All Stearns County newspapers are available at the Stearns History Museum in microfilm format. The Minnesota Historical Society likely has all Stearns papers on microfilm and the St. Cloud Library probably contains microfilm for newspapers that were published in St. Cloud.
Transcribed by Phil Holm from:
Title: History of Stearns County
Publisher: Chicago : H.C. Cooper, Jr., & Co. c1915
Author: William Bell Mitchell
On pages 1421 to 1426 of Volume II, the Chapter L titled “The Newspaper Press”.
“The history of the newspapers of Stearns county is limited to fifty-eight years. It starts in St. Cloud and covers the three cities and several villages. It is the history of public spirit, hard work and for the most part, distinguished ability. In St. Cloud it is remarkable for the length of service of the editors, and for the comparatively few changes in the three surviving papers. Another remarkable feature, and which illustrates the law of the survival of the fittest, is that in the cities and villages outside of St. Cloud there is only one paper in each — a most wise policy for the cities and villages and for the papers. But there have been some strenuous times in arriving at this happy solution, and these represent the personal phases of pioneer journalism, when lack of news was supplemented by attacks of the editors on each other, which were clearly libelous. But it was a give-and-take game, and on the whole the libel suits were few, if any. One printing office was sacked and the press thrown in the river, which is the only instance of the laying on of hands, and public indignation and public assistance soon righted this act of vandalism.
“St. Cloud early gained fame through Jane Grey Swisshelm, famous author, lecturer and journalist. She was a most forceful writer, and none of her successors have quite equalled her sizzling editorial or the vitriol of her attacks. But she was true to her convictions, a woman unafraid, and who did a great service to the city and the county in making St. Cloud and Stearns count known at the time when the tide of immigration was rolling westward to the Mississippi and beyond, and her value as a publicity agent of the fertile acres — now cultivated by many thousands of prosperous farmers, and the various villages and the three cities within the county — is beyond measure. Her successor was W. B. Mitchell, who for nearly a third of a century published and edited one of the strongest and best known papers in the state. He was succeeded in 1892 by Alvah Eastman, who is still in the harness.
“C. F. Macdonald has the longest editorial record of any man in the county for continuous service, and at this writing is entering upon his forty-first year, a man of great ability and who has made his paper one of the leaders of his party in the state.
“Gerhard May has been editor of the German Paper, which is today one of the best known papers in the state published in the language of the Fatherland, for thirty-one consecutive years. He has seen other German papers come and go, and is today the sole survivor of editors of papers printed in a foreign language not only on Stearns county but in central Minnesota.
“Three St. Cloud editors have been honored with the presidency of the Minnesota Editorial Association, and two of these have been secretary of the association — a record probably not equaled by any other city of the size of St. Cloud.
“There were other attempts to establish papers in St. Cloud, among them being the St. Cloud Tribune, by Walter C. Brower, which lasted only a short time; Der Anzeiger (German), and the St. Cloud Herald, a labor paper, but the people of St. Cloud wisely decided that two English and one German paper were sufficient, and that it was better to have three excellent papers, vigorous and prosperous, than to have more of poorer quality.
“Sauk Centre has been the home of editors of note, who did their share in publishing the development of their city and the county. In the early days there was C. F. Hendryx, orator and polished writer, one of the old type of editors, who was zealous of his editorial columns, but who was an indifferent business man; J. V. and Walter C. Brower, men of great energy and ability; E. P. Barnum, a man of pleasing personality, prominent in his party, and his son Frank, energetic, good-hearted and erratic/ Frank M. Eddy, congressman for four terms, one of the ablest men of the state, and a witty paragrapher and profound writer; A. M. Wells, a thorough newspaper man, who combined keen business ability with the newspaper instinct, and who is now published of the Worthington Globe. The worthy successor of these and other shining lights at Sauk Centre is Asa M. Wallace, a genial and experienced newspaper man, who is president of the Northern Minnesota Editorial Association.
