By Thomas K. Pendergast
Modern San Francisco news consumers, with their smart phones, iPods and the like, might find a combination of both the strange and the familiar in the pages of a west-side neighborhood newspaper from more than a century ago.
The first thing they might notice when browsing the front page for the November 12, 1897 issue of the Richmond Banner, for example, is the total lack of photographs and barely any graphic images at all. The weekly newspaper was published every Friday by Walter T. Lyon at 320 Sixth Avenue. The subscription was $1 per year, and this particular issue consisted of four pages.
The front page is seven columns of pure type (or in modern parlance, “content”) and breaks the news up into five overall sections. Two columns on the left present news briefs from the western region of the country, including the following:
A “mysterious disease” has broken out in Dawson City, which the physicians are unable to check, and is “carrying off an average of five men daily.”
The steam schooner Caspar, of San Francisco, struck on a reef near Point Arena, California, at midnight recently, and became a total wreck. Eleven of her crew of fifteen men are known to have perished.
More than two hundred oil wells, which have been closed down for two weeks, will resume pumping. More than 90,000 barrels have been taken from the tanks during the shut down. The producers believe that the rate of $1 per barrel desired can now be maintained.
The Sparta, Oregon, stage was held up by two masked men three miles from Baker City. The highwaymen had a lantern, which frightened the horses, causing them to run away, and the coach capsized. The driver grabbed the mail sack and reached the city in safety.
The International Fur Seal Convention opened at Washington in the latter part of October with Russia, Japan and the United States represented.
“Mr. A. Kutner, the well-known merchant of San Francisco and Fresno, who was several months ago refused a passport by the Russian Embassy at Washington, to visit relatives in Warsaw, Russia, on the grounds that he was “not a Christian.” However, he has received through the Department of State a passport giving him the privilege of spending one month in Warsaw. This establishes a precedent that will be of interest to all Jewish residents in the United States.”