The first newspaper established on the North Shore was the “North Shore Advocate,” published in 1857-58 at Buchanan, which place was expected would eventually be the capital of the county and also the great copper port of Minnesota.
The editor of the paper had the advantage of the prestige and stability that went with the holding, concurrently, of a governmental office, although it does not appear probable that the land office business at Buchanan at that time was overwhelming, or that the emolument ot a federal office holder identified in minor capacity therewith would be substantial. Nevertheless, it was a federal office, and the pay, no doubt, assisted in meeting the liabilities of the paper, which could hardly have been overweighted by advertising patronage. When Buchanan’s hope of being the metropolis faded in 1859, the “Advocate” was- discouraged and soon ceased altogether to advocate.
The next paper on the North Shore and the first to be established in Duluth, was the “Weekly Minnesotian.” Two other papers, the “Tribune” and the “Morning Call,” were being regularly published in Duluth before the city was a year old, and another, the “Daily Herald” sprang to life in 1873. The “Call” did not last long and the others were near death in 1873, sadly feeling the blight of universal money shortage in the fall of 1873. Judge J. J. Egan, who in 1870 was a young Duluth attorney, reviewed Duluth newspaper history of the first years thus: The only paper in Duluth (in 1869) was the Duluth Minnesotian, controlled by Doctor Foster. R. C. Mitchell controlled the only one at Superior. As soon as the good doctor got his bonus (valuable real estate) he became unmanageable, and either he could not use us, or we him. At any rate, we entered into secret negotiations to bring Mitchell and his paper over to Duluth. Quickly and quietly, at dead of night, we took Mitchell and his outfit, including cases, to Duluth. Mitchell claimed it was a valuable plant. If we had been caught by the good citizens of Superior we would have been hanged on the nearest trees. We got Mitchell, but found him as intractable as Foster. It is strange that ambitious men at all times try to use the newspapers. We were disgusted and sought for a new paper. One day, Major Seip came rushing along Superior Street and exhibited to Colonel Culver and myself a letter from a gentleman in Maryland, enclosing his photograph, while he glowingly set forth his qualifications as a newspaper man. We wrote him an encouraging letter. He came with his whole family and no money-as usual with all editors. Of course we took care of him; got him started in the newspaper business, and the paper was called the Duluth Herald. That gentleman was Doctor D’Unger, now … known in Chicago as the exponent of Chincona as a remedy for alcoholism. We had no luck with him, however.
The “Minnesotian.”-Doctor Foster’s paper, the “Minnesotian” or the “Weekly Minnesotian” has the place of honor in the Duluth record. Carey writes of that paper and ‘its founder, as follows: The first issue of a newspaper published in Duluth was the Duluth Minnesotian, published April 24, 1869, with Dr. Thomas Foster as editor.
Doctor Foster came to Duluth the year before from St. Paul, where he had for some years edited the St. Paul Minnesotian. The office of publication of 228the Duluth Minnesotian was located in an old building on the westerly side of Lake Avenue, about a block north of where the canal now is.
Doctor Foster purchased the old Jefferson house, enlarging it slightly. He lived in it for several years and the house later became known as the Foster house. It is still standing.
The doctor seemed to have implicit confidence in the future of Duluth. He brought the plant of the St. Paul “Minnesotian” with him when he came to Duluth in 1868, and although it seems to have resolved to enter medical practice, he nevertheless had quite resolved to establish a newspaper in Duluth. Sidney Luce said of him, that “the doctor was quite an able man but a poor manager and vindictively offensive in some of his editorials.” Whether the doctor did his own type-setting for the first editions of his paper is not known, although presumably he did, for the first man he employed was Thomas H. Pressnell, and he did not arrive in Duluth until May 14, 1869, two, perhaps three, issues having by that time been printed. Pressnell, who since 1869 has made Duluth his home city, was a Civil War veteran of distinguished record, and was a compositor on the St. Paul “Despatch” when Doctor Foster offered him a post on the Duluth paper. The following is from Pressnell’s autobiography, which reads: Early in April, 1869, I received a letter from Dr. Thomas Foster of Duluth, Minesota, in which he stated that he was going to commence the publication of the Duluth Minnesotian, and desired me to come and take the management of the business, and the mechanical department of the paper, which position I subsequently accepted, and arrived in Duluth on Saturday, May 14, 1869, and entered upon my duties on that day. … I continued as business manager until June, 1871, when I leased the paper from Doctor Foster and conducted it until August, 1875. Then M. C. Russell, who previous to that time published the Brainard Tribune, made a proposition to revive the Duluth Herald, which had theretofore been published by Dr. Robert D’Unger. I accepted the proposition, surrendered the lease of the Minnesotian, and continued with the Herald until October, 1875, when the Foster brothers, who were the publishers of the Minnesotian, made the proposition to buy or sell. I accepted the latter proposition, which ended my newspaper experience.
Pressnell married a daughter of Edward F. Parker and after severing connection with the publishing business was appointed register of the United States land office, which appointment he held for many years; in fact, for practically the remainder of his life Pressnell was destined to be in public office almost continuously, federal, state or county.
Doctor Foster seems to have driven a hard bargain with the proprietors of Duluth and Portland; it is said that he received real estate to the value of $200,000, that presumably being the consideration he demanded for establishing and maintaining a weekly journal which would be devoted to the advancement of Duluth. It is further said that after the good doctor had been made the owner of the deed of said property he ceased to be governed in his published statements by what the proprietors and leading citizens of Duluth felt would best promote the interests of the city. Doctor Foster was a strong writer and while in St. Paul had gained for himself enviable repute as an editor; but his opinions and those of the directors of Duluth’s destiny did not concur, and he was either too conscientious or too conceited to subordinate his opinion to theirs.
He published a well-edited but small paper; at the outset it was only a “five-column four-page sheet.” The first number was pub- 229lished on April 24, 1869, and the early issues had, in a conspicuous place, this notice: Newcomers should comprehend that Duluth is at present a small place and that hotel and boarding house accomnodation is extremely limited; however, lumber is cheap and shanties can be built. Everyone should bring blankets and come prepared to rough it at first.
That was at the time when boarding-house space was a chalked area on the floor, a man being apportioned space according to his girth, the margin being not very much.
The Duluth editor was twitted and taunted regularly by the able editor of the Superior “Tribune,” and soon the criticisms were features of both papers, each editor manifesting loyal acrity in his denunciation of everything that had emanated, or could emanate, from the other town, and particularly from the other newspaper. One of the issues of the “Minnesotian” read: Mr. Russ Munger of St. Paul was standing on the wharf at Superior last Thursday, baggage in hand, bound for Duluth. Putting his hand in his pocket and gravely looking around, he jokingly remarked to a friend: “Well, I guess I won’t invest here; I will take a look at the Zenith City.” A Superior lady standing by, sharply spoke up: “You had better not invest over there; you will regret it if you do, and you will see it in less than three years, too.” She would have posted Russ thoroughly on Superior investments, but his eyes betrayed the sell, and he left in a hurry. Our advice to overland travelers is “to beware of female runners at Superior.” The distribution in Duluth of free copies of an issue of the Superior paper, in which were many “pungent personals,” caused Doctor Foster to retort: The way the editor scattered his “pepper sass” around was shocking to a nervous man. He came over to Duluth early last week to see the effect that his popgun produced. He found all busy as usual and all unconscious of its explosion. Such is fame. It is said, however, that all Superior heard it burst, owing to the dead silence of its streets.
Which retort was somewhat bitter, on Superior, as well as its editor.
The advertisements of the “Minnesotian” were satisfactory, it would seem, having regard to the size of the paper. It was not the day of full-page “ads,” and not one overlapped into the second column.
Among the advertisers were William Cranwell, Clinton Markell, C. ‘H. Graves and J. B. Culver (in partnership), Albert Seip, Sargent and McNair, all offering real estate, the last-named partners being bankers also. Professional cards were: J. D. Ensign, Albert Seip and W. W. Billson, attorneys; and S. C. McCormick, physician.
R. S. Munger, who was building up the city with the lumber from his two or three sawmills, and making money rapidly in railway contracts, also advertised a side-line, pianofortes, which presumably he did not build from the green lumber the city was built of.