“Among the pioneer editors is Dr. J. E. Campbell, of Melrose, who started the Sun and maintained it largely at his own expense probably until it was able to make its own way when he retired. He is one of the honored men of the medical profession, and of his city and county, and has served Melrose as mayor many terms.
“This much by way of preface. The following history of the individual papers is prepared from data furnished by the respective editors, and tells the story of a half century that has converted the unbroken prairies and primeval forests into the fourth most wealthy county in Minnesota, with three cities and many villages and towns, all progressive and prosperous–and in the development the press has been the leader and the prophet, poet and the sage.
“The Journal-Press and its Predecessors. — The first paper published in St. Cloud was the Minnesota Advertiser, the initial number being dated January 1, 1857. It was a seven-column sheet, motto: “Neutral–but Independent,” with Democratic leanings. Geo. F. Brott, proprietor, of Lower St. Cloud, was owner of the paper; Caleb West was publisher, and for the first two or three months H. W. Coles was editor. He was succeeded by James C. Shepley, an attorney. In running off the first numbers the printer was forced to use buckskin balls, in place of rollers for inking the type. During the fall of that year the Advertiser ceased to exist. On December 10, 1857, with the old material of the Advertiser, was issued the first number of the St. Cloud Visitor, Mrs. Jane G. Swisshelm, editor; James Mowatt, publisher. Its size was reduced to six columns to the page. In politics it was strongly antislavery. Before daylight on the morning of March 24, 1858, (after the outside of the No. 9 of the Visitor had been printed) the office was broken into by parties who were displeased with Mrs. Swisshelm’s policy, the press was taken to pieces and the more necessary parts of it, together with a large portion of the type, were thrown into the Mississippi river or scattered along the street. A threatening letter signed by a “Committee of Vigilance” was found on the editorial table. A meeting of the citizens was promptly held, and the perpetrators of the outrage denounced and measures taken for procuring a new press and type. On May 13, 1858, No. 9 of the paper, printed from the new material, appeared as a six-column sheet– Mrs. Jane G. Swisshelm, editor; Mr. Mowatt, publisher. Mr. Mowatt’s relations as publisher ceased after this issue, and the mechanical part of the paper was placed in the hands of a journeyman printer.
“The material was owned by a joint stock company, the editorial control only being under charge of Mrs. Swisshelm. A libel suit of $10,000 having been instituted against the company by James C. Shepley, on account of a certain article in the paper alleged to be personal, the publication of the Visitor was suspended on July 29, 1858. The office, type, press, etc. were at that time transferred to Mrs. Swisshelm for the nominal sum of one dollar. On the fifth of August, 1858, appeared the first number of the St. Cloud Democrat (same size as the Visitor), with Mrs. Swisshelm as editor and proprietor. On June 11, 1863, the establishment was purchased by W. B. Mitchell; and on November 26 of the same year the paper was enlarged to a seven-column sheet and various improvements were made in its make-up. On September 13, 1866, a new power press having been put in the office, the paper was enlarged to nine columns to the page and the name changed to the St. Cloud Journal.
“In 1872 a stock company composed of several of the then prominent citizens started the St. Cloud Press, and this was continued for four years, under the management of various editors, Charles McKinney serving for the longest time. In 1876 it was purchased by Mr. Mitchell, and consolidated with the Journal-Press, which title it still retains. Mr. Mitchell sold the paper and plant in September, 1892, to the Journal-Press Company, have been continuously connected with the Journal-Press and its predecessors for thirty-five years, being the sole owner and editor for nearly thirty years.
“The Journal-Press company on the date of its purchase of the plant, September 3, 1893, established the Daily Journal-Press, and it has since been continuously under the editorship of Alvah Eastman. It has in these years been equipped with linotype machines, perfecting press, and besides the eight-paged daily, issued a twice-a-week paper, eight pages each and was the first paper in central Minnesota to get its general news by wire.
