Redwood County Minnesota
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NEWSPAPERS OF REDWOOD COUNTY.
THE HISTORY OF REDWOOD COUNTY MINNESOTA
Compiled By Frankly N Curtiss-Wedge Volume I Chicago H. C. Cooper Jr. & Co. 1916
Submitted by Veneta McKinney
NEWSPAPERS OF REDWOOD COUNTY.
The first settlers of Redwood county came from a stock in which there was a general desire for knowledge, and with the desire for knowledge there was a call for the printing press, and with the printing press there came the call for a newspaper long before the county itself, by virtue of a small population, was able to sustain in proper form the publication of the newspaper.
With the first settlement of Redwood Falls, the first town in the county, the early settlers had plenty of work to do for the time being in erecting a stockade, in erecting homes, and in preparing a defense against a possible attack from the not then too friendly Indians, and in addition to obtaining from the soil, as well as from the hunt, and from the timber nearby, sufficient to maintain a livelihood until more prosperous times should arrive.
But with all these manifold duties, the settlers never forgot that they were a part of the outside world. So the spare hours of these pioneers were spent on the street corners, or on the benches in front of one or two of the establishments of that period, in discussing past events, not only those that had passed weeks before throughout the United States and the rest of the world, and which had reached this important frontier post through belated newspapers, but also in the late happenings that occurred in the little community. Growing out of these corner curbstone meetings, there came a desire for something like a newspaper, and in the restless breast of Col. Sam. McPhail, the founder of the townsite of Redwood Falls, this desire became intense, not only by reason of his wish to boom Redwood Falls and Redwood county, but probably from that other desire to "play even" (if such a term may be used) with some of the settlers who had "riled" his spirit or had played some inexcusable joke upon the old Mexican War veteran.
As a result of this feeling there appeared on the streets of the then sparsely populated village on March 23, 1866, a paper known as the Redwood Falls Patriot. This was a small folio newspaper, but very little larger than ordinary legal cap, but it was brim full of the pointed thrusts characteristic of the old Colonel. The paper was printed in St. Peter, from the press of Thomas M. Perry, himself an original character of Nicollet County, and his name appeared as proprietor of the paper, and Col. Sam McPhail as editor. This issue of the Patriot contained some business advertising, but none of the latter pertained to the business institutions of Redwood Falls. The news columns contained the pleasing information that "Redwood Falls was destined to become the half-way house between New York and San Francisco," and that its future was destined to be great. Here and there appeared an allusion to some of the settlers having paid nocturnal visits to the tents of the Indians camped just across the river, and intimating that unless there was a general let-up on the attacks on the editor, the Patriot would be obliged to continue the expose. Politically the Patriot was a strenuous Republican sheet, seeing the county's safety by alone keeping the Republican party in power. It boosted Redwood county real estate, and that controlled by Col. McPhail, in particular. The editor apparently came to the conclusion that the few issues could not be improved upon and that rather than have a failure by many and subsequent issues, the Patriot should "die aborning," and the few random issues ceased apparently with the issue of April 27, 1869, which contained the delinquent tax list.
The Redwood Falls Mail. The first bona fide newspaper was the Redwood Falls Mail, the first issue of which appeared more than three years after the Patriot made its appearance, or to be exact, on Sept. 25, 1869, over 48 years ago. The printing press and material were brought to Redwood Falls on one of the several steamboats that plied between St. Paul and Riverside, located two miles from Redwood Falls on the Minnesota river. During the summer season of this year, and for several years thereafter, the editor was V. C. Seward, who was full of wit and originality, and who, from its first appearance, made the Mail an exceptionally lively paper. It was a seven-column folio and the first issue proclaimed itself to be the official paper for Redwood, Renville, Lac qui Parle, Big Stone, Pipestone, Murray and Cottonwood counties. It was, in fact, the only newspaper published in all this vast territory. One side of the paper was printed at Milwaukee and the patents were shipped to Redwood Falls for final printing. The paper was Republican, and the first number had the Republican state ticket at the head of its first column, with the name of Horace Austin hoisted for governor and proposing the Hon. Schuyler Colfax for president in 1872. The salutatory said in part: "Scorning all narrow minded local jealousy we shall aim to promote the material welfare, not of this place and county solely, but of this entire section of the state, which we consider, in many respects, the finest portion of the great West."
The advertisements in the first edition were from St. Peter, Mankato, New Him and St. Paul business houses, those from Redwood Falls only being the advertisements of H. Behnke & Bro., dry goods, groceries, clothing, etc. ; Redwood Mills by Worden & Ruter; W. H. Sigler, druggist and insurance agent; W. L. Eaton, hardware and tinware ; and Peter Ortt, livery stable. Mr. Ortt advertised that he ran two stage lines, one to Lynd, now in Lyon county, leaving Redwood every Monday and returning on Wednesday, and the other to Yellow Medicine, leaving every Friday and returning on Saturday. In this first issue Mr. Seward stated that the issue of the first newspaper had been delayed three weeks by reason of the non-arrival of his material, the steamboat Pioneer, running between Redwood Falls and St. Paul, having been delayed somewhere along the Minnesota river. The Pioneer was engaged in carrying all kinds of freight, but more especially lumber, the common grade of which sold in Redwood Falls at that time for $37.00 per M, while wheat was being marketed at 70c a bushel.
Mr. Seward's restless disposition did not permit him to remain long in the community in which he felt his talents and his ability were more or less circumscribed, and nearly four years later, or to be more exact, in April of 1873, W. B. Herriott, a native of Pittsburgh, Pa., a lawyer by profession, but not caring to practice, came to Redwood Falls from St. Paul and purchased the Redwood Falls Mail. The announcement was made in the issue of April 25, and in the issue of the following week Mr. Herriott announced that the name had been changed to the Redwood Gazette. Mr. Seward returned to Stillwater, where he long after edited the Messenger.