The “Tribune.”-The coming of Robert C. Mitchell to Duluth and the establishment of the “Duluth Tribune” by him, in 1870, is best told in his own words. He had been in Superior nine or ten months, and had leased the “Superior Gazette” for one year, from Mrs. Washington Ashton, then only recently widowed. He changed the name of the paper to the “Superior Tribune,” and gave the city good service, under discouraging conditions, urging the people who controlled the destiny of the place to “get a move on,” and throw off the lethargy that possessed them. He was looked upon, by the “old citizens” as a “young man … rather fresh,” but Jay 230Cooke, from his reading in Philadelphia of the Superior paper, formed a different impression and he really was the man who suggested that it might be “a good stroke to import him” (Mitchell) to Duluth.
Editor Mitchell’s narrative, in part, reads: We tried to spur the people of Superior up and induce them to “get a move on them,” but they were immovable.
While this was going on, the leading citizens of Duluth, who … had helped Dr. Thomas Foster to establish his paper, the Minnesotian, here, had become very tired of him, as he had become too arrogant and dictatorial and entirely too obstreperous to suit the people of the then-booming city, and they concluded that they must and would have another paper. As the late Jay Cooke … was the strongest backer of Duluth, and as this place was commonly spoken of as his town, he was applied to by … Col. J. B. Culver to send a man out here to establish a newspaper-that they were bound to have one. Mr. Cooke replied that he had no one in mind that he could recommend, but he said that he had been reading the paper published by the new editor over in Superior, and that he noticed that he had been giving the people of that place some pretty good advice, and that he seemed to understand the situation at the head of the lakes pretty well, and suggested that if that editor was all right, as a man, it might be a good stroke to import him to run their proposed newspaper.
To make a long story short, his advice was acted upon, and in April, 1870, I arranged to start a paper in Duluth forthwith. This decision incensed the people of Superior, owing to the intensely bitter feeling then existing there towards Duluth; in those days the man from Superior who would cast his lot with Duluth was regarded as a traitor to Superior.
After we had made arrangements to remove to Duluth, we wanted to get rid of our lease on the old printing outfit that we were then using in Superior. We first offered it to the republicans and when they declined to take it off our hands we offered it to the Democrats, and they also declined to take it. The truth was that the two political parties over there thought that if neither one of them would take it off our hands we would change our mind about going. As they figured it, we would not want to pay $50i a month on a lot of our printing material that we could not use. When we found this out we gave notice that if none of them would take our lease off our hands we would move the outfit over to Duluth, where we could make use of it until our proposed new outfit should arrive.
At this juncture, the late E. W. Anderson, then the leading real estate man and a private banker of Superior, announced that if we attempted anything of that sort he would block our little game. He stated that he had a claim of some $200 against the outfit, and that if I attempted to remove it out of the state he would get out an injunction. … There were only two officials who could grant a writ of injunction; one was Judge S. H.
Clough, of the Circuit Court, and the other was the judge of probate. I watched my opportunity, however, and waited until Judge Clough had left to hold court down in the St. Croix counties, when, on a given day at 12 o’clock, I had two wagons and a dozen husky men at my office door … and by the time Mr. Anderson got back from his dinner we had it about all loaded on the wagons.
Mr. Anderson knew that Judge Clough was out of the city, and he flew around at a great rate and sent messengers to try to find the judge of probate, but that official could nowhere be found, and in a very short time we had the outfit aboard the tug of the late Capt. J. H. Lutes, when it was brought over and landed on the bayside of Rice’s Point, at the old De Costa dock, from which point it was hauled downtown on a wagon next day.
In the course of a day or two, however, the judge of probate came to light. The facts are that that official, while a capable man and a good citizen in the main, was in the habit of getting on periodical sprees, and when he did so he liked to go off and shut himself up until he had had his spree out, when he would come to life again. Mr. Anderson always vowed that he believed that I got the judge drunk, and that I then concealed him, but this is a mistake. I did happed to know, however, before I started to move the plant that he was dead to all the world in the second story of Charlie Lord’s saloon, and that he could not write his own name to a writ, even if he should be found. So I had the laugh on Mr. Anderson, instead of his having it on me.
After I got my printing outfit here, the next thing was to find a place in which I could set it up and open an office, until the commodious 25 by 75-foot two-story frame building that I had arranged to have rushed up for 231me on the northeast corner of First Avenue, West, and First Street, where Bayha’s store n’ow stands, had been fitted for occupancy, and absolutely the only temporary quarters I could get, either for love or money, was one corner of G. T. Barager’s furniture store, which was located on the corner of Second Avenue, East, and Superior Street, where the old Masonic Temple building now stands, and there the first issue of the Duluth Tribune was gotten out, on May 4, 1870.
So limited was the space I had in that building that in the daytime, when my printers were at work, they had to set their cases out on the sidewalk and set up their type there. One of the printers who helped me get out that first issue, and who worked for me for more than a year afterwards was A. S. Chase, who afterwards became one of our prominent and wealthy citizens.
In the course of a month or so, and after the floor had been laid in what was to be the billiard room of the Clark House … I secured more commodious quarters in that room until September of that year (1870), when I removed to the new building that had been erected for the paper … and when I put in an entire new printing outfit, including a fine job office and the first cylinder press ever brought to Duluth. The whole outfit cost $7,500. … In the early part of September, 1871, I had the misfortune to lose my office by fire, the loss being total. I had an insurance of $5,000 on the material that had cost me $7.500, but on the ninth of the next month, and before I could get around to collect the insurance the great Chicago fire occurred, which bankrupted one of the companies I was insured in, so that I collected only half of the amount.
In the early part of the year 1872 nothing would do the people but-they must have a daily paper. Weekly papers were too slow for them, and so, on the 15th of May of that year, I established the Duluth Evening Tribune, quite a sprightly little six-column four-paged paper, containing the full Associated Press dispatches for that period–about 2,500 to 3,000 words.
The little daily seemed to fill satisfactorily a long-felt want, and it was quite successful, financially, for a time, but after having been in existence some seventeen months it, on the first day of November (1873) through no fault of mine or the people of Duluth, came to an untimely end.
The cause, of course, was the failure of Jay Cooke and the suspension of the railway projects. Mitchell writes: I kept a stiff upper lip with my little daily until October 31st, when I saw that it was folly to try to continue its publication any longer. So, on that day and with a sorrowful heart, I announced that the Daily Tribune would appear no more until the times revived, but that I would continue the weekly edition. Instead of continuing a nine-column weekly, however, I cut it down to five columns, and thereafter, for some four or five years, I found it more difficult to secure advertisements to fill a five-column weekly and more difficult to rake in money enough to publish a weekly of that size and pay one printer and a boy, than I had formerly found to publish one nearly twice as large daily and to pay off a dozen employes.
The “Evening Tribune” was not again revived until 1881. In 1882 the Duluth “Herald” was established by Milie Bunnell and, having the option, Mitchell then, or soon afterward, made the “Tribune” a morning paper.
Such is the formative history of the older of the two excellent current daily papers of Duluth.
The other pioneer newspapers of Duluth hardly justify extensive review. The “Morning Call” apparently was the first daily paper published in Duluth. Its first issue was on February 9, 1871, and its address was “Newcomb’s Block, corner First Street and First Avenue east.” Its editor was Seth Wilbur Payne, and its “business manager,” E. L. Bailey. It was a four-page paper, but not bigger than a sheet of letter-paper, so that only two columns, seven inches in length, could be accommodated on a page; yet the paper was put on sale at two cents a copy. Some of the advertisements are interesting; for example, the following: 232Silberstein & Company take the pleasure of informing the ladies of Duluth that they have received a choice lot of spring style hoop skirts, also a great variety of corsets, sash and silk ribbons, which they will sell cheaper than anyone else.
