Editors of Tribune and Telegram

This page will be a work in progress as biographic information is put together on the over 140 year history of the newspapers that are the ancestors of today’s San Luis Obispo County Tribune.

August 7, 1869

Walter Murray, Tribune founding editor. Photo courtesy the San Luis Obispo County History Center

Walter Murray founded The Tribune to advance his legal career and to provide a Republican alternative to the Pioneer, a Democratic paper founded by, Rome Vickers and the first newspaper in the county first published on January 4, 1868.
Though the Tribune was operated under the nameplate of H.S. Rembaugh and Co. it was later revealed that the driving force in the and Co. was Murray. In a small town it was likely an open secret. The Tribune would become the oldest continuously operating business in the county, the Pioneer would be out of business shortly. The Tribune‘s founder was born in England where he had some legal training as a youth. In America he had a career that included soldier of fortune, gold panner, vigilante, state assemblyman, newspaper founder, postmaster, lawyer, District Attorney and eventually judge. He could speak Spanish, married a woman of Spanish ancestry and the first issues of The Tribune had columns in Spanish. Murray wanted to pursue election as judge and the demands of owning a weekly newspaper was a job he was willing to give up.

James J. Ayers

October 7, 1871
James J. Ayers buys the Tribune. The veteran newspaperman had panned California gold and founded a newspaper in the gold country like Murray. He also founded and named the San Francisco Morning Call and two other newspapers in the west. Unlike Murray he was a Democrat and this may have lead to friction and a short tenure.

January 6, 1872
The weekly misses an issue then returns under the ownership of Murray. The ownership transition was not orderly and the paper was apologetic blaming the missed issue on heavy rains.

Horatio Southgate Rembaugh, was the public face of the Tribune when it was founded in 1869. The photo is circa 1910. Photo courtesy Stacy McKitrick.

April 20, 1872
Murray gets out of the newspaper business for good selling to his printer, Horatio Southgate Rembaugh. Murry publishes a “valedictory” editorial and Rembaugh writes the “salutatory” in the same issue revealing the true ownership to all. The Tribune had outlasted two competitors, the Pioneer and the Democratic Standard.

Horatio Southgate Rembaugh was associated with the Tribune for most of its first eight years. First as the public face of the paper, then as editor-owner and finally bringing in partner O.F. Thornton as editor. A printer, Civil War cavalry veteran and rail road man, Rembaugh arrived in San Luis Obispo about a month before the first edition of the Tribune was published August 7, 1869. He would build the business into a going concern and outlast two competing journals. By June 23, 1877 Rembaugh would leave the relentless work of publishing a newspaper and sell his remaining share of the Tribune to Jacob K. Tuley and W.W. Waters who maintained the partnership with O.F. Thorton. Rembaugh married a woman from San Luis Obispo and hoped to live the life of a horse baron. When that business failed to provide for a growing family he moved to the Bay area and made a living as a printer.

George Breck Staniford - Photo courtesy King David's Masonic Lodge of San Luis Obispo.

George Breck Staniford – Photo courtesy King David’s Masonic Lodge of San Luis Obispo.

Nov. 9, 1878-Jan. 19, 1883
George Breck Staniford trained as a youth in printing and served in the Civil War, including the bloodiest single day in American military history, Antietam. His leadership skill would take him from enlistment as a private to second lieutenant.
After the war he made his way to the East Bay area where he worked at the San Leandro Gazette and in 1875 founded the Oakland Tribune.
He moved His partners were Jacob K. Tuley and W.W. Waters.
Staniford replaced spurned editor O.F. Thorton. Later Waters would also leave the firm and Jan. 19, 1883 Staniford and Tuley would sell to Myron Angel and Charles Maxwell.
After Staniford sold the Tribune he found it hard to give up journalism and became editor of the Breeze a position he would hold along with managing the Wells Fargo express office until his death at age 65 in 1903. Three of his pallbearers were editor or former editors of The Tribune, Benjamin Brooks, Angel and Tuley. He would be the second editor buried in San Luis Obispo.

September 25, 1885-October 24, 1925

Benjamin Brooks

Benjamin Brooks joined the Tribune as part owner and business manager. When he bought out his partner he would become the longest tenured editor/owner and the last to sell to the ownership that would combine the major newspapers under one umbrella. When the lawyer arrived the population of the county was about 3,000 souls and financial health of the newspaper was in question. The biggest business boast the town could make was a 4-year-old narrow-gauge connection to Port San Harford [Port San Luis]. Roads in town were dirt and the fastest way out of town was by steam ship. Brooks took the paper from an anemic weekly to solid financial footing and eventually to daily status, publishing mornings Tuesday through Sunday. It wasn’t the first daily newspaper but it was the first successful one. When he retired he had been witness to the sewer, automobile, telephone, Southern Pacific Railroad, highways and big oil all coming to town. He had been a booster of many of the improvements and was a leader in the Republican party, Elks Club and Masonic Lodge.