Looking Back: Edmonds newspaper history and a very controversial editor

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    The Edmonds Tribune office.

    In 1890 when the Edmonds Chronicle, the first newspaper in the newly incorporated city, began publication, residents of the small town of Edmonds began a love affair with the news. Due to hard times, a fire and more tough economic times, the publication of the Chronicle was sporadic and the paper closed in late 1892. However, it wasn’t long before another newspaper, the Edmonds Lyre, took its place in 1893. The Lyre soon became another victim of hard times and in 1896 the publisher moved his plant to Everett. Edmonds had to wait eight years before another newspaper, the Edmonds Review, began publication in 1904.

    The story of the newspapers in Edmonds became more interesting in 1907 when yet another publication came to town. The Edmonds Tribune began publication in competition with the already established Edmonds Review. The following year newspaper business became even livelier when a new owner/editor took over the Edmonds Tribune. This editor was a man whose very presence seemed to create conflict. His full name was Thorwald Adolf Arthur Siegfriedt. In business he preferred to be known as T. A. A. Siegfriedt. Although Mr. Siegfriedt became the owner and editor of a newspaper, he was also an attorney—perhaps that explains what at times seemed to be an adversarial manner.

    When over a century ago Seattle attorney T. A. A. Siegfriedt arrived in Edmonds to set up his law and real estate office, and also to become the owner and editor of the Edmonds Tribune, he seemed destined to inspire controversy and dislike with a group of the more established residents of the town. After what became a short and unwelcome stay, his return to Seattle may have prompted some of the people of Edmonds to say good-bye and good riddance.

    A few years ago when I became aware of Mr. Siegfriedt’s extremely short stint as the publisher and editor of the Edmonds Tribune, I was prompted to scrutinize him more closely. What really sealed my interest was the information that a likeness of him had been hung in effigy in the middle of downtown Edmonds for all to see. On a more personal note, I came to feel just a bit sorry for Mr. Siegfriedt.  He seemed to be in the wrong town in both Edmonds and Seattle. Mr. Siegfriedt was an extreme conservative in what appeared to be a liberal part of the country.

    The early years

    Thorwald Siegfriedt was born in Davenport, Scott County, Iowa on March 22, 1881, the son of John L. and Josephine Siegfriedt. His father was a member of the Davenport, Iowa city police department and an older brother became a doctor in Montana. By 1904, Thorwald Siegfriedt had left his home in Iowa and was living in Seattle.  Later, with his wife Lou-Vee and infant daughter, he moved to Edmonds and began his law practice in the State Bank Building. In May of 1908, he purchased The Edmonds Tribune from its two founding proprietors Will H. Taylor and a Mr. Bealle. Edmonds was still a small town with a population of approximately 1,500 people and it seemed natural that the two newspapers would become competitors. Also, to make the situation more interesting, the Edmonds Review was different from most newspapers of that time—it was owned and edited by a woman—Mrs. Missouri Hanna.

    Missouri Hanna, a widow, was a strong women, and also outspoken and popular in a leadership role in this state’s women’s suffrage movement. Immediately following Thorwald Siegfriedt’s purchase of the rival paper in 1908, Mrs. Hanna seemed to “throw down the gauntlet” and to take a “me first” stand regarding her newspaper. The advertisement for her newspaper stated that the Review was a bright, clean newspaper, published along liberal lines; and it was then stressed that the Review was “the only permanent newspaper in Edmonds.”

    Conversely, Mr. Siegfriedt was a conservative. As he put forth, he was also a strong advocate for law and order. In his opening editorial on May 7, 1908, he stated that it would be The Edmonds Tribune’s purpose to avoid animosity, never to compromise with crime, injustice or deceit, and to do everything within the newspaper’s power to make Edmonds an ideal residential community. His editorial did not appear to be one to incite animosity—so what happened?