Lym. Jacobs announced that “a raffle of turkeys, geese, &c” would “come off” at the “Come and Try It” saloon on Minnesota Point one Saturday evening. The “Empire Hotel and Restaurant” was declared “open and ready for business.” “Valentines of every kind” were offered by Bergquist and Johnston. J. N. Richey offered “7 tickets (good for 7 shaves) for $1.00”; he also had “To Rent-Houses on Minn. Point.” Luther Mendenhall would “deliver wood in the cord, or sawed and split ready for stoves. Sawed wood delivered at $3.25 to $3.50 per cord.” The Lake Superior and Mississippi Railroad timetable, on page 3, showed a service of one train daily, each way, between Duluth and St. Paul, a journey of thirteen hours. Trains stopped “30 minutes for dinner at Hinckley.” The paper had four inches of “General and Telegraphic News,” and was such a miniature journal in general that one does not wonder that it did not meet the demand of the people for daily news matter, and that it soon went out of existence. However, “at the height of the wave of prosperity” in the spring of 1873, Robert D’Unger established the “Daily Herald,” an afternoon paper (not the predecessor, nor in any way related to the present excellent afternoon journal of that name, by the way). D’Unger might have had a chance of firmly establishing his paper had he come a little earlier, but it was not sufficiently stable to withstand the business depression of the fall of 1873, even as a weekly. Its last issue was printed very shortly after the Jay Cooke crash came. In 1878, a “Weekly Herald” was established by M. C. Russell, of Brainerd, Minnesota, but the journal had no connection with the former “Herald,” and the second “Herald” went out of existence “after a year or so.” The “Minnesotian” was absorbed by the “Tribune” in 1878, and in that year W. S. Woodbridge entered the field with the “Weekly Lake Superior News.” The “News” three years later became a daily and in 1892, by a consolidation, the “News-Tribune” came into being.
The Duluth “Herald” now published was not of pioneer establishment and properly has no place in this chapter, but brief mention might here be made. It is singular that Mr. Bunnell, who founded the “Herald,” and saw it safely through its early years to profitable permanency, should have relinquished hold, and have “passed over to the opposition,” as it were. The “Herald” was established in 1883, and in 1889 passed out of its founder’s control, M. B. Harrison and Alonzo J. Whiteman, Duluthians, being among the successors of Mr. Bunnell. In April, 1891, Anton C. Weiss, who for long had been identified with the “Pioneer Press” of St. Paul, assumed direction of the “Herald,” and was principal owner until quite recently. Under Mr. Weiss, the “Herald” became “one of the finest newspaper plants in the Northwest,” and it may be added, one of the finest news mediums.
Duluth, in this respect, is well served today.
The Press in Duluth
From Dwight Woodbridge & John Pardee’s History of Duluth and St. Louis County Past and Present Vols. 1 – 2. C. F. Cooper & Company. Chicago: 1910. Available at the Duluth Public Library.
In the early history of nearly all western communities the newspaper occupies a conspicuous place. The newspaper is the advance guard of civilization, and it reflects and basks in the progress of its community. In 1869, when the first newspaper was published in Duluth, there was not much but hope in the village to indicate it as a promising field for an ambitious journalist.
A man had to have a great fund of faith in the future of the place as well as a great stock of optimism to believe in the ultimate success of his venture. These were, however, exactly the qualities that the pioneers possessed in abundance. There were a few hundred people in the settlement. The men of Duluth were making out as best they could on their hills, hopefully waiting for the coming of the railroad to lift the place into affluence. These conditions did not deter Dr. Thomas Foster, the founder of the Minnesotian, and who at that time had a well-earned reputation in Minnesota as an able editor. He came to Duluth, established his plant, and on Saturday, April 24, 1869, issued the first paper ever published in Duluth. Fortunately the owner was a physician as well as a newspaper man, and therefore was not dependent upon the profits of his paper solely for subsistence.
It was a five-column, four-page sheet. There were no telegraph lines into Duluth in those days and the news contained in the paper was confined to local items and clippings from exchanges. On its first page there were only about one and a half columns of reading matter, the rest of the space being devoted to advertising. Henry M. Sherwood, a Chicago dealer and manufacturer of school furniture, advertised his goods. Two columns were devoted to the advertisement of a sale of lands in St. Louis County for delinquent taxes. The rest of the space was filled up by the advertisements of St. Paul firms in various lines of business. G. P. Peabody advertised wines, liquors and cigars; Dawson Company their bank, and Miss A. Foster millinery and dress goods; Morgan & Metcalf, real estate brokers, and the Hartford Live Stock Insurance Company had fair-sized cards.
At the top of the editorial page the editor published the following notice: “Newcomers should comprehend that Duluth is at present a small place and that hotel and boarding house accommodation is extremely limited; however, lumber is cheap and shanties can be built. Everyone should bring blankets and come prepared to rough it at first.” The conditions were hard enough to discourage most, but the editor had besides to encounter vigorous opposition. Superior was then quite a pretentious place compared with Duluth, and there was published every week the Superior Tribune, which fully shared in the jealousy of that community to Duluth, and which regularly took care to remind its readers that Superior was destined to be the seat of empire at the head of the lakes and that the claims of Duluth were based upon the most unstable sort of hopes. Against these jibes the editor of the Minnesotian was not pachydermous, and he replied in kind. The battle waged back and forth with considerable feeling and rancor, but when it had at last been definitely settled that Duluth was to be the terminal point of the first railroad to reach the head of the lakes, Superior’s ardor weakened. It was obliged to submit to the inevitable. But while the fight was on it enlivened the pages of the two papers and buoyed up the spirits of the men who were working for the rival towns. The Minnesotian of October 9, 1869, contained the following editorial paragraph, for instance, which serves to show the spirit rampant in those early days: “We would be kept quite busy and our paper would be as dull and monotonous as the Superior Tribune were we to attempt the task of noticing all the silly assertions, ungenerous insinuations and dodging statements of the genius that presides over that black-lettered sheet. The game would not pay for powder. We merely say our statements with respect to the real estate transactions in this place are correct, and that inquiry at the register’s office will amply verify the fact.” In this the paper was simply reflecting the sentiments of its readers. Every man, woman and child in the rival communities was actuated by a similar spirit, and the women were quite as bitter as the men. In another issue of the Minnesotian is found the following paragraph:
Mr. Russ Munger, of St. Paul, was standing on the wharf at Superior last Thursday, baggage in hand, bound for Duluth. Putting his hand in his pocket and gravely looking around he jokingly remarked to a friend: ‘Well, I guess I won’t invest here; I will take a look at the Zenith City.’ A Superior lady standing by sharply spoke up, ‘You had better not invest over there; you will regret it if you do, and you will see it in less than three years, too.’ She would have posted Russ thoroughly on Superior investments, but his eyes betrayed the sell and he left in a hurry. Our advice to overland travelers is ‘to beware of female runners at Superior.’
As a matter of course, the rival editors, from squabbling over the respective merits of their towns, at last took to indulging in personalities. Evidently the Superior man had published something that rankled in the mind of the editor of the Minnesotian, or he would not have published the following:
The circulation of the Superior Tribune in this place is rapidly increasing, not at much profit, however, to the proprietor. Quite a number of our citizens were surprised to see it in their post office boxes last week without any orders to that effect. As a curiosity the paper was appreciated, of course, but if the dose is repeated frequently we fear the novelty will wear away. The number alluded to, like Brick Pomeroy’s Democrat, was ‘red hot,’ full of funny jokes, witty sayings and pungent personals. It really made us laugh. Perhaps we laughed when the editor meant we should get mad, but we couldn’t help laughing, nevertheless. The way the editor scattered his ‘pepper sass’ around was shocking to a nervous man. He came over to Duluth early last week to see the effect that his popgun produced. He found all busy as usual and all unconscious of its explosion. Such is fame. It is said, however, that all Superior heard it burst, owing to the dead silence on its streets; but the wonder was whether it was the editor of the town that had gone up for want of ammunition.
In the latter part of 1869 Duluth was growing rapidly and the new arrivals were numbered by the hundreds each week.
The Minnesotian shared in the resultant prosperity. Its advertising columns were well-filled, and its circulation expanded.
The advertisements of those days contained many names that afterward became famous in Duluth and familiar as household words. The display “ad” of the present day does not appear to have been known then, and the typographical display was extremely limited. Advertisements were kept within one column in width, and rarely exceeded half a column in length.
Dealers inlands, in timber and banking firms, were the principal advertisers. Some of the advertisements were rather quaint.