The Redwood Gazette. The Gazette was issued as an eight- column folio, with a patent inside, by Herriott & Beal, J. S. Beal having come up from St. Paul with Mr. Herriott and associating, himself with that gentleman in the publication of the paper. Mr. Herriott was regarded as the politician and editor of the paper, while Mr. Beal gave his time to the mechanical end of the publication. But money was scarce, times were hard, and the two gentlemen realized that there was not sufficient in the plant to give both a livelihood and on October 15, 1873, Mr. Beal withdrew and Mr. Herriott once again became the sole proprietor, this continuing until April 29, 1880. Mr. Herriott, however, was appointed receiver of the land office at Redwood Falls in 1876, and in a measure received his reward for the early newspaper struggles in that city and county. He was regarded as a person of more or less nervous temperament, but of a conservative disposition in political and business affairs, and it may be stated that from a newspaper standpoint he made very few enemies while his passive friends were numerous.
His position as register of the land officer justified his retiring from the newspaper and on April 29, 1880, he closed out his interests in the Redwood Gazette to James Aiken and W. R. Rigby under the firm name of Aiken & Rigby, the two gentlemen having graduated from the printing office of the Topeka Capital, and coming to Redwood Falls with the hopes of securing both health and wealth. Mr. Herriott continued to reside in Redwood Falls until he retired from the receivership of public moneys, after which he and his wife moved to California and made that state their permanent home. Messrs. Aiken & Rigby continued the Gazette as an eight-column, patent inside folio by using both long primer and brevier in the composition.
The winter of 1881 was one of unusual hardships. With the blizzard of October 18, 1880, blockading the western railroads and shutting off practically all avenues of trade, with the single exception of the local community, the publishers experienced newspaper hardships which they did not anticipate. No trains were run between Sleepy Eye and Redwood Falls from October until the following March or April. The mail and groceries were brought in by teams. The patent insides of the Gazette failed to arrive and a number of issues were printed on ordinary wrapping paper. When spring came Mr. Rigby concluded that he had sufficient of one Minnesota winter and that Redwood Falls would not support a paper with two publishers, and consequently on May 5, 1881, he retired from the firm and James Aiken became the sole editor and publisher until August 1, 1892, when he was succeeded by Julius A. Schmahl and Herbert V. Ruter, doing business as Schmahl & Ruter.
Both of these young men had acquired a knowledge of the printing business in the Gazette office in previous years and came up from St. Paul, where Schmahl had been a reporter and Ruter a job printer, to purchase the plant in which they had received their earlier instructions. They changed the form of the paper to an eight-column quarto, made it an all-home print proposition, and equipped the office with a power printing press and other up-to-date machinery, as well as materially adding to its equipment. This partnership continued for a year and three months, when Mr. Ruter retired from the firm. James Aiken repurchased his interest and the publication of the Gazette was continued under the firm name of Aiken & Schmahl until December 1, 1906. In 1905 this firm built the magnificent brick Gazette block and moved the plant to that building, its present home.
Rigby was of the nervous, restless type of newspaper man, and wanted things to move rapidly. The sparse population and the lack of wealth in Redwood county was not sufficient to gratify his nature and his ambition, and consequently he sought other fields. James Aiken was of the opposite temperament. Mr. Aiken enjoyed the work at the art of printing. He loved to work at new ideals and new schemes in the print shop. He believed in making friends all of the time, and avoiding the making of enemies, and in his very desire to keep out of entanglements he brought forth mild criticism. But in all of his newspaper connection he preferred the mechanical to the news or editorial desk, although he was one of the smoothest writers that wielded the pencil in that section of the state. While he did perfect job printing, and made his advertisements models of the printer's art, he wrote without sting, and his newspaper brethren have always wondered how he did it. He avoided show, except as to his newspaper; he loved even his enemies, and while he never injected strenuousness into his efforts, he made friends of all who came into contact with him.
On Dec. 1, 1906, when the writer retired from the Gazette to move to St. Paul and assume the office of secretary of state, to which he had been elected the previous month, Mr. Aiken again went it alone. But he had taken on himself a big job printing business an increased size newspaper, and a general increase of all branches of the business, and he soon found that it was a larger task than his advanced age justified. During 1911 he disposed of the plant to Grove E. Wilson, a St. Paul reporter, who conducted it until about the close of the 1913 session of the legislature, when it passed into the hands of Mrs. Bess M. Wilson and Clemens Lauterbach, the latter the present postmaster at Redwood Falls, and Mrs. Wilson, one of the best newspaper "men" in the state, as her writings in The Gazette clearly verify. In September, 1916, Mr. Lauterbach sold out his interest to Mrs. Wilson and she is now sole owner of the expensive plant.
Learning of the publication of this history of newspapers in Redwood county, Mr. Aiken has made the following voluntary contribution regarding The Gazette, and the young men who graduated from his printing office.
"The association of Julius A. Schmahl with the Redwood Gazette dates back to the fall of 1880, when as a boy of 14, he closed a summer campaign devoted to managing a bunch of cattle for the Barber brothers in Vesta township and began his career as printer and office assistant in the Gazette office. The boy Julius was a live wire from the start, not limited to the routine of sweeping out the office, working at the cases and inking the forms printed on the Washington hand press and the only job press which Redwood county afforded at that time. His instinct for finding out everything that was going on in the community as well as in the office, was a valuable asset for the Gazette editor, then almost as new to the work of conducting a newspaper as his young assistant to the art of printing. This unquenchable desire to know things is the foundation of Mr. Schmahl's rapid advancement in education and efficiency in most of the undertakings with which he has since been associated.
"At the end of three years' service in the Gazette office, young Julius found work in a printing office at Fargo and later on at St. Paul, where his brother Otto was employed in a drug store. Here his activities brought him into contact with the late Harlan P. Hall, among others, and gave him a chance to get busy as a reporter on the newspaper which Mr. Hall was then connected with. The progress of the future editor of the Gazette from local scout to legislative reporter, Chatauqua student till his diploma was secured, editor of the Gazette, clerk of the Minnesota house of representatives and secretary of state continuously since 1906 were, of course, not accidental, but the result of natural ability and aggressiveness. Without even a high school education as a boy, as a young man he had followed up his Chatauqua course with an almost continuous reading in law which has enabled him to save for the state more than his salary during his term in office.
