"At a few minutes after 7 o'clock last Sunday morning, our citizens were aroused from their lethargy by the appearance of the newsboys in the streets, crying ' 'Ere's the Journal Extra! Arrival of the Pony! Death of Senator Douglas!' etc. At first a few appeared to question the genuineness of the reported news, from the fact that heretofore the earliest hour of the news by Saturday's Pony reaching Petaluma had been Sunday evening, -- that being the regular time for the appearance of the extract which have been published in this city for a few weeks past. These doubts, however, were quickly dispelled when it became known that the news had been telegraphed from San Francisco (immediately upon its publication there,) to Napa, expressly for the Journal, and thence dispatched by a Pony Express to Petaluma."Thus the Sonoma County Journal, Petaluma's first newspaper, in its regular issue of Friday morning, June 21, 1861, told of the inauguration of Petaluma's Pony Express, which was to enjoy a life even shorter than its famed and more celebrated namesake.
Like many another newspaper of the day, the Journal had recorded the arrival of the first Pony Express at Sacramento on April 13, 1860. in its issue of April 20. And beginning with its issue of May 11, the Journal credited its column of Eastern news to the Pony Express: "By the Pony Express, we have St. Louis dates to .April 28th."
When something happened to the Pony, there was no column of Eastern news. Occasionally the column was omitted, sometimes because the Pony was late, sometimes because other news crowded out the Eastern news, as when the Journal printed a rather detailed report of the County Fair.
As the news from the East in the latter part of 1860, with the election of Lincoln, and in the early part of 1861, with the secession of the Southern states, became more and more exciting the Journal's column of Eastern news was seldom missed. And then on Thursday, April 25, 1861, the Journal printed its first Pony Extra, explaining it thus:
"Tonight's Express brings the following startling intelligence from the East. As our paper for this week is nearly all printed, we resort to an extra in order to lay the news before our readers."The "startling intelligence'' contained the account of the attack on Fort Sumter, the surrender of Major Anderson, and the commencement of Civil War. The Journal asked the Postmaster and Express Agents receiving the extras to see that each subscriber of the Journal had one. The balance, they were told they could "dispose of as they see proper.
After boasting that the Journal extra had placed the Pony news in the hands of its readers "from thirty-five to thirty-six hours ahead of the San Francisco papers" and "in advance of all competitors," the Journal proposed to continue issuing a Pony Express extra "probably late on Tuesday and Saturday evenings or early the following mornings" provided "our people are disposed to properly encourage the project." Proper encouragement, the Journal thought, would be the payment of "25 cts. per week.''
The Journal's Pony Express had only a brief day. Proper encouragement, apparently, was not forthcoming. The people of Petaluma either thought it not worth 25 cents a week extra to have the news a day or 90 earlier, or felt that they were already adequately supplied with newspapers. There were two Weeklies: the Sonoma County Journal, published on Fridays, and the Petaluma Argus, published on Tuesdays. Besides there was the Daily Alta California of San Francisco, which was brought to Petaluma by the Steamer Petaluma, which made daily trips from the Haystack, a few miles south of Petaluma, to San Francisco and return. So why subscribe to what in effect was a third weekly?
The regular issues of the Journal, for the weeks of July 5, 12 and 19, lead off their columns of Eastern news with the following notation: ''From the Journal Extra of Sunday." From then on, however, there is no further mention of the Journal Extra. Its demise was not recorded.
The Journal Extras were discovered in the newspaper files at the Petaluma Library by Ed and Chris Mannion, who also did some of the original research.