William Cranwell’s was one of them. He was a real estate dealer, and his advertisement says that he “refers by permission to himself in extreme old age. Has achieved wonders in his day. Has sold most property and made the most money of any man in this precinct. Retires at last in cheerful solitude to behold on every hand substantial evidences of his appreciation.” Among the other advertisers of those early years may be found Clinton Markell, who had city lots and farm lands for sale; C. H. Graves and J. B. Culver, who were doing a partnership business in lands. Mr. Graves is now the United States minister to Sweden, while Mr. Culver is dead. Albert Seip advertised as an attorney at law and dealer in real estate. He is still living, but resides in Washington, D. C., and has extensive interests in Duluth. Sargent & MeNair were in the banking and land business. Mr. Sargent was Jay Cooke’s agent in Duluth. Sawyer & Davis were in the wholesale grocery business. Mr. Sawyer afterward became a great wheat merchant. W. W. Spalding had a general store, where he sold groceries, dry goods, crockery, hardware, etc. This store stood where the Spalding house now stands. J. D. Ensign and W. W. Billson had their cards in as attorneys at law. The former is now district judge, and the latter is living, alternating between Duluth and California. The ethics of the medical profession evidently did not prevent physicians from advertising in those days, for the card of Dr. S. C. McCormick appears. The doctor is still living at a good old age and his son is comptroller of the city. Ensign, Mendenhall & Graves conducted an abstract business, while R. S. Munger advertised as a music dealer and also sold pianofortes. He was also running a sawmill. Mr. Munger is still living, but has retired from business.
There were no changes of particular moment in the newspaper field of Duluth until 1870, but this change was one of great importance. The Superior Tribune had stuck to its field with great loyalty, but the tide of growth had set in so strongly in favor of Duluth that its editor could no longer resist it. He loaded his press, type, paper and other paraphernalia on a boat and had it ferried across the bay to Duluth. Here on May 3 its editor and publisher, Mr. R. C. Mitchell, issued the first number of the Duluth Tribune. The editorial announcement which he then published explained the reasons for his change of base and is given herewith. It was headed “A few words to our friends in Superior,” and reads as follows:
As we have recently made a change in base, across the bay from Superior to Duluth, it is not inappropriate that we should give reasons for so doing. The explanation is a short one. When we located in Superior, and when we, last July, established the Superior Tribune, we thought, from the best information we could gather, that there was a reasonable probability that that place might receive as much benefit as this from the railroads projected to the head of the lake. We soon went to work, however, to ascertain from headquarters just what the real prospects of that place were, and after a short investigation we became thoroughly convinced that Superior had been sold out — that she had allowed the St. Croix road to slip through her fingers — that the State Line road was dead — that she had not a ghost of a chance of becoming the lake terminus of the Northern Pacific — that she would reap but very insignificant benefit from the Lake Superior and Mississippi Road, and that even when the St. Croix and Portage Road shall be built she will be a mere way station thereon. Such being the case, we made up our mind that those who wished to hang by and go down with a sinking ship might do so, but that, for ourselves, we preferred to carry on business in a growing, prosperous and flourishing city, rather than in a decaying and lifeless one, and so we made arrangements to come to Duluth. This is the whole story in a nutshell.
The move proved a good one for the Tribune. It may be that the citizens of Duluth were flattered by the abandonment of Superior and the frank acknowledgment of the supremacy of Duluth, but at any rate they showered it with patronage. It at once became prosperous and in a few months was so crowded with advertising that the publisher was obliged to enlarge the paper to an eight-column folio, and even then, notwithstanding its increase in size, hardly a week passed when it was not necessary, on account of the crush of advertising, to keep out a great deal of news matter. At that time everyone advertised. Everything was so unsettled that the newspaper was the mouthpiece of all sorts and conditions of people. Dray-men, bankers — both kinds — wood sawyers, washerwomen, plasterers, carpenters, professional people — all advertised and kept prominent cards in every edition. Merchants especially advertised with boundless liberality. Trade was brisk, money was plentiful, and the city was booming.
The Tribune continued to be published as a weekly until May 15, 1872, and then the growth of the young city dictated the publication of a six-column daily paper. Accordingly, on that date Mr. Mitchell began the publication of the Daily Tribune every evening except Sunday, giving regular Associated Press dispatches. Its name is perpetuated today in the Daily News-Tribune. The Minnesotian, which was doing a fair business, was the only other paper then published.
The news of the failure of the banking house of Jay Cooke & Company in 1873 came with the effect of a wet blanket. In every line of business there was an immediate curtailment until the full effect of the disaster could be known. On the newspapers this curtailment was especially severe. Advertising and circulation dropped with remarkable suddenness, and on the Tribune especially the effect was so disastrous that the publisher discontinued the publication of the daily edition.
When the full effects of the panic were felt probably four-fifths of the business men either failed or else stopped business in order to avoid impending failures. For the two years following the entire force employed on the Tribune consisted of one man, a boy and the publisher himself, and this included the job office. The weekly it was necessary to reduce to a five-column folio. The news matter was sad and advertisements were scarce. Writing of this period a few years since, Mr. Mitchell said: “Work in the job office was not more prosperous. The only printing that was done there, and that but occasionally, was upon some envelopes, but once in a great while some enterprising firm would become sufficiently extravagant to order some letterheads printed, and from all the receipts that could be scraped from the weekly and the job office it was difficult to accumulate enough to pay the one man and the boy.” The hardships of these days can be better understood when it is recalled that during the flush times of 1870-71-72 the Tribune never maintained a force of less than fifteen employes and sometimes more.
In the three or four years following 1873 population decreased.
By 1878 matters had improved somewhat. There seemed a prospect that the affairs of the Northern Pacific Railroad would be settled satisfactorily and that Duluth would become the lake terminus of a transcontinental road. The Tribune had managed to struggle along, but the Minnesotian had had hard sledding. On September 11, 1875, it had been succeeded by the Minnesotian-Herald, the publisher and editor of which was Edward H. Foster, the son of Dr. Foster. By 1878 business affairs had improved so much that Editor Mitchell was able to buy out the Minnesotian and to consolidate it with the Tribune, which, however, after the consolidation was still continued as a weekly. This was in the early part of the year and the Tribune was the only paper published in the city.
It had the field to itself until the latter part of 1878, when W. S. Woodbridge started the publication of the Weekly Lake Superior News. Conditions gradually improved from the year 1878 and the Tribune shared in the prosperity. It was from time to time increased in size, until in the middle of May, 1881, the Daily Tribune was re-established, and was continued until 1889, when Mr. Mitchell sold the paper. But in 1892 it was sold to the News, the name of which was changed to News- Tribune, which it retains to the present time.
The News, after its foundation in 1878, had been continued by W. S. Woodbridge as a weekly for three years, when he enlarged it to a daily. He finally sold out to W. H. Burke and S. A. Thompson, who continued it, using the United Press dispatches. They sold the paper in 1890 to Thomas E. Bowen.
In 1892 M. A. Hayes succeeded Mr. Bowen, and in 1893 S. M. Chantler became the publisher, representing a syndicate of local men who had acquired the ownership of the paper. In 1899 control passed into the hands of the present owners, Messrs. Milie Bunnell and G. G. Hartley. Mr. Hartley is one of the capitalists of Duluth and he and Mr. Bunnell own the paper in equal shares.
Mr. Bunnell is publisher.
Today the News-Tribune is the only morning paper published in Duluth. It uses the Associated Press dispatches, and besides has a staff of special correspondents and representatives through the iron mining country, where it has a large circulation.
It also makes a feature of Northwest news and of lake marine, which is so vital in the interests of Duluth. It occupies a commodious three-story building at 24-26 East Superior street, which is wholly devoted to its use. Its mechanical plant is of the most modern description, comprising two modern Hoe presses, a battery of linotype machines, a complete art and engraving department, etc. In the editorial department H. E. Mitchell, a son of the original editor, is managing editor; C. S. Mitchell, editorial writer; Carroll Michener, city editor, and B. A. Lynch Sunday, editor. The circulation of the paper is 21,000 and growing daily.
In 1901 the News-Tribune moved to its present quarters, but it has long since outgrown them. It is now about to erect a building of its own, which shall be a model of its kind. A site has been purchased at Lake Avenue and Michigan Street with 106 feet front on Lake Avenue, and work is now in progress on this site, so that the building will be ready for occupancy when the paper’s lease of its present quarters expires next year.
The change of the Tribune from an afternoon to a morning paper took place in 1884. The manager of the Associated Press had advised Editor Mitchell that there were several parties desirous of obtaining the Associated Press reports and advised the latter to take the morning franchise. This the editor did, and this was the first morning paper published in the city.
During all these years, however, there had been from time to time a number of other journalistic ventures that had entered the field as contestants for popular favor. As a rule none of these enjoyed very long life. One of the earliest of these was the Call, established by Mr. Seth Wilbur Paine, whom Mr. Mitchell once described as “a talented but erratic gentleman.” Mr. Paine started the publication of his paper in December, 1871. It was a four-page daily, each page about the size of a sheet of letter paper. For some reason the Call failed to win public favor, and after a struggling career of about nine months gave up the ghost.