"In August of 1892, Mr. Schmahl entered into partnership with H. V. Ruter, who also began his career as printer in The Gazette office, and purchased the entire interest of The Gazette owner, Mr. Aiken. New machinery and equipment was added, and the paper enlarged to its present eight-page form. Fifteen months later Mr. Ruter sold his interest in the firm to the former owner, and the firm of Aiken & Schmahl continued to guide the destinies of The Gazette until the latter was elected secretary of state of Minnesota, in 1906, when the secretary-elect sold the property to his partner.
"Mr. Schmahl was managing editor of The Redwood Gazette from August, 1892, to December of 1906 — more than 14 years — and the files of that paper show that he was an indefatigable promoter for public and social betterments as well as for political success for those whom he championed. Naturally aggressive, his fearlessness brought on three libel suits within a single year, only one of which resulted in a nominal adverse verdict, and the ultimate effect was a large addition to the Gazette's subscription list which evened up the cost of the legal defense.
"The writer may be pardoned for calling attention to the connection of another Redwood county boy, now well known in Minnesota public life, who was the immediate predecessor of Julius A. Schmahl as office boy and assistant manager of the Redwood Gazette. Like Julius, he was of German parentage. In the summer of 1880 he began his newspaper experience — willingness to help, good nature and awkwardness being his natural characteristics. It was the memorable winter of snow blockades of the railroads lasting for a month or more at a stretch, and Anton's jokes and good nature helped to make the desperate situation, with green wood for fuel and no business or income to speak of, endurable for the struggling publishers. Anton shifted to more profitable employment in a store for a time, but the lure of the printers' ink ultimately claimed him. Anton C. Weiss was too clever a business man to long remain at the case and early became subscription solicitor for the Minneapolis Tribune, later Duluth representative of the Pioneer Press and ultimately business manager and principal owner of the Duluth Herald, since that time continuously under his control and now one of two or three truly great newspaper influences in this state.
The Lamberton Commercial. Owing to the fact that the United States government gave the Indians, by the treaty of 1851, a ten-mile strip running south of the Minnesota river from a point in Brown county, west to the state line, the Winona and St. Peter Railroad Company, when it was incorporated for the purpose of building a railroad through this section of the state, and in order to secure the government land grant as a bonus for the construction, was obliged to keep away from this reservation line in order to obtain the full grant. The result was that on reaching Sleepy Eye, the railroad company was obliged to proceed in a south-westerly direction and consequently passed through the southern portion of Redwood county. This was the first line of railroad built in the county, notwithstanding the fact that agitation had long before been commenced for the construction of a railroad to Redwood Falls.
Among the first towns to spring into existence as a result of the construction of the Winona & St. Peter railroad through the southern portion of Redwood county was Lamberton, the town being named after Hon. Henry W. Lamberton, of Winona. Here in this village the second newspaper published in Redwood county commenced its existence. While the village was established in 1873 and the first building on the site was erected about that time, or a little bit later, the grasshopper plague gave the village, as well as the surrounding country, a set-back, and it was not until 1877 that a new start was taken and a substantial growth commenced.
The Lamberton Commercial was established in December of 1878, the publisher being W. W. Yarham, a young man who had some slight knowledge of the printing business, but Mr. Yarham found the venture a hard one, and in June of 1880, he sold out his interest in the newspaper to A. M. Goodrich. Mr. Goodrich was a native of Minnesota, having been born only 20 years before in Silver Creek, Wright county, and during the years between 1877 and 1880, he taught school in winter and worked at the printer's trade in summer. He continued the paper until January 19, 1882, when, in a formal announcement of suspension he stated that he was obliged to discontinue publication for lack of a decent support.Some time after the period of this suspension and July, 1889, there was a publication in the village under the direction of J. S. Letford, who had moved from Golden Gate, Brown county, to Lamberton, and had engaged in the general mercantile business. Mr. Letford had served as a member of the Minnesota legislature from Carver county for three terms, and while he never had acquired any knowledge of printing, he had some knowledge of editorial work and continued a paper commensurate with the size of the town. It is apparent that it, too, was required to suspend publication for the lack of support.
The Lamberton Leader. About July 1, 1889, the Lamberton Leader came into existence under the direction of that unusually energetic and pugnacious young newspaper man, W. D. Smith. Smith published an eight-column folio Republican newspaper, having a ready print for the inside. Smith was a genuine village Beau Brummel, wearing a silk hat on his visit to the county seat and setting himself up as one of the political leaders of Redwood county. This latter leadership was never disputed, partly because Smith played the game of the real leaders. He was particularly aggressive in his attempt to be the dictator of business and political policies of Lamberton, with the result that the support continued to dwindle and on May 19, 1893, that support had reached the starving point and Mr. Smith, in announcing the discontinuance of the Leader, stated that: "Because of trouble (withdrawal of patronage, etc.) with Lamberton's Business Men's Union, this is the last issue of the Leader under its founder. We feel we have been shamefully treated. We leave with not a single word of commendation from those for whom we have used column after column of our paper for their benefit. We thank our hosts of real friends for kind words and advice, and say Good-Bye, and God Speed You." It appears that Mr. Smith had accepted a number of advertisements from business men of Tracy, about eighteen miles west of Lamberton, for his paper, and the business men of Lamberton contended that this was disloyal and unpatriotic. At any rate, the business men were in the saddle and Mr. Smith left for other fields.
The Lamberton Star. About two months later W. C. Starr appeared in Lamberton and commenced the publication of the Lamberton Star, the first issue making its appearance about the middle of July. Mr. Starr was a well developed newspaper man, and in addition had well defined ideas as to the policies he should pursue in making editorial and local comment upon the acts of public men and upon things in general occurring in and around Lamberton. He continued an aggressive paper until some time in 1910, when circumstances induced Mr. Starr to close out his interests in the paper to E. M. Wilson, who had previously conducted the Echo at Milroy, Redwood county. Mr. Wilson continued as publisher of the Star until after he was defeated for county auditor of Redwood county in 1914, when he disposed of his interests to Hoagland Bros., the present proprietors, Mr. Wilson moving to Marshall county and establishing a new paper in one of the towns of that county. His predecessor, W. C. Starr, moved to Redwood Falls shortly after closing out his interests at Lamberton and purchased what was then known as the Redwood Reveille.
