Editor’s Note: The following is the ninth installment in a
series commemorating Morgan Hill’s 100th anniversary. The Morgan
Hill Times is taking a trip back in time to 1906. From now through
November, we will feature stories in Tuesday’s paper about the
people, places and events instrumental in the founding of the
Weekly Morgan Hill Sun, established in 1894, was bought by Morgan Hill Times
Morgan Hill – In 1892, a vagabond printer named George A. Edes wandered into the tiny village of Morgan Hill with the ambition of forming a newspaper. The publication he started led to the establishment of the Morgan Hill Times, the city’s oldest continuously run business enterprise.
Edes came from a long-established family of printers from the New England region. One of his ancestors, Benjamin Edes of Boston, helped found the Boston Gazette and Country Journal in 1754.
“This paper was the official organ of the Massachusetts Bay Colonists before and during the American Revolution,” according to a magazine article Edgar C. Smith wrote in Sprague’s Journal of Maine History. Its contributors included founding fathers John Adams and John Hancock, and in the newspaper’s office the Sons of Liberty dressed as “Indians” before raiding British ships in the famous Boston Tea Party.
The Edes family passed its printing and journalism skills from father to son for several generations, establishing various newspapers in Maine and Massachusetts. On Aug. 18, 1840, George A. Edes, the second of eight children, was born in the Maine town of Foxcraft in Piscataquis County, according to Gregory L. Balkovek in his masters degree thesis “History of the Morgan Hill Times & San Martin News.”
After graduating from Foxcroft Academy, the young Edes began his apprenticeship in the family printing trade. He eventually established himself as a newspaper publisher and worked for many years in that trade. But in the late 1860s, with the completion of the transcontinental railroad, his adventurous heart yearned to leave New England and explore the West.
“His travels brought him to California and then, afer staying a short time, he decided to return to Maine,” Balkovek wrote. “Working his way east, Edes settled in Salt Lake City a short time. His stay was of short duration, however, and he left after many disagreements with the Mormon community made it apparent his presence was not desired.”
Edes never made it back to Maine. His wanderlust led him to Wisconsin where, in January 1875, he married a woman named Nettie Englesby. That same year, he also started a local newspaper in Whitehall, Wis.
Edes’s restless feet took the couple to Watertown, S.D., where he formed a Republican newspaper and published it for eight years. During that time, Edes and his wife had two sons, Verti and Clyde.
Perhaps Edes’ short excursion to sunny California made him long to return to the Golden State. Or perhaps he’d heard plots of Catherine Dunne’s ranch were being sold to form a new settlement called Morgan Hill after a local landowner in Santa Clara County. Whatever the reason, he made his way west to Morgan Hill and, in February 1892, stepped off at the train depot serving the community of 125 residents.
Edes immediately went to the Morgan Hill developer’s office and inquired if they’d be keen on his starting a newspaper for the town. The real estate developers quickly realized his business offer would help promote the community and build a business base.
“He received an overjoyed, ‘yes!’,” Balkovek’s thesis quotes descendent Harold Edes describing his grandfather in an interview. “In exchange for a lot of ground and office space, he provided limited free space in his newspaper for full-page advertisements of the land developments.”
Edes named his newspaper the Morgan Hill Sun. Its first edition – a four-page, seven-column paper – appeared on April 12, 1894. Soon after the Sun’s establishment, Nettie, Verti and Clyde left Watertown to join Edes in Morgan Hill. Quickly, the ambitious newspaper owner and his family gained great respect in the growing village.
“A man of sound principles, high civic ideals, and calm judgement in political and other emergencies, Edes soon became well known as a journalist and businessman in the area,” Balkovek wrote. “Through the exercise of tact and consideration he made few enemies and both his popularity and influence grew.”
Along with his sterling reputation, Edes’ newspaper also grew. In June of 1896, the Sun moved to a bigger rented office in Morgan Hill’s Warren Building. And as a loyal Republican, Edes grew prominent in the Bay Area region as a voice of political influence.
In May 1897, President William McKinley appointed The Sun’s publisher to serve as Morgan Hill’s postmaster. The position earned him a salary of $60 a month.
But two years later, The Sun faced serious competition from a brand-new local weekly newspaper in Morgan Hill. Seeing the opportunity in the rapidly growing community, on June 7, 1899, business partners W.G. Bohannon and I.B. Briscoe started publishing The Times.
The Times contained 12 pages of news compared to The Sun’s four. It also focused on county, state and world articles rather than The Sun’s local anecdotes and jokes. Its larger size and higher quality of journalism helped it grow rapidly in readership to more than 1,000 subscribers, thereby seeping advertisement revenue away from The Sun.
Perhaps seeing his newspaper publishing days numbered, on Feb. 1, 1901, Edes sold The Sun to George Lynch, a local businessman. He focused on his rural postal routes until 1905, then retired and moved to Oakland where he ran a small printing shop. He died several years later.
“George Edes was a man of character, considered a progressive for his time and a molding community force,” Balkovek wrote. “He was the last of the Edes family to carry the pen of journalism and work the printer’s press. Both his sons sought other fields of endeavor.”
THE CENTENNIAL SERIES
This Tuesday, the Morgan Hill Times
continues its centennial coverage taking a
look at the historical events, places and
people that played a major role in the
incorporation of Morgan Hill Nov. 10, 1906.
The series’ schedule:
Tuesday, Aug. 14: Martin Murphy, Sr.
Tuesday, Aug. 21: Mutsun Ohlone Indians
Tuesday, Aug. 28: Daniel Murphy
Tuesday, Sept. 5: Catherine O’Toole
Tuesday, Sept. 12: Charles Kellogg
Tuesday, Sept. 19: Senor Juan Maria
Tuesday, Sept. 26: Swedish Royalty
Gustav and Louise Adolph
Tuesday, Oct. 3: Sada Sutcliffe Coe
Tuesday, Oct. 10: George A. Edes, founder
of Morgan Hill Times