The field was too tempting to remain long untilled, however.
At the height of the wave of prosperity in the spring of 1873 Mr. Robert D’Unger launched another ambitious journal, which was christened the Daily Herald. This was an afternoon paper and it started off with excellent prospects. If Jay Cooke & Company had not failed and if the panic had not followed, this paper might have proved a big success. But Jay Cooke did fail and a few months afterward the burden of continuing publication became too great for the Herald’s publisher and it was interred in the journalistic graveyard.
When the revival of business in the city began in 1878 another venture in the journalistic field was launched under the name of the Weekly Herald. Its founder was M. C. Russell, who came to Duluth from Brainerd, Minn., and Capt. T. H. Pressnell, who had formerly been connected with the Minnesotian, became interested in the paper with him. The Weekly Herald went out of existence after a year or so.
In the summer of 1882 the Times was started as an afternoon paper by C. F. Kindred, who had political ambitions and hoped by the influence of his paper to be elected to Congress. Its editor was Goldey West, and the paper died in the spring of 1883.
Mr. Kindred was defeated in his race for Congress and the sheriff took possession of the paper.
In 1885 Col. W. W. Howell began the publication of the Duluth Journal of Commerce, quite a pretentious weekly, the principal object of which was to mirror the conditions of trade.
After it had been run for a few months Ray T. Lewis, who later became mayor of the city, acquired an interest in the paper, and shortly afterward he acquired Howell’s interest and ran the paper by himself for a time. After a few months as sole owner Mr. Lewis sold the paper to M. B. Harrison, who employed Messrs. Phillips and Buell to undertake its management and changed its name to the Sunday Sun. The latter began publication in the early part of 1886. It had not run many months before it was sold to the Tribune. The name of the Times was revived in 1890 when W. I. Burke began the publication of an afternoon paper under that name. It had a life of about nine months and then died of inanition.
The newspaper situation in Duluth today practically simmers down to two papers — the News-Tribune, in the morning field, and the Herald, in the evening. There are other papers published in the city, which will be mentioned later, but they are minor factors in the field.
The Herald was originally started in 1883 by Mr. Bunnell, present manager and one of the owners of the News-Tribune. It continued for six years under Mr. Bunnell’s management, when he sold it. Among its editors have been Eliot Lord and J. Adam Bede, the latter afterward better known as the witty Congressman from Duluth. Among the owners who succeeded Mr. Bunnell were M. B. Harrison and Alonzo J. Whiteman. The latter married a daughter of J.B. Nettleton, one of the pioneers of Duluth, and later achieved an unenviable notoriety through peculiar financial transactions.
In April, 1891, the company which now controls the Herald became its owner. In November of the same year Anton C. Weiss purchased an interest in the paper and became its president, treasurer and general manager, in which capacities he still remains with the paper. Mr. Weiss had come to Duluth as the representative of the Pioneer Press of St. Paul, with which he had been long connected, and had had long and practical experience in the newspaper business. The company was incorporated with $20,000 capital, at which figure it remains today.
In its early days of life the Herald was published in the basement of the old Chamber of Commerce on Superior Street, from whence after several removals it took permanent root in its present location opposite the Federal Building on First Street.
This building is owned by the Herald company and was erected by it. It occupies a site 50 x 150 feet and is generally considered one of the finest newspaper plants in the Northwest.
Through the energies of Mr. Weiss, the Herald has developed into one of the recognized leading afternoon papers of the West.
It publishes the complete Associated Press reports, is printed on two modern quadruple presses, has a battery of fourteen linotype machines, and an excellent art and engraving department. It is in every way equipped in a thorough manner for the publication of a metropolitan newspaper. Besides the Associated Press dispatches the Herald also publishes daily a large amount of special matter from its correspondents through the Iron Range country and the Northwest, in which sections it has a large circulation.
Politically, the Herald is independent.
The building of the Herald is either a two-story or a three-story one, all according to the point of view. Viewed from First Street it is two stories high, with a basement, but when the rear is reached it is found to be three stories high, the lower one being given over to the presses, mailing department, etc. The press room is so arranged that it is in full view from the street, and the sight of the running presses always attracts a throng of sightseers. The floor above the press room is devoted to the counting room, advertising manager’s office and the office of Mr. Weiss.
Back of these again are the offices for editors and reporters, telegraph operators and the Associated Press. The upper floor is devoted entirely to the printers and artists. It forms one of the finest composing rooms and one of the best equipped “ad” rooms in the country. Mechanical excellence is one of the fads of Mr. Weiss, and the newest inventions or processes, or the latest styles in type are immediately added to the newspaper’s plant. It is seldom that the paper publishes less than sixteen pages daily, and this is liable to be enlarged from that up to thirty-two, which is the regular size of the Saturday edition. When Mr. Weiss took charge of the paper it was an eight-page seven-column paper except on Saturdays, when it usually published from twelve to sixteen pages. It has a daily circulation of 26,000.
In the conduct of the paper Mr. Weiss is assisted by William D. Thompson, vice-president; Stillman II. Bingham, editor; J. E. Rockwell, city editor; Col. William F. Henry, business manager.
Both the Herald and the News-Tribune publish weekly editions.
At various times there have been Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, French and German papers started in the city, as well as several English publications aside from those already mentioned.
In 1895 there were four daily papers printed, as follows: The News-Tribune, the Herald, the Commonwealth and the Commercial Record. The Commonwealth died in 1896 after a life of four years. It was established in 1892 by Emil Schmied and its editor was John Stone Pardee. The weekly papers that were then in existence were the Duluth Press, the Tribunal, the West Duluth Sun, the Northwestern Witness, the Forum, the Recorder, the Posten, the Scandia, the Scandinav, the Minnesota Svenska Tribune, the Volksfreund, the Society World, the Northern Lumberman, the Northwestern Merchant, a semi-monthly; the Building Association News, a quarterly, and the Architect and Builder, a monthly. In addition there was the Duluth Press, which had the unique distinction of being one of the three papers in the country conducted entirely by women. It was published by Cody & Wetmore, the Cody being better known as “Buffalo Bill,” while the Wetmore was his sister, Mrs. Helen Cody-Wetmore.
Of the above list of papers the only ones that exist today are the Commercial Record, daily, and among the weeklies the Posten (Swedish), and the Scandinav (Norwegian). The News-Tribune and the Herald have no competition among the dailies. There are some other dailies published, but they appeal to certain trade or sectional interests and can in no manner be considered competitive. The following is a list of the newspapers published in the city: The News-Tribune, daily and weekly; the Herald, daily and weekly, except Sunday; Bede’s Budget, weekly, J. Adam Bede editor, Elbert Bede assistant editor; the Daily Commercial Record, C. H. Thornton, publisher; Daily Financial Record and Law Bulletin, Hattie C. Walker, publisher; Duluth Posten, Swedish weekly; Duluth Scandinav, Norwegian weekly, M. L. F. Wesenberg, publisher; Duluth Trade News, semi-weekly; the Labor World, weekly, W. E. McEwen and H. H. Turner, editors; the Proctor Journal, weekly, R. K. Welch, editor and publisher; the West End Advertiser, weekly, George M. Jensen, publisher; and then Samaritan, John Christie and W. A. Licken, editors.
Robert C. Mitchell, the publisher and editor of the Superior Tribune, which he transferred to Duluth and made the Duluth Tribune, died in July of 1907. A few years before his death he was asked to write an account of the reasons that induced him to make the change of location and also some of the newspaper experiences of those early days. After telling of his arrival at the head of the lakes in June of 1869, and his uncertainty as to whether he would cast his lot with Superior or Duluth, Mr. Mitchell continued his narrative as follows:
It was during this period of blissful uncertainty that I got a chance to lease for one year, at the rate of $50 per month, the Superior Gazette, a small six-column paper, then published by Mrs. Ashton, her husband having died some months before.
