History of American Journalism

by James Melvin Lee

Transcribed by Karen Seeman





The first newspaper published within the present boundaries of South Dakota was The Dakota Democrat, founded at Sioux Falls City, now Sioux Falls, September 20, 1858. Its owner and publisher was Samuel J. Albright. He published the paper, which was a four-page sheet with five columns to the page, rather irregularly until July 2, 1859. After that date he rarely skipped an issue until the autumn of 1860, when he turned the paper over to Mr. Stewart, who changed its name to The Northwestern Democrat. The reason for this change was that Albright took with him the original heading of the paper — The Democrat — and the new owner was forced to use one which had been previously employed in printing a paper at Sergeant Bluffs, Iowa. When the Indian war broke out in 1862, the settlement of Sioux Falls was abandoned. In sacking the town the Indians destroyed the printing-plant, but carried away most of the type. After peace was declared the type came back again to the whites in the shape of ornaments used to decorate the pipes which the Indians fashioned out of the red pipe stone and sold to the settlers. The Dakota Democrat was "the official organ" of the Legislature which first convened at Sioux Falls, 1858-59.

The second paper, The Weekly Dakotaian, the oldest continuous newspaper in South Dakota, was established in Yankton, June 6,1861, by Frank M. Ziebach. In March, 1862, it was sold to J. C. Trask, the first Public Printer. The daily edition was started April 26, 1875. William Kiser started The Pantegraph at Sioux Falls in February, 1872. This newspaper was printed on the cooperative plan and was published at irregular intervals until October, when it went into "winter headquarters." It was revived in April, 1873, and was again published with occasional interruptions until the spring of 1877 when the plant was closed by an order of the court. Later, the material of the plant was used in starting The Roscoe Express. Of the other early editors of The Pantograph, mention may be made of F. D. Cowles, F. E. Everett, and W. S. Guild.

Another paper in Sioux Falls was The Independent, which was first issued on May 15, 1875, by Charles W. McDonald; on January 6, 1881, it was merged with The Dakota Pantegraph. Among those who edited the newspaper before this merger were E. A. Sherman, F. E. Everett, W. A. Williams, and L. C. Hitchcock. The Dakota Pantegraph was started in Sioux Falls in the spring of 1877 by G. M. Smith and M. Grigsby. The press and type used to bring out this paper had been formerly employed to get out The Era at Swan Lake. Grigsby continued as editor until April, 1878, when The Pantegraph was sold to Caldwell & Stahl.

Other early papers in South Dakota were The Dakota Union, established at Yankton, June 21, 1864, by George W. Kingsbury; The Press, at Yankton, August 10, 1870, by George H. Hand; The Dell City Journal, established in 1871, was an interesting innovation in the journalism of South Dakota in that this newspaper was printed at Webster City, Iowa, but was issued at Dell Rapids, South Dakota, by J. C. Ervin; The Advocate, at Canton, April 26, 1876, by Skinner & Tallman; The Times, at Sioux Falls, November 15, 1878, by E. O. Kimberly and C. M. Morse; The Exponent, at Dell Rapids, February, 1879, by E. C. Whalen; The Centind, at Madison, April, 1879, by J. H. Zane and F. L. Fifeld; The Leader, at Herman, June, 1879, by F. C. Stowe; The Beadle County Sentinel, at Huron, March 17, 1880, by John Cain.


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