Amos Earle Voorhies
Born: June 6, 1869, Greenville MI
Died: October 27, 1960, Grants Pass OR
Rogue River Courier/Grants Pass Courier, Grants Pass OR, 1897-1960
Oregon Observer, Grants Pass OR, 1895
Portland Daily Sun, Portland OR, 1891-1895
Greenville Independent, Greenville MI, 1888
Amos Earle Voorhies was born on a farm six miles from Greenville, Michigan on June 6, 1869. His father moved to Greenville to operate a furniture store and, later, an undertaking establishment. Amos attended grade and high school in Greenville and, after graduating from high school in 1888, he was employed without pay for six months in the office of the Greenville Independent.
Young Voorhies came west to Portland in 1891 and worked in a number of printing trade jobs. During the hard times of the early 1890s, he secured a position as compositor on the Portland Daily Sun, a co-operative morning newspaper started by unemployed newspapermen. Because of his innate business abilities, Voorhies was selected from the staff to help to clean up the Sun's business affairs after the failure.
In August of 1895 Voorhies came to Grants Pass as foreman of the Oregon Observer. The following July, Voorhies returned to Greenville to claim as his bride Clara Emma Graybill, daughter of the publisher of the Greenville Independent on which he had served his apprenticeship.
Business in Grants Pass became slack near the end of the year and Voorhies found himself unemployed. He was about ready to ride his bicycle to Portland to look for work when four local businessmen suggested that he buy the Rogue River Courier. They offered to back his note for $400 for half the purchase price and suggested he might get C.S. Price, former principal of the high school, to be his partner.
Since Price had moved to Ashland, Voorhies rode his bicycle 40 miles over the old stage coach road to talk to Price and was successful in selling him on the idea. They took over the paper in July of 1897. Two years later, Price decided to return to teaching and sold his interest in the paper to Voorhies, who continued as publisher until sharing the title in 1947 with his son Earle.
Voorhies always equipped his newspaper plant with latest equipment and in 1910 began publishing a daily edition as well as the weekly. The Courier began using wire news that same year, stating that Grants Pass was the smallest city in the world with a leased wire.
Voorhies' first wife died in October of 1910. On July 8, 1926 he married Lulu Benedict. On October 18, 1960, at age 91, Amos Voorhies suffered a stroke while sweeping leaves at home after a morning's work at the Courier. He died nine days later.
Voorhies served as president of both the Oregon Press Conference (1937) and the Oregon Newspaper Editorial Association. He was the first living recipient of the Oregon Newspaper Roll of Honor, established in 1938 by the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association in recognition of Amos E. Voorhies' semi-centennial in Oregon journalism.
He was also a member of the California Publishers Association and the National Publishers Association.
Voorhies became associated with William Smullin in establishing the first radio station in Grants Pass in 1939. The same combination later opened Oregon's first VHF television station in Medford.
A large part of the publisher's effort was devoted to research and perpetuation of Southern Oregon history. In 1927 the Courier published a history of the county and the mining industry. In 1935 a special historical edition was published in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Courier. So complete was the edition that it won second prize in the NEA special edition contest for 1935. After resigning active management of the paper, Voorhies supervised the publication of a diamond anniversary edition on April 3, 1960.