    Actually, Editor Siegfriedt was probably correct in noting that Edmonds could use more law and order. During this first decade of the 20th century, Edmonds was still a little on the wild side—after all, it was a town whose main industry was lumber as represented by the plethora of shingle mills along its waterfront. As expected with a number of unmarried men employed in the mills, there were several saloons in town. Often, fights broke out in the city’s streets— occasionally involving gun fire. In fact, in September of 1908 gun fire near George (Main) and First Streets on a Sunday evening resulted in what was called the accidental death of an innocent resident of Edmonds. In his editorial, Mr. Siegfriedt attributed the shooting to the sale of liquor on Sundays, as well as the inebriated condition of the shooter.   Two years after this tragedy, law and order did prevail as Edmonds went dry and closed its saloons in 1910. However, this event seemed to have been more a result of actions taken by the women of the town, rather than by the law and order advocacy of Thorwald Siegfriedt.

    Mr. Siegfriedt’s newspaper office was located in a building owned by James Brady, who was the mayor of Edmonds and a very popular man about town. These two men would soon become adversaries.  Located on the northwest corner of Fourth and George Streets in Edmonds, the newspaper building was directly across George (Main) Street from Mr. Siegfriedt’s law office in the State Bank Building.

    Critical and unpopular opinions

    During the five months when Thorwald Siegfriedt was the owner and editor of the Edmonds Tribune, his articles and editorials did tend to be critical; not only of happenings in Edmonds, but elsewhere as well. In some editorials and articles he found fault with Seattle citizens who visited Edmonds and drove recklessly through the town in their automobiles.  He evidently did not include the local residents since no one in Edmonds owned an automobile at that time. His complaint seemed to have had its beginning when one day while out riding in his buggy his horse became agitated while passing the wreckage of an automobile near the Odd Fellows Cemetery on Ninth Street (this is now the Edmonds Memorial Cemetery, near Westgate). The incident caused Mr. Siegfriedt’s buggy to overturn. As an irate citizen as well as editor of the Tribune, he published a long and rambling article on the hazards of joyriding in automobiles around Seattle and the local area. Along with a wealth of words, he added the puzzling and seemingly irrelevant suggestion that perhaps Edmonds should have such a law as they had in San Francisco, where unchaperoned girls were prohibited from riding with a companion in an automobile after dark.

    Mr. Siegfriedt’s short and contentious tenure as editor of the Edmonds Tribune may have been caused by his somewhat pompous attitude and also certain unpopular opinions. Some residents did express the idea that especially as a newcomer to the city he should keep those opinions to himself. One rather audacious idea suggested by him did seem to fall flat. This idea was put forth in a July 1908 publication of his newspaper and was not well received. Mr. Siegfriedt did not approve of Edmonds as an appropriate name for the city, and he thus suggested that a new name should be adopted. He offered a prize of $25 to any person who could suggest a better name. If he received a positive response, it was not officially noted.

    By Oct.1, 1908, Thorwald Siegfriedt had “thrown in the towel” and given up his editorship. He sold the newspaper to long-time Edmonds merchant and banker William H. Schumacher. Following his short newspaper career, Mr. Siegfriedt continued practicing law and working as a real estate developer from his office in the State Bank Building. He owned or had interest in several properties in Edmonds, and also owned 20 acres of land and a house on property located on Louis Arp’s old homestead a few miles east of Edmonds—now part of Lynnwood. He continued his support of the Law and Order League in Edmonds and was often critical of the Citizens’ Committee which included popular Edmonds’ men, Zophar Howell III, Mayor James Brady, Gus Larson and F. H. Parker. The Citizen’s Committee was supported by Editor Missouri Hanna and her newspaper. Mr. Siegfriedt didn’t gain any points with Mrs. Hanna or other Edmonds’ people when he opposed and was extremely critical of the well-liked James Brady when Mr. Brady was pitted against Louis Arp for another term as mayor of Edmonds in November of 1908.