“One noteworthy experience of this paper is the many men who have won success, who were for a time connected with the Journal-Press company, either as city editors or in a business capacity. C. S. Mitchell, the brilliant chief editorial writer of the Duluth News-Tribune, was its city editor for ten years. He was succeeded by Harvey W. Grimmer, now president of the Fritz-Cross Printing Company, and for several years Governor Johnson’s executive clerk. Other men who have held this position are Arthur Gorman, private secretary to Congressman Lindbergh; Dr. Philip E. Stangl, St. Cloud; W. C. Hammerel, of St. Paul; Harold Knutsen, St. Cloud; Wm. McGregor, attorney, St. Paul; and Fritz Stangl, who is attending the Chicago University–all city editors. Those graduating from the business and mechanical departments of the paper are James R. Jerrard, secretary and manager of the Security Blank Book and Publishing Company; Earl D. Cross, manager of the Fritz-Cross Printing Company; Andrew E. Fritz, public examiner of Minnesota, St. Paul; Peter E. Honer, editor of the Cold Spring Record, and Calvert S. Eastman, assistant of the W. F. Hall Printing Company, of Chicago.
“Three of those who have answered the final call were Maurice W. Eastman, who was successively newsboy, printer, city editor and vice-president of the company, and who during these years graduated with honors from Dartmouth College; John W. Eastman, editor and proprietor of the Thief River Falls News, and H. C. Henderson, editor and proprietor of the Verndale Sun.
“The present business manager is J. F. Gaspard, who has successfully held this position for eleven years, and is secretary of the company; Henry Z. Mitchell is city editor, and Edward Hedlund, superintendent of subscriptions.
“Daily and Weekly St. Cloud Times. –The St. Cloud Times is an outgrowth of the St. Cloud Union, which was established on July 7, 1861, by Gen. S. B. Lowry with material formerly used by W. H. Wood in the publication of the New Era at Sauk Rapids; Gen. C. C. Andrews was the editor. In 1862 the office reverted to Mr. Wood, by whom the Union continued to be published until 1863, when it was sold to Spafford & Simonton, In 1864 R. Chaning Moore assumed the editorial management and changed the name to the St. Cloud Times, the publishers being Spafford & Simonton. The Times has been own by Simonton Bros., Simonton & Barnes, A. J. Reed, L. A. Evans & J. J. Green, L. A. Evans, R. W. Delano, Lamb & Rhodes, William H. Lamb, and finally C. F. Macdonald, the present editor and principal owner, into whose hands it passed on January 13, 1875. During the first fourteen years of its existence the Times had fourteen editors or publishers. In the last forty Years, Mr. Macdonald has been the sole editor of the paper. In November, 1872, the office together with all the material, presses, files, etc., were destroyed by fire; but in a short time new material was secured and the publication was continued. On September 27, 1887, C. F. Macdonald established the Daily Times, being the first daily published in St. Cloud. January 1, 1903, Fred Schilplin bought an interest in the Times and became business manager. The concern was incorporated under the general laws of the state June 1, 1907, under the name of “The Times Publishing Company,” with a capital of $30,000. June 1, 1914, the capital was increased to $38,500, because of the purchase of a building and lot valued at $10,000. During all its history the Times has been Democratic in politics and has advocated the principles of the party and the election of its candidates.