The Redwood Reveille — Now the Redwood Falls Sun. During the autumn of 1885 a second paper was launched in Redwood Falls, called the Redwood Reveille. The projector and owner was Charles C. Whitney, of Marshall, the publisher of the News-Messenger at that place, while the editor and manager was W. M. Todd, who founded and published the Lyon County News of Marshall and the Trumpet, of Tracy, Lyon county. Mr. Whitney, now deceased, began his newspaper career in Lyon county with the Lyon County News, which he purchased from Mr. Todd, but later on he purchased the Marshall Messenger from C. F. Case and adopted the hyphenated name of News-Messenger.
It is doubtful if it was seriously thought by anyone that Redwood Falls at that period furnished a field large enough for two newspapers. There were probably very few, if any, who would have said the field was not already amply and ably filled. It is more probable that Mr. Whitney, who still had on hand the type, presses and equipment which he acquired with the purchase of the Messenger, simply took his chances on the field with the view of utilizing this idle equipment until such a time as he could dispose of it.
Of course, there are in every place, a few who have at one time or another taken umbrage at something printed in the local paper. A few have resented the opposition of the paper to their political ambitions or schemes, and others have thought that, considering their friendship for the paper, its support was disappointing in its lack of warmth. Some have doubtless thought the accomplishments and loveliness of their sons or daughters were not sufficiently amplified in the accounts of their weddings, and others that the virtues of their deceased relatives were obviously slighted in the published obituaries. There were naturally a few of these in Redwood and they as naturally welcomed the advent of the new paper. Still no bonus was offered and no pledges of support. The glad hand was extended, and that was all.
The first issue of the Reveille was struck off Nov. 7, 1885. The paper was an eight-column folio and all printed at home. Mr. Todd had won some renown as a journalist during the editorship of his former papers, and his salutatory as well as the name of the new paper was characteristic.
When a newspaper that has long enjoyed a monopoly of its field suddenly finds that it is to have opposition it generally becomes a little uneasy and almost unconsciously goes into training for a scrap which it instinctively believes to be inevitable. Its columns begin to give more news and every feature of the paper shows increased enterprise. In other words, it tries to show its coming rival that it must "go some" to beat it. This was true of the Gazette all the while the Reveille was getting ready for its first issue. The Gazette man watched the Reveille as a hen watches a hawk and the Reveille man slept at night with one eye open and focused on the Gazette building. But the scrap never occurred. It may be that "one was 'fraid 'n 'tother dassent." Neither paper saw a chance for honest criticism of the other; on the other hand each became convinced that the other was doing all it could in the interest of the place and its people. Each paper was better for the existence of the other, just as one political party is better for the existence of a jealous rival party, and the two editors became and have since continued fast friends.
The staff of the Reveille during the period of Mr. Todd's management included Peter Larson, foreman ; J. A. Schmahl, now secretary of state; Miss Charlotte Schmahl, now Mrs. John J. Palmer, of Duluth; Fred Peabody and William Bigham. Mr. Todd ceased his connection with the Reveille with the issue of Jan. 1, 1887, and accepted the position of deputy insurance commissioner, tendered to him by Gov. A. R. McGill. He was, for several years, a reporter on the St. Paul daily papers, but for the last ten years has been chief clerk of the state grain inspection department at Minneapolis. He has never lost his inclination or ability to write, and is a frequent contributor to magazines and periodicals.
With the retirement of Mr. Todd from the editorial position on the Redwood Reveille, there came into the life of that paper Stephen Wilson Hays. Mr. Hays had long been a resident of Redwood Falls. During the eight months prior to April 29, 1880, he had acted as editor of the Gazette under William B. Herriott. He came from Pennsylvania. As a result of his earlier newspaper affiliation and on account of friends in Pennsylvania, he was appointed postmaster at Redwood Falls, a position which he held for a number of years. He was not engaged in any special line of work when Mr. Todd retired, and he became editor of the Reveille. Mr. Hays was one of the most genial, good natured men that ever came to Redwood Falls. He continued a pleasing Republican policy in the editorial columns of the Reveille, and gathered the local news in a commendable manner. Mr. Whitney continued as publisher until March 16, 1889. During Mr. Hays' editorial career he got into the good graces of Wm. D. Washburn, United States senator from Minnesota, and just before his retirement Mr. Washburn had secured for him a position in the federal revenue service. This was the cause of his retirement and for some years thereafter Mr. Hays continued to work for the U. S. government, most of his time being spent in the sugar plantations of Louisiana. With the change from a Republican to a Democratic national administration, Hays was dropped from the service. He returned to Redwood Falls without any work or business in sight. One Saturday evening he was with a crowd of young men of the town — a group that he had known during his earlier years — and while they noticed certain peculiarities in his actions, they did not dream of what Mr. Hays apparently had in his mind at that time. The following morning, and it was a cold Sunday morning, his lifeless body was found on the ice of the Redwood river, one-eighth of a mile below the falls of the Redwood. It appears that he had lived up to his income and having no available means and no position, he decided to pass into the next world by the laudanum route.
Some time prior to March 16, 1889, there came to Redwood Falls a distinguished old veteran of the Civil War, W. L. Abbott, who brought with him his wife, three charming daughters and a son. Mr. Abbott was a printer without employment, and when Mr. Hays retired from the Reveille to accept the federal position, Mr. Whitney, the publisher, made an arrangement with Mr. Abbott whereby he became the editor and news gatherer of the Reveille. Mr. Abbott took with him his son, William, into the plant and there the young man, who afterwards went to Mankato and then to St. Paul to continue the printing business, received his first lessons in the art preservative, but the elder Abbott did not remain long with the Reveille, his name being removed from the top of the editorial column of the paper on Saturday, Sept. 14, of that year, the last issue under his editorship appearing on the Saturday previous. Mr. Abbott was a pleasing person to meet, and gave the Reveille a good standing in Redwood county. He passed away years afterwards, and his remains now lie in the Redwood cemetery.
