Mendocino Beacon Debuts

Studio portrait of William Heeser taken in his later years, c. 1890. (Kelley House Collection, Kelley House Photographs)

October 6, 1877 – The first issue of the Mendocino Beacon was published. William Heeser bought out the West Coast Star and all of its equipment from M. J. C. Galvin and hired W. H. Meachem as the first Beacon editor. Subscription rates were $3 per year.

Meachem explained the newspaper’s name in his first editorial, “The Beacon by its friendly light warns the mariner of the dangers of the coast, and serves to guide him safely into a harbor; and so it is, or should be, the function of the newspaper to shed abroad the beams of intelligence, and to honestly and fearlessly point out the evils of social and political life, which are the shoals and reefs which endanger and often wreck the bright prospects of individuals as well as of communities; and to show how they can be avoided, and how the goal of public prosperity and individual happiness can best be reached.”

Meachem didn’t last long. The following June, Heeser became the sole editor of the Beacon. In “History of Mendocino County, 1880,” Lyman L. Palmer described Heeser’s successful newspaper, “It is independent in politics, and devoted entirely to local matters, and the large circulation of eight hundred attests how highly it is appreciated on the coast and all over the entire extent of Mendocino county. Mr. Heeser always takes great pride in the success and welfare of any enterprise he undertakes, and in none has he displayed a greater interest than this, and, knowing that the reception which the readers would accord to it would depend entirely upon its editorial management, he has always employed the best available talent to assist him in conducting its columns.”

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