“Der Nordstern. –At the time Der Nordstern was started there was a real demand for a local German Newspaper to be published in the city of St. Cloud. In the month of December, 1872, Peter Brick and P. E. Kaiser issued two sample copies. two weeks apart, of Der Nordstern and sent the sample copies to all addresses they were able to obtain from the tax lists in Stearns county, with the request to the recipients to subscribe for the new German newspaper. On January 1, 1873, Der Nordstern had over 800 bona fide subscribers and this number has been growing ever since until now the paper has over 7,000 subscribers. The paper was published under the firm name of Brick & Kaiser. In politics Der Nordstern has at all times been a Democratic newspaper, Mr. Brick edited the paper the first year; after that he sold his interest to his brother Leo Brick, an accomplished printer. Mr. Kaiser took charge of the editorial department of the paper until he sold his interest in 1875 to Joseph L. Meyer. The firm name of the publishers was changed to Brick & Meyer. Mr. Meyer was editor of the paper until 1876, when he sold his interest to P. E. Kaiser, the former owner. The firm name was again changed to Brick & Kaiser. In 1882 John Rentz, William L. Rosenberger and Joseph L. Meyer bought out Brick & Kaiser, the firm name being now Meyer, Rosenberger & Rentz; the same year Joseph L. Meyer sold his interest to Wm. L Rosenberger and John Rentz. In 1887 J. P. Hammerel bought a third interest from Rosenberger & Rentz, Mr. Rentz later selling his interest to Wm. L. Rosenberger. The following named gentlemen were at different times editor of the paper: R. Rueppling, Gerhard May, Theodore Bruener, H. J. Hengstebeck, Nic Bohnen and J. L. Stagemann. On December 1, 1982, Rosenberger & Hammerel sold Der Nordstern to the Nordstern Publishing Company, a corporation. The first officers of the company were: Rev James Weysters, president; P. E. Kaiser, secretary; Frank Zins, treasurer and manager. The first board of directors were: Rev J. P. Bauer, Rev B. Richter and Peter Brick. The present officers of the company are: Frank Zins, President; J. B. Himsl, vice-president; G. L. Rosenberger, secretary and manager. Gerhard May has uninterruptedly been the efficient editor of Der Nordstern from 1884 to this day. For the last eighteen years Carl Thiele has been the outside manager of the publishing business.
Second in importance to St. Cloud have been the papers published in Sauk Centre. The first attempt in this line was made in 1866 by George McLaughlin in the establishment of the Sauk Valley News. Its life, however, was of short duration, measured by months. The real editor made his appearance upon the scene in the following year, in the person of Joseph H. Simonton. Picking up the derelict paper he started the Sauk Centre Herald, the first issue appearing on June 6, 1867. In the transfer from McLaughlin to Mr. Simonton there was one asset possessed of historical significance. It was the press. This was the first printing press brought into the territory of Minnesota; it had formerly been the property of James M. Goodhue, of St. Paul, who printed upon it, on April 28, 1849, the first newspaper ever published in Minnesota, the Minnesota Pioneer. Joseph Simonton was Joined by his brother Samuel in July, 1867, and together they conducted the Herald until its disposal to Charles F. Hendryx in 1879. Hale and Hearty, and in his seventy-fifth year, Joseph Simonton still resides at Sauk Centre, one of the city’s most highly esteemed citizens. The Herald continued under the management of Mr. Hendryx until 1903, when it was sold to the Hon. Frank M. Eddy, by whom it was transferred in turn in 1907 to A. M. Welles. From the possession of Mr. Welles it passed, in 1913, into the hands of Asa M. Wallace, its present energetic and popular editor.
“In 1880, Walter C. and J. V. Brower brought into existence the Stearns County Tribune, with Walter C. Brower acting as editor. The paper after a few years was removed to St. Cloud. Upon the heels of this newspaper venture, a peregrinating printer by the name of Max Nicolas established the Sauk Centre Avalanche. This paper ran a varied course. Controlled by Nicolas only a few years, it passed into the possession of E. P. Barnum by whom it was ably edited until his death. After the death of his father, F. E. Barnum managed the Avalanche until its disposal to J. M. Michaelson in 1901. The active administration of Mr. Michaelson raised the standing of the paper in the community to a remarkable degree, but failing health compelling him to relinquish his undertaking, it was merged with the Herald and sold to Mr. Eddy in 1903.
“Melrose’s first paper was the Record, started in 1877 by Donald R. Macdonald and who sold it in 1881 to Charles F. Hendryx, who six months later removed it to Sauk Centre and consolidated it with the Sauk Centre herald. In the fall of 1882 Campbell & Dorcy established the Melrose Sun. Dorcy sold his interest in 1884 to D. Grein, who died the following year. Dr. Campbell then obtained the entire ownership, and published it until 1893, when he removed it to Belgrade, Two years later he returned to Melrose with the paper, changing its name to the Melrose Beacon. The paper was leased to Mr. Batchellor, who published it until 1897, when he was succeded by Sid Hunter, for a few months. That year it was purchased from Dr. Campbell by J. C. Martin, who was an energetic newspaper man, but sold it in a short time, owing to ill health, to D. W. Bath. The latter published it for four years, and was succeeded by A. F. Steffin, who was its publisher until 1913, when he disposed of the paper, which is now owned by Elmour D. Lum.
