by Craig Springer
Any reader of area history is familiar with this phrase, or a derivation: "It had 7,000 people, 22 saloons, 14 grocers, and three newspapers." We speak of Kingston. Ghost Towns and Mining Camps by James and Barbara Sherman, exemplifies the snapshot ghost town profiles that pack in the interesting and arcane fun facts of a rip-roaring past in a small printed space. The Shermans even name the three periodicals. Theirs is the story twice-told. But we're not telling it again here, because the Shermans had it wrong: Kingston had 10 newspapers!
Meet the Kingston press by order of appearance--and disappearance. Also included in this list is the frequency of publication. This is thanks in large part to the University of New Mexico Press book, The Territorial Press of New Mexico, by Porter Stratton.
While prospectors were scratching around on the east face of the Black Range as early as the late 1870s, industry had picked up by 1880. In September 1882, the town of Kingston was platted. The boom was on. According to one early observer, writing for the Engineering and Mining Journal who was there in November 1882, a printing press had already lumbered into town. That press seems probable to have belonged to this first Kingston newspaper on our list.
January - October 1883. Weekly. Tribune. Moved to Deming.
January - November 1884. Weekly. Clipper. Renamed the Sierra County Advocate.
November 1884 - March 1885. Weekly. Sierra County Advocate. Moved to Hillsboro March 1885.
April 1885 - March 1886. No publications per Stratton.
April - July 1886. Weekly. Percha Shaft. Merged with Ledge summer 1886.
July 1886. Daily. Ledge. Merged with Percha Shaft summer 1886.
July - December 1886. Weekly. Percha Shaft and Ledge. Became Daily Shaft.
December 1886 - March 1887. Daily. Daily Shaft. Became Weekly Shaft.
December 1886 - February 1887. Weekly. Black Range Herald. Combined with Sierra County Advocate.
Fall of 1888. Weekly. Sierra County Democrat. An election campaign publication.
March 1887 - December 1893. Weekly. Weekly Shaft. Moved to Rincon.
Newspapers came and went in Kingston. Based on Stratton, 10 newspapers called Kingston home but never did any of them compete with one another for any length. Only one periodical had any lasting life, the Weekly Shaft. It too found its end as did much of the boom town with the Panic of 1893.
Comparably, in the same time period (1883 - 1893) Albuquerque with a population of 3,785 in 1890 had 16 daily and weekly English-only newspapers, according to Stratton, many competing with one another for readers. Also it's worth noting that during the oft-reported heyday of Kingston, c. 1885 - 86 where some writers say Kingston reached its peak population, that no newspaper published in Kingston for an entire 12 months.
It begs the question, what was different with Kingston? Did Stratton miss something? Email or comment with your ideas.