About the time that Mr. Abbott retired from the publication, Mr. Whitney had as foreman of his excellent printing office at Marshall, George B. Hughes, a whole souled, clever young man, who possessed practically everything in his nature but aggressiveness. Mr. Hughes was anxious to launch into the printing business for himself, and it is apparent that Mr. Whitney sent him to Redwood Falls with a view of becoming acquainted with the plant, and if he deemed it worthy of purchase, and the town suitable to the tastes of Mr. Hughes, to permit the latter to purchase the same. At any rate the Reveille continued without an announced editor until Saturday, Oct. 11, 1890, when the name of George B. Hughes appeared at the masthead as editor and publisher, and on Dec. 26, 1891, the paper was changed from a four-page folio to an eight-page quarto. Mr. Hughes had in the meantime married Miss Mattie Maxson, a charming young lady, employed in the office of the Marshall Messenger, and when she came to Redwood Falls with her husband, she added very materially to the society news and prestige of the paper. Mr. Hughes continued as the publisher of the paper until "Wednesday, July 4. It was several months previous to that time that in a postoffice contest between James Aiken of the Gazette, and Mr. Hughes of the Reveille, the friends of the latter prevailed upon Representative McCleary of the Second Congressional district, to recommend Mr. Hughes for appointment. The appointment was accordingly made, and shortly after Mr. Hughes took possession, the editorship and control of the paper was turned over to two young men under the firm name of Barnes & Kruse, but the proprietorship still vested in Mr. Hughes.
A. M. Welles, for a long time a reporter on the Minneapolis and St. Paul papers, afterwards superintendent of schools at Redwood Falls, and still later holding down a position at one of the desks of the Omaha Bee, returned to Redwood Falls prior to July 4, 1900, and once more became so attached to the city as to cause him to buy the Reveille plant from Mr. Hughes. Welles ruled the schools over which he was principal with a rod of iron, and as he carried on his reportorial and editorial career with bitterness, he allowed a portion at least of that spirit to enter into the Reveille upon his assuming control. For six years he struggled to give the Reveille the prestige of being the leading paper in Redwood county, and was in a continuous newspaper fight with Schmahl of the Gazette, for that prestige. The writings of either were bitter at times, and jealousy even entered into the securing of business for either office. During the rise of Schmahl to the post of chief clerk of the house and his four successive elections, Welles became bitter from a political standpoint, and after Schmahl's nomination for secretary of state on June 13, 1906, Welles directed a continuous weekly fusilade at that candidate. As a result of the bitterness growing out of that campaign, Welles became tired of conditions in Redwood Falls and Redwood county, and on Friday, March 15, 1907, he announced the sale of the paper to a corporation known as the Gopher State Realty Company, with S. G. Peterson as editor and publisher. Welles has always possessed an exceptionally bright mind, has always shown a real talent for excellent newspaper work. He afterwards published the Sauk Center Herald and now is publisher of the Worthington Globe.
S. G. Peterson had just retired from the mercantile business in Redwood Falls. Prior to engaging in the latter business he had been engaged with a newspaper in McLeod county, and in his individuality there lurked the call created by the smell of printers' ink, but after running the Reveille for about a year and a half, or until Friday, Sept. 19, 1908, he disposed of the same to L. L. Thompson, who came to Redwood Falls from Iowa, and who had more or less experience in the newspaper business. Mr. Peterson has been engaged in various occupations since that time and is now in business at Hutchinson.
Mr. Thompson continued as editor and publisher of the Reveille until Tuesday, June 28, 1910, when after a varied career as the guiding hand of that newspaper, he disposed of his interests to W. C. Starr, who had a short time before disposed of his interests in the Lamberton Star, and was looking for that new field which he found at Redwood Falls. The name was changed to the Redwood Falls Sun, and Mr. Starr continued as editor and publisher up to Friday, Oct. 16, 1914, when the publication was given to the Starr Publishing Company with W. C. Starr as editor and H. L. Starr as local editor. Mr. Starr and Mrs. Starr have a number of bright young Starrs in their family, and all of them are employed in getting out the weekly edition of the Sun and also in helping in the job department. The Sun is a well edited newspaper filled with local news and thoroughly covering the Redwood county news field.
The Morgan Messenger. The history of The Morgan Messenger is closely associated with the history of the town itself and its growth has kept apace with the progress of the village. Its first issue appeared on April 30, 1890, the year after the village was incorporated. The founder of the paper was Guy Small, who ran it for a year, and disposed of the paper to W. R. Hodges, editor of the Sleepy Eye Herald-Dispatch. Its first home was a little shack, located on Vernon avenue, but which at that time had not come into its own as the main business street of the town. With the change in ownership the new publisher placed The Messenger in charge of Asa P. Brooks, who ran it for Mr. Hodges for over two years when Dan McRae took over the plant. Some years later, while publisher of the New Ulm Review, Mr. Brooks gained considerable notoriety as the eye witness to the murder of Dr. Gebhart.
There were frequent changes of ownership in the early history of the paper, which possibly accounts for the fact that many of the files of The Messenger were not preserved, and in some cases the dates of change of ownership were calculations made by the early residents o f Morgan. Not only were there several changes in the location of the plant, but also in the size and form of the paper. The first few years it was an eight-column folio, with but two pages printed at home. While Mr. Brooks was at the helm it was changed to eight pages, six columns, with about three pages printed in the local plant. Thus it remained during the editorship of Mr. McRae, who disposed of the paper to I. N. Tompkins in 1896. The publisher reduced the paper to five columns, eight pages, printing half of the paper at home. In the fall of 1898 Mr. Tompkins was elected to the position of county auditor of Redwood county, and shortly after assuming his official duties he sold the plant to W. Roy Whitman, who was connected with The Messenger for three years. Mr. Whitman increased the size of the paper to six columns, the present size. In January, 1902, F. S. Pollard made his debut as editor and publisher. Having been appointed postmaster Mr. Pollard sold out to C. C. Eaton in June, 1905. During Mr. Eaton's ownership the plant was rebuilt entirely and the equipment much enlarged, making The Messenger plant one of the best and most up-to-date of any to be found in a small town. In February, 1912, H. B. West, the present publisher, purchased the paper. The paper has received liberal support at the hands of the business men and citizens of Morgan and community.
