HISTORY OF PASCO COUNTY
The New Port Richey Press
This page was last revised on March 16, 2018.
The Port Richey Press began publication on Nov. 21, 1918. The earliest issue currently in the possession of the West Pasco Historical Society, which is the earliest issue we have seen, is vol. 1, no. 6, from Dec. 26, 1918. The printing press was originally powered by gasoline, as there was no electricity in the town. In 1929, the publisher wrote that Nov. 27 marked the eleventh anniversary of the paper.
The earliest publishers were Charles L. Fox and son Carl, who operated the newspaper for four and one-half years. According to a 1965 newspaper article by Ralph Bellwood, Fox was an Englishman who lived in a small house on the corner of Main and Adams, where the Arcade Building is now. There the type was set by Fox and his son and the paper was printed on an old hand press.
On Aug. 19, 1920, the newspaper reported that its circulation was close to 900, of which 700 were mailed weekly to cities in the north.
On Nov. 4, 1920, the name of the newspaper was changed to the New Port Richey Press.
In September 1922 circulation reached 1300, according to West Pasco’s Heritage.
On Sept. 28, 1922, William M. (Bill) Hetherington of Lakeland purchased the Press and began active publication on Oct. 5. Hetherington had earlier owned the Dade City Banner. He sold that newspaper on Jan. 1, 1920, and then moved to Lakeland and had charge of job printing in the Telegram office until that paper consolidated with the Star.
In December 1925 George G. Holland purchased the paper.
The next owner was John W. Parkes.
On April 9, 1926, the newspaper switched from a tabloid-sized newspaper to a full-sized, seven column newspaper. Several hundred extra copies were printed.
Early in 1932 Parkes sold the newspaper to Benjamin Lyle of Ulysses, Kansas.
On July 13, 1934, the Tarpon Springs Leader reported, “Hugh Osborne, editor for many years of the Umatilla Tribune, last week assumed control of the Press ....” Hugh S. Osborne leased the newspaper for two years before purchasing it in 1936. On Jan. 23, 1953, Hugh S. Osborne died. His widow became publisher and his son Hugh Joseph Osborne became editor-manager.
In November 1956 W. H. Thomas purchased the paper. Thomas was born in Mt. Morris, Ill., on Aug. 16, 1898. He was publisher of the Mt. Morris Index, a weekly newspaper, for 25 years before purchasing the Press. He died on Aug. 7, 1973, in Dunedin.
In the late 1960s the owner was Lindsay-Schaub Publications of Illinois, with Paul P. O’Brien as manager.
The Nov. 11, 1975, issue of the New Port Richey Press shows that George J. Bopp is the general manager and Paul J. Purcell is the editor. The newspaper was published on Mondays and Thursdays by Press Publications, Inc.
The name of the newspaper was subsequently changed to the West Pasco Press.
Notes: The New Port Richey Public Library has bound copies of the newspaper beginning in 1956. The WPHS museum has most papers from 1919 to the mid-1960s.
There are two front pages of the New Port Richey Press carrying the date Dec. 25, 1919.
Some newspapers are apparently lost, including the second half of 1921 and all of 1932 and 1933. Thus, the newspaper covering the 1921 hurricane is lost, and a Jan. 1930 newspaper that must have had a banner headline about the expected visit of Gloria Swanson is also apparently lost.
An earlier newspaper, the New Port Richey Post, was published in 1916. The WPHS has only the first issue, which is dated January 1916. The only issue of the Post in our possession does not show the name of a publisher or editor. There is a reference to the New Port Richey Post in a Michigan newspaper of Dec. 23, 1917. On March 1, 1918, the Tampa Tribune printed a letter signed by “W. B. Powell, Editor, New Port Richey Post.” A newspaper article of Nov. 3, 1916, identifies Powell as publisher of the newspaper and as secretary of the New Port Richey Board of Trade. Willis Berlin Powell earlier founded the St. Petersburg Evening Independent.
Here are some images of early front pages of the newspaper.
Dec. 26, 1918 The earliest issue we have
May 1, 1919 Protest school board action to Governor
Feb. 9, 1922 Chasco Fiesta coming
Oct. 24, 1924 Vote for incorporation. It’s right.
Oct. 31, 1924 Incorporation carries, 201 to 4
Nov. 7, 1924 Phenomenal sales of real estate
Jan. 1, 1926 Famous millionaires buy here
Jan. 15, 1926 Irving Berlin makes first payment for a homesite
Jan. 29, 1926 Elfers wants to merge with New Port Richey
Feb. 26, 1926 Thomas Meighan in town
Apr. 30, 1926 Pasco Building open
May 28, 1926 Enchantment Inn burns
June 25, 1926 New theater to be named for Meighan
Feb. 4, 1927 Hacienda opens Saturday night
Feb. 18, 1927 Jasmin Point’s $300,000 golf club
Apr. 15, 1927 Meighan to build $40,000 home
May 13, 1927 Sarazen to lay out golf course
Aug. 5, 1927 Post Office Arcade completed
Dec. 23, 1927 Meighan and Sarazen arrive for the winter season
Oct. 12, 1928 Meighan will vote here
Oct. 25, 1929 Jasmin Point Golf Course ready
Dec. 6, 1929 Meighan to arrive Dec. 15
Dec. 20, 1929 Meighan arrives in this city
May 2, 1930 The Hacienda closes its finest season
Aug. 29, 1930 Homestead sites free
June 19, 1931 During the depression, First State Bank fails
July 11, 1952 Local bank to open Tuesday