently taking the position of paragrapher with the Indianapolis Journal. From there he was successively with the Kansas City Journal, Kansas City Herald, the Gazette of St. Joseph, Mo., and Rocky Mountain News of Denver, leaving then for San Francisco, where he spent five years on the press of that city. While at St. Joseph the Colonel was sent to Washington, D. C., where he spent one year as reporter of the House of Representatives. After leaving San Francisco he spent three years as comedian in the dramatic profession, afterward engaging himself on the press of Chicago, where he is an honorary member of the Press Club.
      In the summer of 1888 he returned to the Pacific Coast and became editorial writer on the Portland Oregonian leaving this position to assume editorial charge Jan. 1, 1889, of the Tacoma Daily Globe, which in a few months he pushed to the leading position it now occupies. Early in March 1890, he took editorial charge of the Fairhaven Herald. Colonel Visscher was a delegate to the late National Encampment of the G.A.R. held at Boston and was honored by a place on the Committee on Resolutions. He is commander of Coleman R. Apperson Post, G.A.R.. at Fairhaven, and colonel on the military staff of the Governor of Washington.
      Colonel Will L. Visscher holds a tender spot in the hearts of his Washington friends; he combines the wit and gentleness of the Kentuckian with the energy necessary to success in his profession and those who have read, laughed and cried over his quaint poetry in Southern dialect portraying characters of the South and of the Rebellion will then only have realized his power of thought.
      He held a high record in the Union army during the war; he helped to raise Company I of the 24th Kentucky Infantry and served with that regiment from the summer of 1861 to the Confederate surrender at Appomattox.

Links, background reading and sources

Return to the new-domain home page
Links for portals to subjects and towns
Newest photo features
Search entire site
You can click the donation button to contribute to the rising costs of this site. You can also subscribe to our optional Subscribers-Paid Journal magazine online, which is about to enter its sixth year with exclusive stories, in-depth research and photos that are shared with our subscribers first. You can go here to read the preview edition to see examples of our in-depth research.

(bullet) Story posted on Dec. 30, 2006
(bullet) See this Journal website for a timeline of local, state, national and international events for years of the pioneer period.
(bullet) Did you enjoy this story? Remember, as with all our features, this story is a draft and will evolve as we discover more information and photos. This process continues until we eventually compile a book about Northwest history.
(bullet) Can you help? We welcome correction and criticism.
(bullet) Please report any broken links or files that do not open and we will send you the correct link. With more than 550 features, we depend on your report. Thank you.
(bullet) Read about how you can order CDs that include our photo features from the first five years of our Subscribers Edition. Perfect for gifts.

You can read the history websites about our prime sponsors:
(bullet) Jones and Solveig Atterberry, NorthWest Properties Aiken & Associates: . . . See our website
Please let us show you residential and commercial property in Sedro-Woolley and Skagit County 2204 Riverside Drive, Mount Vernon, Washington . . . 360 708-8935 . . . 360 708-1729
(bullet) Schooner Tavern/Cocktails at 621 Metcalf Street in downtown Sedro-Woolley, across from Hammer Square: web page . . . History of bar and building
(bullet) Oliver Hammer Clothes Shop at 817 Metcalf Street in downtown Sedro-Woolley, 82 years.
(bullet) Joy's Sedro-Woolley Bakery-Cafe at 823 Metcalf Street in downtown Sedro-Woolley, 82 years.
(bullet) Check out Sedro-Woolley First section for links to all stories and reasons to shop here first
or make this your destination on your visit or vacation.
(bullet) DelNagro Masonry Brick, block, stone — See our work at the new Hammer Heritage Square
(bullet) Are you looking to buy or sell a historic property, business or residence?
We may be able to assist. Email us for details.
(bullet) Peace and quiet at the Alpine RV Park, just north of Marblemount on Hwy 20
Park your RV or pitch a tent by the Skagit River, just a short drive from Winthrop or Sedro-Woolley

Looking for something special on our site? Enter name, town or subject, then press "Find" Search this site powered by FreeFind
    Did you find what you were seeking? We have helped many people find individual names or places, so email if you have any difficulty.
    Tip: Put quotation marks around a specific name or item of two words or more, and then experiment with different combinations of the words without quote marks. We are currently researching some of the names most recently searched for — check the list here. Maybe you have searched for one of them?
Please sign our guestbook so our readers will know where you found out about us, or share something you know about the Skagit River or your memories or those of your family. Share your reactions or suggestions or comment on our Journal. Thank you for taking time out of your busy day to visit our site.

View My Guestbook
Sign My Guestbook
Email us at:
(Click to send email)
Mail copies/documents to Street address: Skagit River Journal, 810 Central Ave., Sedro-Woolley, WA, 98284.