“The history of newspaperdom in the village of Albany has had many changes in the trials of its career of nearly nine years, when the first paper was launched within its boundaries. Will R. Schutz is honored with the establishment of the Albany Tribune in November, 1906, which he conducted until April 30, 1909, when he sold it to Alois Lenarz, who ran the paper for some time, after which it suspended publication. Being without a paper for a short time only convinced its citizens that a town needs its local paper, and on March 30, 1910, a new sheet was born and christened the Albany Enterprise, under the management of S. D. Pierce. On August 4 of the same year found the Enterprise without a publisher and Editor Nelson, of the Holdingford Advertiser, was induced to come down to Albany and revive it. After three weeks a deal was completed whereby Editor Nelson took over the plant. He held the reins until March 4, 1912, when he disposed of the business and outfit to W. M. Kommerstad, who has conducted the paper up to this time. The Enterprise has for its size one of the best equipped plants in the county.
“The Belgrade Tribune, published by W. P. Lemmer, is the representative of the southwestern section of the county. It is in its nineteenth year, according to the volume number, but the writer has been unable to obtain any information regarding its history. The Tribune of today is a well-edited and enterprising paper.
“The Record was started by Honer Brothers (X. A. and Peter T.) in1899, the first issue appearing October 11. The partnership continued until January 1, 1900, when Peter T. Honer became sole owner, buying the half interest of his brother for $50, the field being too small for two owners. The Record, now under the continued ownership of Mr. Honer. occupies its own building, is well equipped mechanically and is enjoying prosperity.
“The Informant was established in 1911, and A. E. Anderberg is its editor and proprietor. It is an excellent local paper, and represents one of the best sections of the county.
“The Advertiser was established in November 12, 1908, by F. O. Hanson, “who led the paper and the town a merry chase” until December 2, 1909, when he sold the plant to C. O. Nelson, who has been in command since, and has made the Advertiser one of the bright and sparkling papers of the county.
“The Kimball Kodak was established in March, 1901, and is a worthy representative of its enterprising village. Frank E. Smith is the editor and proprietor, and his popularity is attested by his appointment as postmaster, which honor came to him without opposiiton.
“The Paynesville Press, which is the survivor of one of the fiercest newspaper wars in the history of the county, was established by George R. Stephens December 8, 1887. The building of the “Soo” road started a rival town to the one on the Great Northern line, and the Press was starter to boom “New Paynesville.” Paynesville on the Great Northern was championed by the News, published by Krause Brothers. The Soo location proved the stronger, and soon had most of the old town moved over to the village site, and the News soon tired of the unequal fight and sold out to the Press. Mr. Stephens was an excellent newspaper man, and a good business man as well, and made it a good property. The office was destroyed, but no issue of the paper was omitted, being printed by the Journal-Press until the new equipment arrived. Mr. Stephens is now a resident of Oklahoma, and his successors have been Charles Henke (now publisher of the Dassel Anchor), W. W. Holmes, of Montana; C. F. Folsom (publisher of the Wayzata Reporter), and George A. Hanna, the present owner and editor of the Press. Mr. Folsom started the Paynesville Leader in 1908, and two years later bought the Press of W. W. Holmes, publishing it under the name of the Leader-Press. Mr. Holmes retained the job printing plants of both papers. Editor Hanna purchased the paper of Folsom and the job plant of Holmes in 1912, and restored the original name of the Paynesville Press.
“The Richmond Standard was founded by James H. O’Leary, making its first appearance June 21, 1900. On September 19, 1901, J. W. Wilcox bought the paper from Mr. O’Leary and continued it until July 4, 1902, when he sold it to M. A. Benson & Son. The Standard is one of the most reliable of the county publication and is a paper of much influence.
Special thanks to Phil Holm for transcribing the newspaper information.