' /> Postal clerk horsewhips Bothell publisher for a critical editorial on April 17, 1909. - HistoryLink.org

Postal clerk horsewhips Bothell publisher for a critical editorial on April 17, 1909.

  • By David Wilma
  • Posted 6/11/2003
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 4188

On April 17, 1909, Assistant Postmistress Olivia Cole attacks Bothell Sentinel publisher Bill Guernsey with a whip. Guernsey, writing under the pseudonym Bill Bugghaus, had written an editorial complaining about "standing in line waiting a needless length of time for improperly distributed mail" (Stickney, 142). This is the first documented incidence of a postal worker in Bothell attacking a citizen.

Wielding the Blacksnake

Guernsey had purchased the four-page Sentinel, which came out every Saturday. He wrote under several assumed names and was sometimes critical of individuals in that small town, population approximately 500. Reportedly, Cole caught Guernsey coming out of Ericksen's store and struck him several times with a whip, which she had concealed in the folds of her clothing. Guernsey was not injured, but the following Saturday, he ran the story under the headline

"Horsewhipped on Main Street
Bill Bugghaus gets all that's coming to him and
a little more before she's through
wielding the blacksnake on his back"

Cole answered with a letter to the editor in which she asserted that her actions were "for the good of the whole community."

The following July, Guernsey attempted to generate interest in his paper (he accepted subscription fees in produce) by hanging a banner that read, "See Bill and the Devil. Make a little journey into Hell." The banner hung between the Sentinel's building and the Odd Fellows Hall.

Things Go Down from There

Hall manager John Keener took offense and punched Guernsey in the eye. Harry Martin joined in and hit Guernsey as well. Later that day, Guernsey beat Martin up. Guernsey apologized to his readers and explained what a "printer's devil" and "hell boxes" were in a newspaper.

Guernsey sold the Sentinel a few months later and pursued his journalism career in Renton.


Amy Eunice Stickney, Lucille McDonald, Squak Slough, 1870-1920: Early Days on the Sammamish River, Woodinville-Bothell-Kenmore (Seattle: Friends of the Bothell Library, 1977), 142-149.

Licensing: This essay is licensed under a Creative Commons license that encourages reproduction with attribution. Credit should be given to both HistoryLink.org and to the author, and sources must be included with any reproduction. Click the icon for more info. Please note that this Creative Commons license applies to text only, and not to images. For more information regarding individual photos or images, please contact the source noted in the image credit.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License
Major Support for HistoryLink.org Provided By: The State of Washington | Patsy Bullitt Collins | Paul G. Allen Family Foundation | Museum Of History & Industry | 4Culture (King County Lodging Tax Revenue) | City of Seattle | City of Bellevue | City of Tacoma | King County | The Peach Foundation | Microsoft Corporation, Other Public and Private Sponsors and Visitors Like You