The Exeter Sun was first published in the back room of a little frame building on Pine Street in November 1901. This building was located where the Valley Electric Company was located in 1951. F.G. Griggs, affectionately known to all of Exeter as “Grandpa Griggs,” had his shoe repair shop in the front of the building. This block was leveled in 1975 and today is the site of the Bank of America.
Exeter, as a town, was only 13 years old when the first issue hit the dusty and sometimes muddy streets on Nov. 15, 1901. As they celebrated their first 50 years in 1951, they made a request and offered a reward of $100 for the first edition but it still didn’t surface.
The first Sun was printed on an old hand operated Washington hand press. Its type was, for the first 20 years or so, hand set. Through the years the business has kept pace with modern progress. In 1951 the shop was among the best equipped in the county, with two typesetting machines, three automatic presses, and a newspaper press that was capable of excellent reproductions from type.
Publisher Fred Page sold the paper to Eber Dawson in 1904. Dawson operated the paper until 1906, when he sold to Col. C.F. Train. Train was the publisher until 1908, when he sold a half interest to U.G. Knight of Long Beach, Calif. in December 1909. Knight became sole owner when Train moved to Maricopa.
For a time, The Exeter Sun was a daily publication. The period of daily publication came after the city was incorporated in 1911 and there was a need to run the legal noticees of the sale of bonds which reuquired a certain number of publications and there was a deadline to be met. The Sun was a daily until this requirement was met.
In 1911, Knight sold an interest to A.B. Sellars and in 1912 became sole owner again. In 1914, E. Brown became Knight’s silent partner. Brown became sole owner on Aug. 6, 1915 and two weeks later sold to Watt S. Clawson.
Clawson made a deal with O.W. Catlin to purchase the building at 120 North E Street and just 15 days after Clawson became the new owner of The Sun he moved it to that location, where it remains today. In June 1955, Clawson and his son James sold the paper to H.A. Andresen. At this tme the Sequoia Publishing Company produced both The Exeter Sun and Woodlake Echo. Andresen did an excellent job of publishing the papers having inherited an excellent crew of persons familiar with the town and district. During his tenure as publisher, the newspapers won several top CNPA (California Newspaper Publishers Association) awards. In 1961, Andresen sold his interests in both papers to Roy Brock of Selma. Later that year, the Farmersville Herald had been added to its list of publications. Roger Brock and Dan Winston bought The Exeter Sun from Barman in Frebruary 1972 and after two and a half years, sold his interest to Dan and Nancy Winston.
In July 1974, Dan Winston died suddenly of a heart attack while working at his desk in The Exeter Sun offices. His widow, Nancy, took over the newspaper for one year, and in July 1975, she asked Howard Barman to take over the ownership and management, which he did.
After purchasing the paper from Howard Barman, Clifford W. Cox began selling advertising and The Exeter Sun started to grow. After building the paper up and incorporating The Sun into Mineral King Publishing Co., Inc. (MKP). Cox sold the papers to the Sacramento Union, now a defunct paper.
The Sacramento Union sold the papers to Chris Hester who in turn sold them in November 1983 to Violet Spencer, who was General Manager and Gary Dunn who was the editor. Under Spencer, MKP published the Sun, Gazette, Echo, Herald and added the Three Rivers Current. MKP was sold to Warren and Bill Brown in 1988.
In 1994, MKP acquired the Lindsay Gazette, which has also been published since 1901, from owners John M. and Nora McNall. The following year, MKP discontinued the publication of the Woodlake Echo, Farmersville Herald and Three Rivers Current. In 1998, MKP closed the Gazette’s office in Lindsay and operated both papers out of its headquarters in Exeter.
Warren later sold his interest to Bill, who retained sole ownership of the paper until curent owners Katie and Wes Byrne purchased half ownership in 1999. The Byrnes remodeled The Sun’s office to make it more welcoming and upgraded computer equipment to make it more efficient.
On March 2, MKP debuted its newest publication The Foothills Sun-Gazette, a combination of two 104-year-old papers The Exeter Sun and the Lindsay Gazette. Through the new paper, MKP continues hometown news coverage of the cities of Exeter and Lindsay and has returned to Woodake, Farmersville, Three Rivers and the additional communities of Lemon Cove, Strathmore, Plainview and Ivanhoe.
Through the years The Exeter Sun and the Lindsay Gazette won numerous honors at the local, state and national level. The files of The Sun are a fascinating history of Exeter. Birth, deaths, marriages, tragedies, parties, entertainment, crimes, and milestones of progress march through pages in endless succession. Outstanding good works are preserved for posterity, as well as for the record of misdeeds. The Exeter Sun is available at the Exeter Library Branch on micro-film from Nov. 22, 1901 through 2003. Hardbound issues of the paper are available at the Sun-Gazette’s office from 1985 to today. Digital copies of stories which have been published on our website since November, 2003 are available on this website through the archives search.