I assumed control of the paper on the first day of July of that year, but not fancying the name Gazette and preferring to build up a paper of my own, rather than to build up one that I might have to turn over again at the end of the year to the owner of the plant, I obtained her consent to discontinue the name of the paper, and accordingly changed it to the Superior Tribune. On the Fourth of July of that year an incident occurred which satisfied me that while I had located amongst a set of very nice people, that the controlling spirits among them were a set of old fossils, and that such a policy as they were advocating would not build up a city there in a thousand years. On that day Superior was visited by the executive committee of the Northern Pacific directors. They had come up to the head of the lakes to see whether they should make the lake terminus of their road at Duluth or Superior. They had already met and had very favorable offers of donations of land for dock and railroad purposes made to them by Mr. Mendenhall, representing the Western Land Association, and other leading pioneers, and of course those directors were anxious to secure the largest amount of water frontage that they could. The leading citizens of Superior took the directors up the St. Louis River to Fond du Lac in the forenoon on the little steamer George S. Frost, and some five miles up the Nemadji in the afternoon. During the trip the directors very frankly stated that they had come to the head of the lake to see what was the best arrangement they could make for their lake terminus.
Well, on the return trip down the Nemadji the business men of Superior composing the party got on the after deck of the boat to consider the question, and after holding quite a pow-wow, those men, who imagined themselves to be ‘business men’ and city builders, actually voted to donate two acres of land down in the then swamp, near the old Quebec pier — two whole acres of land which could not have been sold for over $500 to any sane man on earth, and offered to sell the directors such other land as they might need for about ten times as much as it was then worth on the market, in order to secure the lake terminus of the great transcontinental highway that was destined to connect this great lake with the Pacific Ocean. It is needless to say that the Northern Pacific directors were both amazed and disgusted with this offer and the president informed the business men that they could not think of accepting it, as they had so much more favorable offers from Duluth.
As we would have been satisfied to cast our lot with Superior permanently if we could have seen that she was putting forth the efforts that we regarded as essentially necessary to maintain the supremacy that as a town she then possessed, we for some months in good faith did what we could to try to make the people there see where, in our judgment, they were making a mistake, and in our next issue of the Tribune we took occasion to remark that it seemed to us that the people of Superior were pursuing a very poor policy if they really expected to ever make their town the lake terminus of the Northern Pacific Road and to cut Duluth out. We stated that railroad directors usually ran their roads where it was made their interest to run them.
The next morning we were waited upon by one of the leading citizens of the place, who had been a member of the conference on the boat, and he pounced upon us, rough shod, for the opinion expressed in that article. Said he: ‘Young man, don’t you think it was rather fresh in you, when you have only been here a few weeks, to undertake to tell us old citizens, who have been here from ten to fifteen years, what we should do to get a railroad? Don’t you see this spacious plateau, and can’t you see that with the hill over at that paper town, Duluth, the railroads have just got to come here, and wouldn’t we be a pretty set of fools now, after waiting this long time for a railroad, to give away very much of our land, or sell it for a song?’ This roast did not deter us, however, from pursuing the same course in the subsequent issues of our paper for several months. We tried to spur the people of Superior up and to induce them to ‘get a move on them,’ but they were immovable.
While this was going on, the leading citizens of Duluth who in 1868 had helped Dr. Thomas Foster to establish his paper, the Minnesotian, here, had become very tired of him, as he had become too arrogant and dictatorial and entirely too obstreperous to suit the people of this then booming city, and they concluded that they must and would have another paper. As the late Jay Cooke — the J. P. Morgan of that period — was the strongest backer of Duluth, and as this place was commonly spoken of as his town, he was applied to by the late Col. J. B. Culver to send a man out here to establish a newspaper — that they were bound to have one. Mr. Cooke replied that he had no one in mind that he could recommend, but he said that he had been reading the paper published by the new editor over in Superior, and that he noticed that he had been giving the people of that place some pretty good advice, and that he seemed to understand the situation at the head of the lakes pretty well, and suggested that if that editor was all right as a man it might be a good stroke to import him to run their proposed newspaper.
To make a long story short, his advice was acted upon and in April of 1870, I arranged to start a paper in Duluth forthwith.
This decision incensed the people of Superior forthwith, owing to the intensely bitter feeling then existing there towards Duluth.
In those days the man from Superior who would cast his lot with Duluth was regarded as a traitor to Superior. After we had made arrangements to remove to Duluth we wanted to get rid of our lease on the old printing outfit that we were then using in Superior. We first offered it to the Republicans and when they declined to take it off our hands we offered it to the Democrats, and they also declined to take it. The truth was that the two political parties over there thought if neither one of them would take it off our hands we would change our mind about going, as they figured it that we would not want to pay $50 a month on a lot of our printing material that we could not use. When we found this out we gave notice that if none of them would take our lease off our hands we would move the outfit over to Duluth, where we could make some use of it until our proposed own outfit should arrive.
At this juncture the late E. W. Anderson, then the leading real estate man and a private banker of Superior, announced that if we attempted anything of that sort he would block our little game. He stated that he had a claim of some $200 against the outfit and that if I attempted to remove it out of the state he would get out an injunction and prevent me from doing so.
Under the laws of Wisconsin at that time there were only two officials in that county who could grant a writ of injunction.
One was Judge S. H. Clough, of the circuit court, and the other was the judge of probate. I watched my opportunity, however, and waited until Judge Clough had left to hold court down in the St. Croix counties, when, on a given day at 12 o’clock I had two wagons and a dozen husky men at my office door, and I directed them to load the outfit up as rapidly as possible, and by the time Mr. Anderson got back from his dinner we had it about all loaded on the wagons.
Mr. Anderson knew that Judge Clough was out of the city and he flew around at a great rate and sent messengers to try to find the judge of probate, but that official could nowhere be found, and in a very short time we had the outfit aboard the tug of the late Capt. J. H. Lutes, when it was brought over and landed on the bay side of Rice’s Point at the old Da Costa dock, from which point it was hauled down town on a wagon next day.
In the course of a day or two, however, the judge of probate came to light. The facts are that that official, while a capable man and a good citizen in the main, was in the habit of getting on periodical sprees, and when he did so he liked to go off and shut himself up until he had his spree out, when he would come to life again. Mr. Anderson always vowed that he believed that I got the judge drunk and that I then concealed him, but this is a mistake. I did happen to know, however, before I started to move the plant, that he was dead to all the world in the second story of Charlie Lord’s saloon, and that he could not write his own name to a writ even if he should be found. So that I had the laugh on Mr. Anderson, instead of his having it on me.
After I got my printing outfit here the next thing was to find a place in which I could set it up and open an office, until the commodious 25 x 75-foot two-story frame building that I had arranged to have rushed up for me on the corner where Bayha’s store now stands had been fitted for occupancy, and absolutely the only temporary quarters I could get, either for love or money, was one corner of G. T. Barager’s furniture store, which was located on the corner of Second Avenue East and Superior Street, where the old Masonic Temple building now stands, and there the first issue of the Duluth Tribune was gotten out on May 4, 1870.
So limited was the space I had in that building that in the daytime, when my printers were at work, they had to set their cases out on the sidewalk and set up their type there. One of the printers who helped me get out that first issue and who worked for me for more than a year afterwards was A. S. Chase, who afterward became one of our prominent and wealthy citizens.
In taking this kaleidoscopic view of those old times I remember that the first time I ever saw J. D. Ensign, now our honored senior judge, was one May morning while my printers were at work setting type out on the sidewalk referred to above. He was introduced to me by the late James D. Ray as a young lawyer from Ashtabula who had just come to town. I can remember to this day just how he looked and that he wore a light-colored coat and a low-crowned, broad-brimmed Leghorn hat.
In the course of a month or so and after the floor had been laid in what was to be the billiard room of the Clark House, then in course of construction, I secured more commodious quarters in that room until September of that year, when I removed to the new building that had been erected for the paper on the corner where Bayha’s store now is, and when I put in an entire new printing outfit, including a fine job office and the first cylinder press ever brought to Duluth. The whole outfit cost $7,500.
By that time we had a tremendous boom on. People were pouring into Duluth at a rapid rate, thousands of men were at work in building the Northern Pacific Road westward from Carlton, or N. P. Junction, as it used to be called, and in order to publish the amount of reading matter that I desired to publish, setting forth the glories of Duluth and the future of the then unbroken wilderness lying between the head of the lakes and the Pacific, and to make room for the flood of advertising that was then coming in upon me, I was compelled to enlarge the paper to nine columns and all four pages printed in my own office.
From that time on for nearly two years such was the business activity here, and it being the fashion for almost everybody to advertise, on many occasions I had to curtail the amount of reading matter that I would have been glad to publish in order to accommodate my advertisers.
It will be quite impossible for those who did not live here during the rosy period from the early part of 1870 to the time of the Jay Cooke failure in September of 1873, to realize what lively times we had then.
