|Quick early facts
1859 Prospectors in the Gold Canyon establish a camp at the head of the canyon and call it Gold Hill
Gold Hill Daily News title changes
1863-1882 Gold Hill Daily News
*No title changes occurred during the newspaper lifecycle
History of the newspaper Gold Hill Daily News
Gold Hill, Nevada, was one of the first settlements in the Comstock mining district after the discovery of a rich deposit of free gold on a hill above Gold Canyon in January 1859. Soon, silver supplanted gold in yield throughout the Comstock, and Virginia City quickly overshadowed Gold Hill in size and sophistication. The population of Gold Hill reached 8,000 at its peak, primarily working-class residents, including many Cornish miners.
On October 12, 1863, the Gold Hill Daily News was established as a Republican newspaper by Philip Lynch and his stepson John H. Mundall, former publishers of the Placer Courier in Forest Hill, California. They hired as their editor Hiram R. Hawkins, an acquaintance and fellow publisher. When Hawkins left in 1865, Lynch bought out Mundall, becoming the sole editor and publisher. According to the Nevada historian Myron Angel, under Lynch the Gold Hill Daily News gained a reputation as “the best-printed [paper] of any on the Pacific Coast.”
On November 14, 1867, Alf Doten left his job as a local reporter for the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise to become the associate editor and reporter for the Gold Hill Daily News. Doten held that position until Lynch’s death on February 13, 1872. A Nevada journalist who is now best known for his diaries chronicling the daily life of Gold Rush California and the Comstock, Doten laid claim to the position of sole proprietor and editor of the News in the paper’s masthead, securing the title on the paper March 9th when he purchased it from Lynch’s widow for $10,000. That same year John P. Jones, the co-developer of the Crown Point Mine, and William Sharon, a Comstock banker made wealthy through foreclosures on loans through the Bank of California, were vying for the U.S. Senate seat in Nevada held by James Nye. Doten first approached Jones, asking him either to buy the News or to provide him with a loan. When Jones declined, Doten went to his rival Sharon, who agreed to lend him $7,000.
Sharon withdrew withdrew from the Senatorial battle during a contentious campaign. When another seat in the Senate opened up in 1874, he was successful in attaining it. During that campaign Sharon purchased the Territorial Enterprise and fired its longtime editor, Joe Goodman, who had written unfavorable editorials about him in 1872. Although Sharon maintained tight editorial control over the Enterprise, he did not seem to actively exert his influence over the Gold Hill Daily News; however, the newspaper did strongly endorse Sharon and savaged his opponent, Adolph Sutro, in the 1874 race. Comstock newspapers did not claim to be non-partisan.
Wells Drury, who worked as a reporter for the Gold Hill Daily News from 1876 to 1880 wrote in An Editor on the Comstock Lode that Doten bore an honorable part in Nevada journalism: “While he sought to produce a neat and workmanlike sheet, and succeeded admirably, he always recognized the primacy of news in the making of a paper, and did what few proprietors would do these days—that is, cut out column after column of advertisements to make room for good live news.”
Faced with debts, Doten was forced to turn over the ownership of the Gold Hill Daily News to Charles C. Stevenson (doing business as the News Publishing Company) in February 1879. Doten remained the paper’s managing editor until December 1881 when he moved to Austin, Nevada, to edit the Reese River Reveille. On April 8, 1882, the Gold Hill Daily News printed its last issue, with this statement appearing at the head of the editorial column: “Owing to the great depression in business interests of this town, the stagnation of mining industries in the district and unfavorable prospects for the near future, the News Publishing Company has decided to suspend further publication of the Gold Hill Daily News until July next.” July 1882 came and went, and no more issues of the paper were published. The boom times of the Comstock were long gone.