September 11, 1875: Minnesotian-Herald begins publication

On this day in Duluth in 1875, the Minnesotian-Herald—a weekly newspaper—printed its first edition. Its proprietors were Edward and Clarence Foster, sons of Dr. Thomas Foster, who moved his St. Paul Minnesotian newspaper to Duluth, altered its name, and gave a speech first naming Duluth “The Zenith City of the Unsalted Seas.” But the Panic of 1873, an international financial depression set off by the bankruptcy of Jay Cooke’s banking house, had made it difficult for the newspaper to survive. As the population dropped, so did advertisers, and following the drowning death of his son Charles in 1874, Dr. Foster closed up shop and left Duluth—and apparently his wife, who divorced him on the grounds of desertion in 1877. R. C. Mitchell’s Duluth Tribune had survived by switching to a weekly format. Cooke had essentially brought Mitchell to Duluth in 1870, suggesting that Duluth pioneers enlist Mitchell—who was then operating the Superior Tribune—to move to Duluth to compete with the Minnesotian. You see, Duluth’s city father’s didn’t appreciate Dr. Foster’s criticism, and so they moved Mitchell’s Tribune to Duluth on a ferry boat during “the dead of the night.” Things began to slowly improve for Duluth beginning in 1877, and the next year Mitchell purchased the Minnesotian-Herald and his Tribune was the only newspaper in town for about a year when W. S. Woodbridge started producing the Lake Superior News. The Tribune returned to daily publication in 1881 and five year later Woodbridge’s weekly paper changed to a once-a-day publication schedule called the Duluth Daily News. The newspapers merged in 1892 to become the Duluth News Tribune. The Duluth Herald, by the way, was established by Millie Bunnell in 1882. In 1929 the Herald and News Tribune merged to become the Duluth News Tribune and Herald.

The only known image of Dr. Thomas Foster, editor of the Duluth Minnesotian, Duluth’s first newspaper. (Image: Minnesota Historical Society)