In the early part of September 1871, I had the misfortune to lose my office by fire, the loss being total. I had an insurance of $5,000 on the material that had cost me $7,500, but on the 9th of the next month and before I could get around to collect the insurance the great Chicago fire occurred, which bankrupted one of the companies I was insured in, so that I only collected half of the amount.
In the early part of the year 1872 nothing would do the people but they must have a daily paper. Weekly papers were too slow for them, and so on the 15th day of May of that year I established the Duluth Evening Tribune, quite a sprightly little six-column, four-paged paper, containing the full Associated Press dispatches for that period — about 2,500 or 3,000 words.
The little daily seemed to fill satisfactorily a long-felt want and it was quite successful financially for a time, but after having been in existence some seventeen months it, on the first day of November, through no fault of mine or the people of Duluth, came to an untimely end.
As I have stated above, Jay Cooke & Company were the J. P. Morgan & Company of that period. Jay Cooke himself was the leading financier in the nation. A few years before that he had covered himself with immortal glory by succeeding in the sale of government bonds rapidly enough to enable the government to subdue the rebellion. Following this his firm — and they had the leading banks in New York City, in Washington City and Philadelphia — furnished the money with which the St. Paul and Duluth Road was constructed, and before that road had been completed they had also taken the contract to furnish the money for the building of that great continental highway, the Northern Pacific Railroad. This great work was commenced in 1870 at Northern Pacific Junction, the work proceeding westward through the wilderness from that point.
Duluth was the supply point for everything used in the construction of the road, men, teams, groceries, railroad supplies, etc., and during 1871 and 1872 she was undoubtedly one of the liveliest towns in America. But by the summer of 1873 operations began to lag a little, as the Franco-Prussian war had prevented Jay Cooke & Company from disposing of Northern Pacific bonds amounting to a great many millions of dollars that the Amsterdam bankers had contracted to take. Still, the people of Duluth and the people of the country never dreamed that so strong a firm as Jay Cooke & Company were in the least danger of becoming financially embarrassed, but on the 18th day of September of that year, like a clap of thunder from a clear sky, came the announcement that all of Jay Cooke & Company’s banks had gone to the wall, and the result was that their failure precipitated one of the greatest panics in history.
Of course, all work on the Northern Pacific was stopped at once, and as it was not known when it would be resumed there was an utter state of demoralization, especially in Duluth, which had sprung up like magic and whose business chiefly depended upon its being the supply point for the Northern Pacific Railroad.
I am safe in saying that inside of sixty days more than half of the men engaged in trade in Duluth went out of business, many of them going bankrupt and the others selling out for what they could get, and as soon as they could get away hundreds of our population left the place. I kept a stiff upper lip with my little daily until October 31, when I saw that it was folly to try to continue its publication any longer. So, on that day, with a sorrowful heart, I announced that the Daily Tribune would appear no more until the times revived, but that I would continue the weekly edition. Instead of continuing a nine-column weekly, however, I cut it down to five columns, and thereafter, for some four or five years, I found it more difficult to secure advertisements to fill a five-column weekly and more difficult to rake in money enough to publish a weekly of that size and to pay one printer and a boy than I had formerly found to publish one nearly twice as large and to pay off a dozen employes.
By the year 1878 times began to improve somewhat and the old settlers began to feel that they could see daylight ahead. By 1880 the times had so far improved that I enlarged the paper to eight columns, and by May of 1881, things looked so rosy that I revived the Evening Tribune, supplying it again with the Associated Press dispatches.
One of the telegraph operators who during the early years took the reports for me was C. E. Van Bergen, now the manager of the Duluth General Electric Company, and the boy who for a long time delivered the dispatches to my office was Otto C. Hartman, then a lively lad in short pants, but now one of our solid business men. Still later he was for some years the chief operator and manager of the office himself.
At that time I made an agreement with that company that if anyone else should apply for a telegraphic franchise at Duluth I should have the choice of the two, the evening or the morning.
Well, about February of 1882, Milie Bunnell, then a very young man, struck town.
He had some money, plenty of ability and lots of ambition, and had had considerable newspaper experience for one of his years, and he had not been here many days until he caught the Duluth fever and concluded that this was about the kind of a town in which he would like to cast his lot and found a daily paper, and so he proceeded to get ready to launch one, which he did in April of that year — to wit, the Duluth Herald — and upon his applying for a telegraphic franchise then it was that I had to make choice and I chose the morning franchise, and that is how the News-Tribune now happens to be a morning instead of an evening paper.
I continued the publication of the daily until December of 1889, publishing a better paper all the time than the little city could adequately support.
I was compelled to do the work of about two men most of the time, and no one will ever know how hard I struggled during those years to keep the paper up to the standard required by the public and at the same time meet my bills and ‘make the ghost walk’ on Saturday evenings. It is one thing to publish a daily in this splendid city of ours now, but it was quite another to publish one in Duluth of that period and make ends meet.
At length, by reason of overwork and worry — chiefly the latter — my health became somewhat impaired. I could not do any more work than I was doing and I could not well get along by doing any less. While in this condition a couple of young men, proteges of my old friend, James J. Hill, and young men whom he was willing to help, came along and offered me $47,000 in cash for the entire plant and I let them have it. It is a matter of history, however, that they made a bad mess of it, ran the paper heavily in debt, and that inside of two years Mr. Hill found the paper on his hands, and becoming disgusted with the management of the young men whom he had tried to assist, he sold the paper to Messrs. Hartley and Mendenhall. Afterwards they purchased the Daily News and consolidated it with the Tribune under the name of the News-Tribune. Still later Mr. Mendenhall sold his interest in the outfit to Mr. Hartley, who then sold a half interest to the present manager, Mr. Milie Bunnell.
This, in brief, is the history of the Duluth Daily Tribune from birth to the time that I parted with it, and I shall never cease to feel a pride in its present success and prosperity. I am extremely gratified that it is now in the hands of gentlemen of newspaper instincts and who have the financial ability to make it, and who are making it, one of the best and ablest dailies in the whole Northwest.
The Superior Gazette, to which Mr. Mitchell refers in his narrative, was the successor to the Chronicle, the first paper published at the head of the lakes, and although it is not a part of the history of Duluth, it merits mention at some length, as at the time it was the only means by which the people who were then living on the present site of Duluth kept in contact with the affairs of the outside world, except through the slow and uncertain mails. The Chronicle was really the “voice of one crying in the wilderness” to proclaim to the world the gospel of city building and fortune making.
Washington Adams and John C. Wise, natives of Maryland, employed in the “Congressional Globe” office at Washington, were induced by Stephen A. Douglas, then a United States senator from Illinois, to establish a newspaper at Superior. Their printing outfit was purchased in Philadelphia and selected by Mr. Wise in person. It cost about $800 and included a Foster handpress with stationary platens (the impression being made from below), newspaper type and material and a small outlay for job work, which was all done upon the hand-press. Mr. Wise has thus described his experiences; as his represents, practically, the experience of the entire band of pioneers, it will be profitable to quote his remarks:
We were landed at Stuntz’s pier, Minnesota Point, on May 20, 1855, and rowed across the pretty bay in small boats, and as we ascended the steep bank of soft red clay, made slippery by the falling rain, with an occasional splash of mud upon our clothing, our feelings of disappointment were not a little intensified.
We were heartily welcomed at the new hotel by O. K. Hall, the proprietor, who seemed anxious to make everyone at home, and a cheerful fire in the large sitting room, the only one enclosed and finished, soon dispelled much of our gloom. A portion of the second floor was divided into bedrooms by cloth partitions, which were set apart for the married guests, while those of us who were not so fortunate as to have entered that happy state were aligned upon blankets spread upon the floor of the sitting room and afterwards covered with comfortables by the accommodating attendants, where eight or ten enjoyed the luxuriant hospitality of Superior’s first hostelry. Our fare was hearty and strengthening; pork, beans, bread without butter, together with a noon addition of prune pie for dessert, comprised our daily bill of fare. We all ate heartily and the proprietor or his steward was not perplexed in concocting tempting spreads for his guests, but he gave us everything and more than the markets afforded and hosts and guests were satisfied, the latter most cheerfully accepting the situation at $2.50 per day.