The Walnut Grove Tribune. The first newspaper printed in Walnut Grove was run off the press Aug. 13, 1891. The founder was Joseph N. Byington, an eastern man, who had come to Minnesota to farm and had moved to Walnut Grove from Murray county. The paper was named "Rural Center," as it was Mr. Byington's ambition to have his town a center in both the spiritual and material development of the community. He always maintained an editorial column of a high order and wrote vigorously in behalf of progressive principles, to some extent as advocated by the People's party. In form the paper was a six column quarto.
On Oct. 25, 1900, he sold the paper to Hulburt & Gleason, partly because of political opposition, and to save the town from having to support also another paper which was talked of. He retired from active business and passed away June 17, 1906.
The new proprietors at once changed the name of the paper to Walnut Grove Tribune, which is its present name. The editorial end was managed by A. C. Gleason, who was a brilliant writer, but careless of details. The form was cut down to a five-column quarto, which was changed to a short six-column quarto in June the next year, and this again was enlarged in October, 1901, to a full six-column quarto, which had been its original size, and which is still being maintained. A. C. Gleason became sole owner and editor in October, 1901, and ran the paper until March 20, 1902, when it was sold to Geo. M. Long, an Iowa newspaper man. He was a good printer and built up the plant mechanically by the addition of a cylinder press and other improvements. In politics he also took an active part on the Republican side and was appointed postmaster in January, 1903, but died on August 9, the same year, of typhoid fever, at the early age of 32 years.
R. W. Stewart, foreman at the office, managed the paper for the estate until in October, 1903, when arrangements were made whereby he became proprietor, and being a good printer, ran a creditable paper and job plant until April 6, 1905, when he sold his interest and moved to Ceylon, this state, where he is located at present.
The new editor was Wm. G. Owens, at that time an attorney at Walnut Grove, later county attorney, and now located at Williston, N. D. On March 1, 1906, he sold his interest to Chas. E. Lantz, the present publisher, who bought the plant from the Long estate, and has run a politically and otherwise independent paper. In August, 1915, the Tribune took over the subscription list of the Revere Record, which having been published at Revere for 15 years was suspended by its editor, Owen M. Parry.
The Sentinel. The newspaper field of the south side of Redwood county was greatly enlivened by the appearance on May 5, 1893, of the first edition of the Sanborn Sentinel, published at Sanborn. The town itself was one of the live towns of Redwood county and for a number of years the merchants had been calling for a newspaper of their own. The editor and publisher of the paper was C. K. Blandin, and from the outset he injected into the news and editorial columns a spirit of active publicity and generous boosting and hard knocking. It was in the early part of 1894 that Mr. Blandin made himself conspicuous all over Redwood county by issuing a political edition that created a genuine sensation among all of the Republican politicians and followers of that county. The edition had a remarkable effect upon the county conventions of that year and Mr. Blandin was convinced that his purpose had been accomplished. The Sentinel continued as a prosperous sheet for the first year of its existence. However, the town was small, the field limited, and in addition, the publisher was so active in politics and in his local field that he made the usual number of enemies. Support commenced to dwindle and the publication was discontinued and the outfit moved to Olivia, Renville county. Mr. Blandin is now the successful business manager of the St. Paul Dispatch and Pioneer Press.
Sanborn, however, was not long without a newspaper, for Sept. 7, 1896, the Sentinel again made its appearance with A. D. McRae as the publisher, and in September of 1898, it was sold to L. M. Reppey.
Still later, or in 1900, George E. Bartholomew became the editor and publisher. Mr. Bartholomew was an educator by profession, but drifted into the newspaper field with the hopes that it would be beneficial to his health. He was a genial person and made more friends in the newspaper field than the average publisher. He became a candidate for county office but was defeated. He was postmaster at Sanborn during a portion of his residence there, and in April of 1904, he was obliged to close out his interests in the Sentinel, and with his wife, moved to Colorado with the hopes of regaining his health.
His successor was Angus D. McRae, a Redwood county product, who revived the Sentinel after its suspension under Mr. Blandin, and who continued as editor and publisher until January, 1910. Mr. McRae was, like Mr Bartholomew, a publisher who made friends not only at home, but throughout the county. He became a candidate for register of deeds of Redwood county in 1908, and was elected, and he has been holding that position ever since. He closed out his interests in the paper to Grover Posz, a son of Geo. Posz of Sanborn, who had acquired some knowledge of printing in the Sentinel office under Mr. McRae 's management. Mr. Posz did not continue long at the helm and on Sept. 11, 1912, he turned the plant back to Mr. McRae, and on Oct. 23, 1912, the building containing the postoffice and the printing office burned and the following week the remains of the plant were sold to H. E. Kent. Mr. Kent received his training as a printer in a printing office at Sleepy Eye. He came to Sanborn with youthful newspaper enthusiasm and has made the Sentinel one of the active newspapers of Redwood county. By reason of his activity he was appointed postmaster at Sanborn and now conducts the postoffice as well as the Sentinel.
The destruction of the files of the Sentinel by fire several years ago has made it impossible to secure the exact date as to the number of changes of the paper, but the gentleman mentioned above were all interested in the Sentinel during the periods mentioned. It is well to state that A. D. McRae, who has been one of the political and business successes of Redwood county, and the present Sentinel publisher, as well as those of the future, will always point to the present register of deeds of Redwood county with pardonable pride.
When Mr. McRae re-established the Sentinel in 1896 he purchased the greater part of the outfit from the Morgan Messenger, the press alone being purchased from another party, Fred A. Wright, of the Springfield Advance. It was a Mann hand cylinder press, the only one of its kind in the state of Minnesota at that time, and it was sold to Mr. McRae for $15. Mr. McRae has often informed the writer that to really appreciate the value of the press it was necessary for a person to operate it.
