Littleton Newspapers

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Joseph A. Hammer, publisher of the Littleton Independent from 1892-1900 with Edwin A. Bemis 1896
Joseph A. Hammer (seated) publisher of the Littleton Independent from 1892-1900 and Edwin A. Bemis, c.1896.

Have you ever heard of the Rocky Mountain Reveille, the New News, the Littleton Coloradoan or the Arapahoe Volunteer? These are just four of the nineteen different newspapers which have been published in Littleton during the past century and more. Somewhat ironically, Littleton's first newspaper is the only one to survive.

The date was July 21, 1888 when the first newspaper came off a Washington hand press in the basement of the old Harwood Inn. Owner and editor H.V. Bullock had purchased $900 worth of printing equipment to give the town its first issue of 500 copies of what was called the Littleton Gazette. Townspeople hailed the event and "rejoiced over the advent of a publication that would tell the world of the glories of this fertile valley." The "weekly" continued under three different owners until 1891, when new owners changed the name to the Littleton Independent which, through a winding but unbroken series of owners and name changes, is still with us today.

Littleton Independent front office. Edwin A. Bemis, publisher; Lorene Shearer, society editor; Houstoun Waring, editor 1938
Luther H. Bemis at the job press of the Littleton Independent, c.1898.

Here follows a chronological outline of the publications and names that have come and gone. Some survived decades, some a few months. All of them were weeklies, except for the one notation. Many of them are available to view on microfilm at either the Denver Public Library or the Colorado Historical Society:

  • Littleton Gazette—1888 to 1891. Beginning with the issue of March 14, 1891, under the editorship of C.W. Stewart, the name of the paper was changed to the Littleton Independent. The name Independent was carried until the issue of June 18, 1892, when the editor changed the name to Littleton Republican.
  • Littleton Republican—begun in 1892 and ceased in 1893.
  • Rocky Mountain Reveille—begun in 1899 in the town of Critchell; moved to Littleton in 1900; moved to Englewood in 1905 and out of business in 1906.
  • Arapahoe Herald and South Arapahoe Herald —begun in 1902, name changed to...
  • Arapahoe Herald—in 1903; purchased and merged with the Independent in 1918.
  • Arapahoe Republican—1906 to 1910.
  • Arapahoe Volunteer—1910 to 1911.
  • Littleton Independent and Arapahoe Herald— 1918 merger of the two main papers.
  • Littleton Independent and Littleton Booster—during 10 months in 1936-37 the Independent carried this banner.
  • Littleton Independent Luther Bemis at the press 1898
    In the front office of the Littleton Independent at 223 W. Main Street. Left to right: Edwin A. Bemis, publisher; Lorene Shearer, society editor; Houstoun Waring, editor, c.1938.
    Littleton Independent—1937; this banner, dropping both "Booster" and "Herald", was used until 1982.
  • New News—published for about the last six months of 1948, then changed to the...
  • New Views—a monthly, which lasted exactly three months.
  • Arapahoe Herald—in 1956, a completely different "Herald" was started, much to the chagrin of the owners of the previous "Herald", the Independent. The new Herald published until 1974.
  • Littleton Coloradoan—1957 to 1958.
  • Arapahoe Tribune—1962 to 1964.
  • Littleton's Arapahoe Herald—a spinoff of the Littleton Independent, it had a curiously similar name to their competition; stopped publication in 1972.
  • Columbine Independent—a second spinoff by the Independent in 1973 aimed primarily at people living west of town.
  • Independent—The Littleton Independent is purchased by Sentinel Publishing in 1982, changing the name again to...
  • Littleton Sentinel Independent—in 1986.
  • Littleton Independent—Sold by Sentinel in 1991, the name is changed back to the one familiar with most area residents and is still publishing today. The Independent is one of 24 weekly community newspapers in the Colorado Community Media family. On May 3, 2021, it was announced that Jerry and Ann Healey, the couple who had owned and developed Colorado Community Media over the past decade, had sold the network of papers to a joint partnership between the National Trust for Local News, or NTLN, and The Colorado Sun, a statewide news outlet founded and run by former Denver Post journalists.

Littleton Independent Staff 1948
Staff of the Littleton Independent, 1948.

For most residents of Littleton, "newspaper" is synonymous with Independent, in whichever of its forms and banners, and with longtime publisher Edwin A. Bemis and longtime editor Houstoun Waring. Bemis purchased the paper in 1919 and the Bemis family owned it for 63 years. Ed Bemis described his first day at the Independent as follows: "On the first day of January, 1919, I walked into the front door of the Littleton Independent as editor, manager, newspaper reporter, society reporter, bookkeeper, advertising manager, commercial printing salesman and estimator, public relations director, bill collector, and if you can think of anything more I had to do then, I should like to know about it now. I had one man working for me in the back room who had to set up all of the type...make up the paper...and take care of that side of the business." In 1926, Ed hired the wet-behind-the ears University of Colorado journalism graduate Houstoun, made him editor a year later and a year after that took him as a partner. Though Waring semi-retired in 1966 and passed away in 1997, discussions of the Littleton community and "Hous" Waring will be nearly inseparable for years to come.

 

Bibliography

Bemis, Edwin A.  Historical Notes. Littleton, Colorado. Date unknown.

Littleton Independent. Littleton Independent Publishers, 1888- .

Littleton Museum. Photographic Archives.

____. Vertical File: "Newspapers".

McQuarie, Robert J. and C.W. Buchholtz. Littleton, Colorado: Settlement to Centennial. Littleton: Littleton Historical Museum and Friends of the Library and Museum, 1990.

Oehlerts, Donald E. Guide to Colorado Newspapers, 1859-1963. Denver: Bibliographical Center for Research, Rocky Mountain Region, 1964.

Photographs courtesy of the Littleton Museum, unless otherwise noted; to order copies, contact the Museum at 303-795-3950.

 

Compiled by Pat Massengill

Updated May 2021 by Phyllis Larison