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History of the Yuma Sun

The Yuma Daily Sun was officially born on April 10, 1896, but its history is linked to the Arizona Sentinel, which was the first newspaper in this community.

Politically, the Sentinel claimed to be independent. Its first issue was published March 16, 1872, at a time when this community was still called "Arizona City." There were still fewer than 1,200 residents here at that date. A year later (Feb. 15, 1873) the name of the town was officially changed to Yuma. But the newspaper continued to be named Arizona Sentinel.

In 1915, the Sentinel went through a series of mergers with other papers including the Yuma Examiner and the Yuma Southwest. It became a semi-weekly in 1920, and changed to a daily newspaper the following year. But after three years, it went back to semi-weekly publication.

More mergers followed. It merged with Yuma Valley News and became the Examiner Sentinel News in 1924. It shortened its name to Yuma Examiner in 1925. And the following year it went back to a longer name, calling itself the Yuma Examiner and Arizona Sentinel.

By 1928 the Sentinel and the Examiner had become separate newspapers again and once more, the Sentinel became a daily newspaper. Sometime between 1932 and 1935, the paper was sold to J.F. Gayle, but the Sentinel was facing stiff competition from Yuma's first daily newspaper, the Yuma Morning Sun, and the Great Depression made it difficult for two daily newspapers to survive.

The Sun first saw the light of day on April 10, 1896. Thus, the Sentinel was already 24 years old when The Sun, a weekly, issued every Friday, arrived on the scene. Yuma had a population of approximately 1,600 persons at that time which was about 400 more than when the Sentinel was born.

Founder of The Sun was Mulford Winsor, a 22-year-old printer who had been born and raised in Kansas, the son of a newspaper editor. Winsor founded The Sun with the help of C.L. Brown as the result (so the story goes) of a disagreement with John W. Dorrington, publisher of the Sentinel. Winsor quit work for Dorrington and went into business for himself.

Winsor edited and ran the new weekly newspaper off and on for a period of nine years when he decided Yuma was ready for a daily newspaper. And so on Nov. 15, 1905, it became The Morning Sun — "Yuma's First Daily Newspaper."

It was a Democratic newspaper reflecting the prevailing political feelings of the community. Yuma at that time had a population of about 2,200 people and its future looked bright. The Yuma Valley Project was under construction and it appeared that irrigated agriculture would turn Yuma Valley into "The Nile Valley of America."

Winsor remained as editor of the new daily newspaper for two years. In 1908, A.M. Foster became editor. The following year The Sun was sold to a Kentucky judge, J.H. Westover, who became editor as well as proprietor.

Westover somehow managed to survive the greatest disaster ever to befall the paper, the flood of 1916. Heavy rainfall on the lower Gila and Colorado River drainage areas above Yuma caused the rivers to rise, flooding the entire downtown business sections. The newspaper building on Main Street, like many other buildings of the day, was built of adobe. The rising waters soon reached the adobe walls and they softened and then collapsed, bringing the whole structure down upon itself. It was a total loss for The Sun. But Westover succeeded in getting new financial backing and shortly resumed publication.

The flood of 1916 was disastrous in another way. When the adobe walls came tumbling down, all of the files of The Sun for the previous 20 years were destroyed. A priceless source of historical information about early Yuma was forever lost.

After 20 years at the helm of The Sun, Westover sold to a Wisconsin publishing firm which sent E.S. (Ned) Worthington to Yuma to manage the newspaper. Active management of the newspaper was placed in the hands of a father and son team, William and Lamont Odett. A third member of that newspaper team was Mirian Welter of Yuma, who became Mrs. Lamont Odett. That was in 1928, and soon the nation was to suffer the economic malaise known as the Great Depression. By 1935, The Sun was also in poor economic health.

With the Sentinel and Sun both in financial trouble, it was clear that Yuma could not support two daily newspapers. Thus the situation was ripe for a merger in 1935 when two Midwest newspapermen arrived on the scene.

Yuma was still rather modest in size, having a population of no more than 5,000 people. F.F. McNaughton, a daily newspaper publisher from Pekin, Ill., and R.E. "Doc" Osborn, a daily editor from Bicknell, Ind., purchased both struggling newspapers and combined them.

They gave prominence to The Sun in the masthead but also retained the Sentinel in order to perpetuate the lineage of Yuma's oldest newspaper.

While The Sun had been a morning newspaper, the new owners decided to publish the merged daily paper in the early afternoon as The Yuma Daily Sun. They reasoned that the main sources of national and world news — Washington, D.C., and New York — were two hours and sometimes three hours ahead of Yuma and so an afternoon newspaper would be able to carry the latest news of the outside world.

Osborn moved his family to Yuma and operated the newspaper while McNaughton remained in Illinois. Osborn remained in the editor's seat until 1947 when he died of lung cancer. He was followed as editor by his son, Jones Osborn, who remained as editor and publisher into the early 1980s.

From the period of 1953 on, Osborn and Don Soldwedel served as co-publishers and owners with Osborn being the editor and Soldwedel being the business manager. It remained that way into the early 1980s, when the Osborns and Soldwedels sold their half ownerships of The Yuma Daily Sun. Briefly, the newspaper was jointly owned by Donrey Newspapers and Cox Newspapers Inc. but in a short time full ownership was acquired by Cox and continued until Dec. 16, 1996, when Thomson Newspapers purchased the newspaper.

It was sold again to Freedom Newspapers on Aug. 1, 2000. On July 30, 2001, the newspaper went back to its roots, changing its name to The Sun and returning to morning delivery seven days a week.

In June 2009 the name of the newspaper was again changed. It became the Yuma Sun, reflecting its growing role as not only a printed newspaper but also as a digital source of information on the Internet where its website is YumaSun.com.

Freedom was purchased in June of 2012 by 2100 Trust LLC, a privately-held company led by Aaron Kushner. That sale included six Freedom daily newspapers, including the Yuma Sun.

Then, on May 1, 2013, the Yuma Sun was sold to the Rhode Island Suburban Newspapers Inc. RISN is a privately owned publisher of several daily and weekly newspapers in Rhode Island across the United States and Canada.

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