The Belview Independent. Running along the north side of Redwood county from the Minnesota river where it passes through the village of Morton in Renville county, and following very nearly the course of the Minnesota until it passes out of the western boundary line of Redwood county, is the Minneapolis and St. Louis railroad. This railroad was originally intended to be constructed through what is now the city of Redwood Palls, and from thence in a due westerly course to Marshall, and further on, to South Dakota. But when the construction crew reached Morton, there was a financial crash and when the work of extension was again taken up, for some reason known only in railroad circles, the company deviated from the original course and pursued the present route through the remaining portion of Minnesota and into South Dakota. The construction of this line was followed by the location of three different townsites — one at North Redwood, the second at Delhi, and the third at Belview. The village of Belview is apparently now the largest one of these three villages. It is the only one of the three villages that is blessed with a newspaper. Prior to 1895, Belview, as well as the other two villages, were given departments in the two papers at Redwood Falls, the latter vying with one another as to which could give the best service and make the best showing. Belview was given unusual space for the weekly doings and the businessmen patronized the Redwood Falls papers accordingly. The Redwood Gazette was long the official paper of the village, but in about 1895 there appeared Frank E. Harris, an excellent printer and a good news gatherer, and with him came the Belview Independent. Mr. Harris was an original character, but could not refrain from the pleasantries of life, and within a year or two after he established the paper, he disposed of it to W. T. "Wasson, son of J. B. Wasson, a blacksmith of Redwood Falls. Young Wasson had some knowledge of the printing business, but never as a newspaper man. He was residing on a farm south of Belview with his mother at the time he made the purchase. The paper lost some of its former ginger and Mr. Wasson disposed of the plant about 1900 to H. M. Keene, who was also a printer and a newsgatherer, and who made little more than a living in conducting the enterprise. Mr. Keene, in about the same length of time, disposed of the paper to two young men under the firm name of Ehlers & Halberg, who continued the paper for two more years, when it was sold to F. G. Tuttle, and the latter continued the publication until some time about 1912.
Fred G. Tuttle possessed more newspaper experience than most of the newspaper men in Minnesota. His political experience was correspondingly great. He had conducted newspapers in various parts of the state, and was one of the important factors in the big Kindred-Nelson congressional fight in the Old Fifth Minnesota district. Quitting the newspaper field in that section he traveled into southern Minnesota and either owned or controlled papers at Echo, Vesta and Milroy during or before the time that he settled in Belview. "Dad" Tuttle, as he was more familiarly known, was a pleasant writer when telling of news, but he was bitter, vindictive, and convincing in his political writings, and when he finally disposed of his plant to take up newspaper life in Montana, there were many of the politicians of Redwood county ready to express thanks. He sold the paper to L. F. and C. A. Johnson, and the latter two young men are still the owners and are keeping the paper in pace with the big business progress and prosperity of Belview and the rich farming district surrounding the town. "Dad" Tuttle moved to Paxton, Montana, where he started another paper. His declining health, however, caused his death, in 1915.
The Revere Record. The eighth newspaper to be established in Redwood county was the Revere Record. The place of its publication was Revere, between Lamberton and Walnut Grove. It is a town that was never able to properly support a paper. The census of 1910 gave it only a population of 134, while there were established newspapers in the towns on either side. But C. W. Folsom, a newspaper man, who never hesitated in establishing newspapers and who came from northeastern Minnesota, was convinced that Revere would get back of the Record. He established the paper in May of 1901, and continued as editor until Sept. 29, 1904, running a six-column quarto paper with six pages printed by the patent inside houses.
On Sept. 29, 1904, R. D. Crow became the editor and business manager, Folsom remaining as publisher, though the style of the firm is given in the Record of that date as Revere Publishing Co., with H. H. Dahl, then a well known banker of Revere, as having some interest in the company. On November 10, 1904, it was enlarged to a seven-column quarto, with a patent inside; and the ownership passed to Peer Storoegard on Dec. 14, 1904. Each edition of the paper showed that while the business houses of Revere were giving it support, the publisher must be dragging out a mighty poor existence. Mr. Storoegard continued as the publisher until the fall of 1912, when the paper passed into the ownership of Owen Parry, and on August 5, 1915, the paper, after over fourteen years of struggling for existence, suspended publication, the editor in his valedictory stating that the receipts from the advertising had been only $12.00 per month ever since he had assumed control.
The Wabasso Standard. In 1899 the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad Company, fearing the construction of a line of railroad through the central portion of Redwood county by the Chicago Great Western Company, which latter company then had Mankato for its terminal point, concluded to head off the construction of a new railroad line by an opposing company in what it termed its territory, by constructing the line from Sanborn northwest to Vesta, and later by extending the line from Sleepy Eye to Marshall. This made Redwood county, with the single exception of the Minneapolis & St. Louis railroad on the extreme north, distinctly Chicasro & Northwestern territory.
With the construction of the line from Sanborn to Vesta there grew up the towns of "Wanda, Wabasso, Seaforth and Vesta. Seaforth at the outset being known as Okawa, the Indian name for pike.
With the establishing of the towns there came that one advance agent of civilization, the newspaper, and on April 20, 1900, there appeared the first issue of the Standard, published at Wabasso, the latter name being the Indian name for "the land of the white rabbit." W. F. Mahler was the editor and publisher, and was a remarkable young printer. He was gifted with more than ordinary talent for conducting a print shop and doing a fine line of printing. He was an excellent pressman in addition, and with his newspaper talent made the Wabasso Standard one of the neatest appearing papers in Redwood county. The town, however, was not large enough for him, and after spending a year or more with the Gazette at Redwood Falls, he purchased the Advance at Springfield, where he is now located. He sold the Standard on Nov. 7, 1902, to A. Clark Gleason, who came from Walnut Grove, and who, like Mahler, was an excellent printer and a good newspaper man. Mr. Gleason likewise found Wabasso too small for his talent, and on Oct. 14, 1904, disposed of the plant to James A. Larson, of Walnut Grove, the present assistant secretary of state, who bought the paper for the fun and experience of learning how to run a newspaper. Shortly afterwards the paper was controlled by Gooler & Larson, L. A. Gooler of Lamberton, associating himself with Mr. Larson in the publication, but on Oct. 25, 1907, this firm sold the paper to Messrs. Wiecks & Truedson, two young men hailing from Walnut Grove, and who were induced to make the purchase through the good offices of Mr. Larson. These two gentlemen sold the plant to Edward G. Weldon on May 7, 1909, and the latter has since conducted the newspaper with a good degree of success and is its present owner.
