Opie L. Warner

Opie L. Warner as pictured in the San Bernardino High School yearbook of about 1887.

Last time we reviewed the history of Highland's first newspaper, the Highland Citrus Belt. Established by J.M. Martin, the first edition was published on Oct. 6, 1892.

After ten years, Martin sold the paper to Opie L. Warner and Edward Wall, "experienced pencil pushers." The purchase only included the "good will of the paper," as the paper was printed in Colton.

Mr. Warner and Mr. Wall changed all that, starting with the name of the paper.

May 15, 1902, the Highland Messenger made its debut. The fledgling paper was described as a six column folio.

A "newspaper plant" was installed in a building on Pacific Avenue near the corner of Palm Avenue. A press of some type was installed, and the little newspaper became fully a Highland paper.

The printing press was still not the one donated to the Historical Society, as the donated press is from about 1920. However, a Feb. 6, 1906 Sun article recounts the addition of a Whitlock cylinder press.

The Messenger continued as a champion for the Highland District "spreading broadcast each week the news of the locality, praising its advantages, and probably as much as any other combination of interests has been responsible for the building up of the community, a conservative course at all times marking its history."

Opie Leander Warner was born in Arkansas on June 1, 1879. By 1900, he was occupied as a printer. The family came to California between 1884 and 1888.

Opie married Lucia Hazel and they had two children: Walter A. and Eugenia C. Warner.

In 1902, in addition to starting a newspaper, Mr. Warner ran for Highland Constable on the democratic ticket against W.T. Motherspaw (Republican) and John Ward of the Populist Party. Motherspaw won the election.

Opie Warner died in Menlo Park, San Mateo, California on April 25, 1952.

Edward Wall was a native Californian born to Ballard Mitchell and Celia Elizabeth Warner on June 29, 1873.

"Eddie" was a member of the San Bernardino High School class of 1897. After graduation he joined the staff of the Sun newspaper. Later he went north where he worked for the Berkeley Gazette and the San Francisco Chronicle.

Wall returned to San Bernardino in 1902 to join his friend Opie L. Warner in running the Highland Messenger.

Mr. Wall was the paper's business manager, placing the paper on solid financial ground.

In 1914, Edward Warner was elected and re-elected as Justice of the Peace. It was while holding this office that he passed away on Sept. 22, 1921.

In 1908, the paper once again changed hands. Opie Warner and Edward Wall sold to W.E. Westland.

We will continue next week with the next chapter in the chronicle of the Highland Messenger under the direction of W.E. Westland. We will also keep looking for the time our printing press came into use.

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