| Joseph Blackburn
Bass and Frederick Madison Roberts, California's first black
Joseph Blackburn Bass was born in Jefferson City, Missouri on August
2, 1863. He taught school for seven years but in 1893-1894, William
Pope, editor of the Topeka Call offered him the job of
newspaperman. In 1896, Pope died, and Joseph Bass became owner,
publisher, and editor. In 1898, Nick Chiles purchased the newspaper
and re-christened it The Topeka Plaindealer. J.B. Bass
worked as Chile's associate until 1905 when he moved to Montana
to establish The Montana Plaindealer in Helena, Montana.
In 1911, he went to San Francisco for one year, staying with a
friend. Together the friends went to Los Angeles for a brief visit
around October 1912. J.B. Bass decided to stay and in late 1912
he paid a visit to the Eagle, which was on 1328 Central.
"I had been told that a young woman was the head of this particular
newspaper, and on that account I had been shy to some extent, or
in all probability in calling. I had my doubts perhaps about a feminine
journalist. However, after my call and a general shoptalk with Miss
Charlotta A. Spear, I was forced to alter my opinion because it
seemed she had every requisite, which it takes to be a top-notcher,
except experience, which she was gaining in leaps and bounds. We
went away much impressed... I could not forget the little lady at
the helm of the Eagle."
Charlotta Spear had this to say about J.B. Bass and their first
meeting: "I am not ashamed to say that I was making a desperate
struggle to put the old bird on the newspaper map. The Eagle
was unpopular and I was unknown. Until Mr. Bass appeared on the
scene no one had a word of encouragement, instead they came in committees
of one, two and sometimes more, showing me how it could not be done.
I listened, but always there was that little voice within whispering,
"Go on--you can and will succeed." The 'Master' directed and I followed."
In 1913, Charlotta Spear hired J.B. Bass to do a limited amount
of newspaper work, including running the newspaper for two weeks
while she traveled north. At the end of 1913, she offered J.B. Bass
the position of editor of the California Eagle, a position
he held until his death in 1934. They married in August 1914.
An excerpt from Charlotta Bass's column, "On the Sidewalk," dated
April 2, 1937, reads: "My last visit Sunday was to the grave of
the late editor of this paper, J.B. Bass. I did not lay a large
bouquet upon the grave of him who sleeps beneath, but gardenias
three in number, with their fragrance mild but sweet, conveying
a message I cannot here repeat."
"Together we started
"Together we parted
"He sleeps, and I go on with the task, he would have me complete.
"Fellow traveler, I do not ask for a lift--
"I can carry my load.
"I only ask that you do not block my path."
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