Bright Eyes and Vesta Censor. The tenth newspaper to be established in Redwood county was the Vesta Bright Eyes, of which the Vesta Censor is the successor. Vesta is the terminus of the extension of the railroad from Sanborn northwest to that village. Long before the railroad was even thought of, there resided on one of the large agricultural tracts near the townsite, a well educated gentleman of English descent, by the name of James Arnold. Mr. Arnold had been county commissioner for that district for a number of years. He was rich in thought and was able to commit his thoughts to writing in an excellent manner. Before the first edition of the Bright Eyes was published, Arnold was a frequent contributor to all of the county papers on the political issues of the day, and with the coming of the railroad he saw a better opportunity to give a more complete publication to his thoughts. After conducting the paper for two years he finally sold the plant to M. E. Lewis, a young Redwood county man, who had acquired some knowledge of the printing business in different offices of the county. Mr. Lewis conducted the plant for a couple of years, when he finally took as a partner Harvey Harris, who had come to Vesta as a townsite boomer and as an agent for the Western Town Lot Company. At the time of this partnership, or on July 20, 1904, the name was changed to the Vesta Censor, and the firm continued the publication until June 1, 1906, when Mr. Harris purchased the interest of Mr. Lewis and became owner of the plant. He announces that he is still the owner, publisher, editor and devil, and during all the time he has been in control there have been only five compositors, all ladies, employed in the shop, four of them retiring from their occupation to become popular wives, and each printing their own wedding stationery before leaving the office.
Mr. Harris was engaged in the mercantile business during his early years and afterwards engaged in railroading, telegraph operator and then working on a farm for two years. He came to Minnesota in 1900 and was cashier in the bank at Sherburn before moving to Vesta. Harris is a versatile, pugnacious little fellow and has always been sufficiently independent to denounce bad politics, bad business methods, and to boost for a good man for office. He maintains that his paper is Republican, but not-withstanding his politics, he maintains an independent attitude. The Censor has kept Vesta well on the map and has been a good advertising medium for that section of the county. In addition to running the newspaper Mr. Harris finds time to engage in the breeding of pure bred poultry and also in the breeding of Cornish Indian game chickens.
The Milroy Echo. The eleventh paper to be established in Redwood county was the Milroy Echo, the first edition being printed on May 5, 1902, at Milroy, on the line of the Chicago & Northwestern between Wabasso and Marshall. The veteran newspaper man, F. G. Tuttle, together with his son, Roy Tuttle, established the paper and continued its publication for a year or two when it was sold to J. A. Looney, a young Redwood county citizen, who had no knowledge of the printing business, and who, prior to 1905, disposed of the plant to E. M. Wilson. In 1910 Mr. Wilson purchased the Lamberton Star from W. C. Starr, and in turn sold the Echo to Max W. Johnson, the latter issuing his first number on May 1 of that year. Mr. Johnson was born and raised in Redwood county, and has not only given Milroy a good newspaper, but has made hosts of friends in the county.
The Wanda Pioneer Press. In 1902, at the commencement of a strenuous political campaign, Paul Dehnel, a native of Renville county, who had acquired a knowledge of the newspaper and printing business in that county, established the Wanda Pioneer Press, the publication being made from the village of Wanda, a town between Sanborn and Wabasso, with a much smaller population than even the village of Revere had at that time. Mr. Dehnel took an active part in the primary and general election campaigns, and finding insufficient support for his publication after the campaign was over, moved the plant to Fairfax, Renville county, where he established an opposition paper, but continued it for a short time only. He has since conducted newspapers at Worthington, Springfield and Bemidji, and is now engaged in the newspaper business at Sleepy Eye. Mr. Dehnel was twice the progressive candidate for representative in congress from the Second district, but failed of election both times.
Seaforth Item. Between 1900 and 1903 G. Roy Tuttle, son of the veteran newspaper man, F. G. Tuttle, established a paper in Seaforth, known as the Seaforth Item. Young Tuttle was versatile in the extreme and conducted an aggressive paper and even made way with a large portion of the county printing on one or two occasions. He conducted the Item until some time in 1908, when he disposed of the same to A. W. Milbradt, a business man of Seaforth, who conducted the paper in an excellent manner up to the time of his death, March 28, 1913, and the Item was conducted by his widow and son up to July 1, 1915. The paper is now conducted by his son, Ernest Milbradt.
Other Papers. This closes the list of bona fide newspapers in Redwood county. As far back as 1880, King Bros., engaged in a dry goods business at Redwood Falls, published the Redwood Merchant, a monthly folio sheet of five columns to the page, in the interests of their store. The firm circulated 1,000 of these papers each month gratis and aside from advertising the different articles in their institution the Merchant contained some interesting paragraphs. The paper suspended with the retirement of the firm from business. It was printed in the office of the Redwood Gazette and the writer of this article, as well as his old partner, James Aiken, and his predecessor as devil in the Gazette printing office, A. C. Weiss, now of the Duluth Herald, will recall the strenuous days in working at the old Washington hand press one entire day during each month in getting out the edition.
In the late nineties, a Norwegian magazine called "Norma" was published at Walnut Grove for two years by Peer Storoegaard, some time afterwards editor of the Revere Record. This magazine was a monthly and published in the "Landsmaal," as distinguished from the literary Norwegian, which is a close adaptation of the Danish, and it is claimed to have been the first publication of its kind in the Western hemisphere. It was revived again in 1914 by its founder and editor, Mr. Storoegaard, who publishes it at 313 Broadway, Fargo, N. Dak.
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