    On Nov. 7, Mrs. Hanna in her editorial was equally critical of Thorwald Siegfriedt and what she considered his objectionable tactics; although she did not mention Siegfriedt by name. Ending her editorial regarding the faults of this unnamed person, she mysteriously called him a non-resident disturber. On Nov. 11, William Schumacher’s Edmonds Tribune published a scathing letter written by a very disturbed Thorwald Siegfriedt. The letter especially attacked Zophar Howell III, Mayor Brady and the Edmonds Review. What seemed to especially upset Mr. Siegfriedt was that Zophar Howell had suggested, in public, that he should be run out of town. Then, according to Lawyer Siegfriedt, under cover of darkness that night, while the city marshal was supposed to be patrolling the town, someone had suspended an effigy of Mr. Siegfriedt over the middle of the main street of Edmonds—in full view of all the town folks. He was very vocal about the fact that the gruesome spectacle remained hanging before the public until much later the following day when some indignant citizens finally removed it. In his lengthy letter, Mr. Siegfriedt took exception to Missouri Hanna’s unflattering personal comments about him in her newspaper, and also for publishing the comment by the Citizen’s Committee that “A certain outsider should be eliminated.”

    It was William Schumacher who actually came out the loser in this battle between Mr. Siegfriedt and the Citizens’ Committee, even though Schumacher’s only involvement in the whole mess came from his taking over as editor of the newspaper and innocently printing a letter written by Mr. Siegfriedt who was a paying customer. Immediately following the letter’s appearance in the Tribune, Editor Schumacher received a three-day notice to vacate the building or his rent would be increased so much he would be forced to vacate. This notice, of course, came from his landlords, Mayor and Mrs. James Brady. Luckily, Mr. Schumacher did have many friends who came to his aid. His office furniture and printing equipment were moved and stored in different places around town. A friend donated property located on the south side of George Street between Third and Fourth Streets, and with the help of friends, a new building to house The Edmonds Tribune was completed within the week. In fact, the Tribune never missed publishing a single issue. The building was located where the parking lot of the Bank of America is today—on Main Street, just west of the present-day Chanterelle’s restaurant. This was the home of the newspaper until 1938 when it was replaced by a larger and more modern structure at 514 Main Street in Edmonds.

    Looking back to the duel of words in 1908, and Mrs. Hanna’s strange reference to Thorwald Siegfriedt as a non-resident—the Siegfriedt family did have a home in Edmonds, a fact shown by an event which happened on Saturday, June 6, 1908. Actually, the event was called the highlight of Mr. Siegfriedts’ career as a newspaper editor, and Mrs. Hanna was credited as the person who did the planning for the event.   On that date the Snohomish County Press Association held a meeting in Edmonds. It was written that 11 county newspaper people disembarked from the steamer from Everett and then went to the Siegfriedt home where they enjoyed a chicken dinner under the shade trees on the lawn. Even a photo of the gathering was published in the Edmonds Tribune.

    Newspaper business beset ‘by diversity of difficulities’

    To further look back on the discord of having rival newspapers in one small town, Ray Cloud, the longtime editor of the Edmonds Tribune-Review, in his 1953 book “Edmonds: The Gem of Puget Sound” wrote that William Schumacher later commented editorially that “the newspaper business, while one of the most fascinating of careers, also proved one beset by the greatest diversity of difficulties.” When he made this observation, Mr. Schumacher may have been recalling the difficulties he was forced to endure when he took the helm of the paper following the rough days of his predecessor.

    Feb.10, 1910 ushered in more peaceful times for the newspaper business in Edmonds when the rivalry between the two diverse newspapers ended. Missouri Hanna’s Edmonds Review was sold to William Schumacher and the two newspapers merged—renamed the Tribune-Review.

    Another unexpected change came in September of 1910 when Thorwald Siegfriedt surrendered to the innovations of modern-day America and purchased an automobile of his own. He chose a just-off-the-line luxury motor car—a 1911 Mitchell.

    By mid-1910, Mr. and Mrs. Siegfriedt and their children were residents of Seattle, and he had resumed his law practice in the big city.  With this move, and for reasons unknown, Mr. Siegfriedt dropped the letter T from the end of his name and set up his law practice as T. A. A. Siegfried. In 1912 his office was located in the Northern Bank Building in Seattle, and he was handling a legal matter for Dan Yost of Edmonds. Mr. Yost, the son of Edmonds pioneer matriarch Amanda Yost, was the administrator for the estate of a deceased Edmonds man Louis Lorenz. Mr. Yost was suing Edmonds residents: Russell Mowat, Sam Black, Etta E. Brackett, John Doe Brackett, Hanna Lorenz, Eleanor E. Sweet, and Amanda C. Yost.

