"Independent in all things, neutral in nothing" is characterization of William Pitt Bartlett, the founder of the Livermore Herald.
Bartlett, born in 1855 in New Portland, Maine, began as a newspaperman in the Livermore Valley in 1877. He assumed management of The Enterprise, the area's first publication, at the age of 22. He renamed it The Herald, and for 15 years he worked toward the betterment of the valley through the newspaper.
Bartlett's first newspaper appeared Feb. 3, 1877. At times, when items were scarce, and printers more scarce, The Herald occasionally came out a day late, and comments were heard: "What's the matter, Bartlett? Are you running a weekly or a tri-weekly?" Bartlett, nevertheless, won the good will of the community, which the policies of his newspaper were soon to demonstrate.
The Herald took a prominent part in the introduction of many new industries to the Livermore Valley, such as vine and fruit growing, manufacturing, and coal and chrome mining. Also, through its editorial push, better roads were built in the area.
A series of articles in The Herald, which stimulated interest in the wine industry as applied to the Livermore Valley, was started by Bartlett. In 1881, 50 acres of vineyard had been planted. By 1882, the figure had reached 1,049 acres. In proportion, the population of Livermore soared from 855 in 1880 to 1,700 in 1885.
In the late 1880s, Livermore Valley's fame spread further. As a result of Bartlett's urging, Charles Wetmore, prominent Livermore farmer, traveled to Paris with his fine wines. After competing with wines from all over the world, Wetmore captured the gold medal, and the Livermore Valley became famous overnight.
By the late 1880s, the newspaper was enjoying wide circulation in the valley and in surrounding localities — an accomplishment probably due to the editor's policy of elimination of all personalities and matters of questionable character.
During the early 1880s, Bartlett had added real estate business to his newspaper work. He published a pamphlet containing statistical and descriptive information on the Livermore Valley, and he is credited with bringing in many new settlers.
Bartlett sold the Herald in 1891 and then spent five years in borax mining in the Mojave Desert. He published a book called "Happenings," which was a series of sketches of early days in California and Nevada.
Foreseeing the rapid growth of the community, Bartlett wrote, "Livermore Valley is now threatened with innovations and revolutions on every land. Flooding, drainage, two railroads and the grape boom are all upon us with flood-like impetuosity. Stand aside, gentlemen, and hold your breath!"
A year before his death in July 1929, Bartlett published a second book, titled "More Happenings in California." His enthusiasm for progress lived on after his death in the form of scholarships he donated anonymously to students in the Porterville area.
Bartlett's life may be summed up by his address to the people of Livermore in 1928: "You have a better town now, better schools, a larger population and a larger and better Herald than those I knew. And your town, your schools, your community spirit and your newspaper will be just what you make them."
*Hall of Fame inductees are selected annually by a committee appointed by the California Press Foundation. They recognize career achievements of weekly and daily publishers in California who were important and influential in their era, as judged by their peers in the association. The write-ups are a historical and journalistic snapshot in time and not official biographies.*