BIO- Pen Pictures
Charles M. Shortridge, the present editor and proprietor of the San Jose Daily and Weekly Mercury, was born at Pleasant Grove, a small hamlet near Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, on the twenty-fourth day of August, 1857. He came to California when a small boy. He first stopped at Nevada City, where he worked until he had saved a few dollars, when he came to San Jose for the purpose of attending the public schools, which had a great reputation for efficiency. Not having money enough to support himself while attending school, he hired out to the San Jose Gas Company as a lamp-lighter, for a salary of $28 per month.
Having completed his course at the public schools with honor, he went to work in the office of the Daily Mercury as a general utility boy, sweeping out the office, running errands, and doing whatever was to be done. While attending school he had selected journalism as his future profession, and determined to master the business in all its departments. Having no money of his own, and no rich relatives to start him in business, he was obliged to commence at the bottom of the ladder. But when he had placed his foot on the first round, he fixed his eye on the top, and never rested until he was there. While working as office boy he familiarized himself with the details of the composing room and press rooms. He worked his way into the business department, keeping the books and collecting the bills, and over-seeing the mailing and subscription department, and thence he went on the local staff. He continued with the Mercury for seven years, until 1883. He was then twenty-six years old, with all the information in regard to the newspaper business that he could acquire in San Jose, and determined to start for himself. He had no money, but was full of practical ideas which he had worked out while with the Mercury.
He severed his connection with this paper, and went into the real-estate and insurance business. This was for the purpose of keeping the “pot boiling” until he could perfect his plans. Some of the business men and capitalists of San Jose had watched young Shortridge’s career, and had been favorably impressed with his talent, pluck, and perseverance. He had many offers of lucrative positions, but he would not turn aside from the aim of his life. He succeeded, after some time, in securing financial backing sufficient to purchase the Daily Times, paying $5,500 for it. He immediately enlarged it, and, at great expense, secured the exclusive right to the morning telegraphic dispatches for San Jose. Many of his friends looked on with dismay at what seemed to them to be the most reckless extravagance, while his enemies and journalistic rivals prophesied speedy bankruptcy. But the young man was hewing to the line he had laid down for a guide after careful measurement. What seemed to his friends as recklessness was, in fact, the result of the soberest kind of thought. He was simply exhibiting the nerve necessary to the proper execution of his plans. This was in 1883.
In 1884 he secured control of the stock of the Mercury Printing and Publishing Co., and, in less than two years from the day he walked out of the Mercury office a poor boy, with scarcely a penny in his pocket, he walked back again as its proprietor. He combined the Times and Mercury, added new material and presses, and proceeded to make the new journal twice as good as either of them were before. His expenses were greatly increased, but the income was in a much larger proportion. In 1885 he absorbed the Republic, a morning paper which had been started that year. This plan of combining forces is one of the peculiarities of Mr. Shortridge’s journalistic career. He wastes no ammunition in fighting competing journals. If a paper develops enough importance to become a rival, he absorbs it; but unless it has this importance he ignores it.
During Mr. Shortridge’s ownership of the Mercury, more special editions have been issued than during all the former history of journalism in San Jose. These specials run from sixteen to sixty-four pages, generally profusely illustrated, and always in the interest of the material resources of the county. Mr. Shortridge is now, 1888, thirty-one years of age. He is a ready speaker, a Republican in politics, devoted to the principle of protection for American industries, and a firm believer in the future greatness of the Santa Clara Valley, the “garden of the world.”
Pen Pictures From The Garden of the World or Santa Clara County, California, Illustrated. - Edited by H. S. Foote.- Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1888.
Transcribed by Kathy Sedler
SANTA CLARA COUNTY The Valley of Heart's Delight