    Whether or not Thorwald Siegfried had any success during the next few years in Seattle is not known as nothing positive was found. In fact the opposite was true—in October of 1913, while representing a group of free socialists in a legal case before a judge in Seattle, he found himself involved in a lengthy and nationally publicized disagreement with the said judge, and also threatened with being jailed for contempt of court. In November of 1918, he failed in a bid for election as State Senator in Seattle’s 37th District. Sometime later, Mr. Siegfried and his family left Seattle behind and moved to California; and in 1924, his wife Lou-Vee divorced him.

    Thorwald Siegfried resided in Ventura, California and soon remarried. He continued practicing law; then in 1931, he wrote a book on economics. Recently, a used paperback copy of his book “The Siegfried Plan” was listed for sale on Amazon for $75. Thorwald Siegfried’s book is advertised on the Online Books Page with the statement: The Siegfried plan is a demonstration that Congress can cure unemployment, bank failures, business depression, and enlarge the volume of money and credit, by exercising its constitutional power to regulate the value of money. The Siegfried plan was no doubt his own solution to the monetary problems encountered during the Great Depression of the 1930s.

    Thorwald Adolf Arthur Siegfried died Dec. 20, 1945 in Los Angeles, California—he was 65 years old.  His adversary, Mayor James Brady did not fare as well; in 1912 he became the victim in a spectacular murder and suicide tragedy.

    One of Mr. Siegfried’s five children from his first marriage, a daughter, Nan Doughty (1907-1987) had a long and extremely successful career as an artist, author and educator.   A collection of her work is archived at the University of Las Vegas in Nevada.

    Through the years as Edmonds and the adjacent communities grew so did the readership of the Edmonds Tribune-Review and in 1961 the newspaper moved to larger accommodations at 130 Second Ave. S. (Second and James) in Edmonds. This building remained the home of the Tribune-Review until shortly following 1981 when the newspaper’s presses were silenced and a bit of Edmonds history came to an end.

    The pictures and much of the information for this history were found in the priceless collection of Edmonds newspapers located at Sno-Isle Genealogical Society, Heritage Park, Lynnwood, Washington.

    — By Betty Lou Gaeng

    Betty Lou Gaeng is a long-time resident of Lynnwood and Edmonds, coming to the area in 1933. She researches and writes about the history and the people of both early-day Lynnwood and Edmonds.

    9 COMMENTS

    1. Probably the same thing would happen now. I wish our newspapers would be controversial. It would add to any paper. People need to be challenged by a newspaper. (Not just other people writing in). The world is controversial. Not always just one view. I guess you have to be or no one would place an ad.

    2. Thank you for the interesting history regarding the Edmonds Tribune and Mr. Siegfried. After the building he occupied (west of Chanterelle’s restaurant) it later became owned by the Frederickson’s
      who owned Frederickson Realty & Insurance. Than they sold to what was than The National Bank of Commererce and became Rainier Bank ( now Bank of America) to extend the parking lot.
      You may want to research Mrs Frederickson. When i began my real estate career in downtown Edmonds in 1974 Frederickson Realty was accross the street. She was quite an interesting Edmonds local of the day and had a very loyal following.

    3. Thank you Betty! This is wonderful. I’ve always wondered about the dynamic between Siegfried, Brady and Schumacher, and how Siegfried really came to be hung in effigy over Main Street. And I must confess to being fascinated by the circumstances around Brady’s death. My personal take: the murder-suicide explanation is a smokescreen. There’s too many holes in it. I increasingly suspect that Jim Brady and his wife Margaret were murdered by someone yet to be identified, and Margaret was framed.

      • A lot of us have had our suspicions about the Brady tragedy, Larry. It never did seem quite right and it was very easy to put the blame on poor Margaret Brady. I guess it is something like the Kennedy assassination–something always seemed off kilter. I am thinking about doing a follow up on the Siegfried story referencing Jim Brady. I have an interesting tidbit to add to Brady’s story.

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