Mr. Wise in his account omits to say that his own room was a sort of closet which had no windows — no apertures to let in daylight. Being very tired on the day of his arrival and unable to see the sun rise or other evidences of morning light in his darkened room, he continued to sleep soundly and refreshingly. Sleep is always sound and refreshing at Superior — until 2 o’clock of the following afternoon, greatly to the amusement of the town people, who were, of course, informed by dinner time of Mr. Wise’s extraordinary sleeping capacities. Let Mr. Wise, continue, however:
There was not a vacant building to be had in the town suitable for our printing office, and the best we could do was to accept the use of a pre-emption cabin (the first in Superior). The floor of the building was of small tamarack trees, split through the center, turned split side upwards and nailed to cross timbers beneath. The absence of nails in the general construction of the edifice was one of the distinguishing characteristics, four or five pounds comprising the entire consumption of this very essential material of the present day.
Our first issue was presented to a critical public a few days in advance of the date of publication, which was June 12, 1855.
It was before the day of patent insides or outsides, or the still greater convenience of ready-made plates, and all the matter had to be set up. We used long primer type for reading matter and brevier for advertisements. The size was six columns to a page, and though our population was probably, including half-breeds and Indians, not to exceed 300 or 400, we printed 1,000 copies of our first issue, and in less than a week they were all sent to regular subscribers or sold to be sent to friends throughout the country. With new type, press and material the paper presented a creditable appearance and elicited many compliments.
Soon after the issue of the first number of the Chronicle, Superior was honored with a visit from John W. Forney, at that time chief clerk of the House of Representatives; Fletcher Webster, the President’s private secretary; Banker Riggs, of Washington; John D. Hoover, United States Marshal of the District of Columbia, and others. It was a jolly party and naturally these gentlemen visited the printing office, bought copies of the Chronicle to send to friends abroad, directing them from our press table, and enjoying the novel surroundings of the first printing office at the head of the lakes. Mr. Forney had commenced life as a printer’s devil, and though still young had ascended fame’s ladder to its giddy rounds. He was a genial, generous-hearted and a splendid gentleman. He set a few lines of type from the cases, saying that it was his first composition for twenty years, and dancing around the narrow confines of our primitive quarters, accidentally knocked over and, as printers term it, ‘pied’ a form of type standing against the wall, which was ready for distribution. We shared his fun and assured him it made no difference, but he was not satisfied and soon afterwards returning to his boat, which the party had chartered to bring them from La Pointe, drew and sent to us his check for $50 to repair damages.
We encountered many troubles and inconveniences in this unsuitable structure, chief among which was to be awakened at night in summer by those sudden and severe thunder showers which spring up about the lakes after a hot day. Frequently every case and form in the office was thoroughly soaked with water, jobs bespattered, press saturated and rusted, and everything damp and wet by the water which ran in streams through the bark roof. Mr. and Mrs. Ashton fared no better in their apartments, and more than once I have gone in to start the fire for the morning meal and found them both comfortably snoozing on their feather bed, placed under the dining table as a protection against the water and a closely drawn net over the whole to keep out mosquitoes, little pests so abundant and so persistently annoying in pioneer days.
The year 1856 was one of great activity among the speculators at Superior. They platted new towns on both sides of the lake, formed mining companies without end, organized new railway corporations, and projected all sorts of pools and combinations by which they hoped to make their fortunes. Colonel Carlton owned and platted the site of a future great city at Fond du Lac; Capt. John W. Veale platted the Sweetzer tract west of the water works plant and called it Vealesburg; E. F. Ely had located and was laying the foundations of a city at Oneota, where he built a sawmill; Rice’s Point at the head of the bay and Conner’s Point, on the Wisconsin side, previously pre-empted, were laid out; Captain Markland pre-empted Endion, Minn., which he afterwards platted into suburban lots for ‘capitalists doing business at Superior’; John D. Howard was the founder of Portland, on the Minnesota side; in the spring Messrs. George R. Stuntz, George E. and William Nettleton, Orrin W. Rice, John D. Ray and others pre-empted the city of Duluth at the upper end of Minnesota Point. I remember the day they returned and how enthusiastically they spoke of their new venture, and as every new town and city of reasonable pretensions is not considered really started on the road of future greatness until it has enjoyed a newspaper ‘write-up,’ the ‘Chronicle’ performed this mission.
During the year 1856 wealthy and enterprising Kentuckians with their pockets literally full of money swarmed up to Superior, bringing blooded horses and cattle, carriages, gigs and other vehicles galore. Each and every one had his satchels, as well as his pockets, to use the words of one of the old settlers, ‘crammed full of Kentucky banknotes,’ and during that year the man who did not have at least one pocketful of this kind of money was considered pretty small potatoes.
The fall season of navigation was a boisterous one in 1856 and in the latter part of October two steamers (one the old Superior) — loaded largely with supplies for our merchants and citizens — were lost on the lakes, together with valuable cargoes and some passengers and officers. Our chief means of communicating with the world at large was via the lakes, and by this route we received all our supplies. The closing of the lakes was usually for a period of about six months and families purchased in the fall a supply of provisions covering that period. This was done by sending orders by the officers of the boats or purchasing from men who traveled on the boats in the fall with supplies, selling at such points as the boat stopped at. The last boats were always loaded in this way and the loss of the steamers referred to was a great hardship for the people of Superior, for the merchants did not carry supplies in the quantities demanded, and it was too late to duplicate the orders lost. The last boat to arrive at Superior was the Lady Elgin. She had been freighted chiefly for other points, but having still a small quantity of provisions not disposed of and learning of our unfortunate situation, came through to the head of the lake. Not only were the articles sold at the market price, but realizing the situation the captain promised to make another trip if the weather would permit. The flour was sold at about $8 per barrel, but before the boat had disappeared from sight on its homeward trip the price had risen in the hands of those who bought for speculation to $18 and $20 per barrel.
It was a cold, raw day when the Lady Elgin left Superior, but it was colder, gloomier and far more sad to those of our people whose provisions had been lost upon the lake and who were thus left, short of funds, to make a dreary struggle for six months, amid the rigors of winter, for sustenance for themselves and families. The Lady Elgin proved to be our last boat. The settlement did not have one-quarter its necessary quota of provisions — not even flour — and every family was stinted, for those who had a competency, with true pioneer generosity, shared with their less fortunate neighbors, trusting to Providence to see them through. And this same generous spirit was manifest throughout the winter. If one family had a barrel of flour or even less, and some neighbor nothing, it was cheerfully shared as long as it lasted. It was not an uncommon thing, towards the end of the season, to be reduced to a few pounds of meal, not knowing where the next would come from. But all bore up heroically, not desponding or giving up, but with unwavering faith believing that something would turn up to relieve the stringency and carry them through the season. And it always did. Sometimes half-breeds would pack flour and pork through from the upper St. Croix and then teams from Hudson and Stillwater would work their way through with loads of provisions, all of which met with ready sale. There was a general scarcity of flour, pork and like articles, while with many families butter, eggs and small groceries were wholly unknown. Potatoes, too, were scarce, and the fish which our lake so bountifully furnished were used not only for food, but the oil and fryings of the fattest varieties served useful purposes as a substitute for lard.
Our misfortunes did not come singly, for about the time the last boat left us a disarrangement occurred in our overland mail, and for about six weeks it was entirely suspended. We had raised a purse of fifty or more dollars to reward the half-breed carriers for their swiftness and fidelity, but when they got this sum in their hands they abandoned their posts and our mails accumulated at midway stations. For a month we were completely shut off from communication with the world. In this interval the Presidential election occurred and while we knew the result of our own precinct, we were kept in a state of uncertainty and speculation as to the general result. This was the severest trial ever encountered in an editorial experience of more than thirty-five years. Miscellaneous matters from old exchanges helped us very much for the first two weeks, but these exhausted, the third issue was a trial. An old report upon some transatlantic question, a Christian almanac for the previous year and an old magazine furnished material for the outside, but the entire inside must be devoted to local matters. Our ingenuity and abilities were severely taxed, but the exigency was met and overcome, and in doing so we extolled the future greatness of Superior, its remarkable commercial advantages, and such things, by no means new to our readers, but the repetition of which at this particular time served to divert our minds from the present and lose its inconveniences and shortcomings in the visions of a hopeful future. During the latter part of November our overland mail line was re-established; the result of the election and the triumph of the Democratic ticket became known, and was the cause of much rejoicing. The good health of Buchanan and Breckinridge — the latter being a large owner in Superior — was as often and heartily pledged as elsewhere in the United States, with this difference, that our enthusiasm commenced after theirs had ceased and the result had become an old story.
A good many citizens and some families who could conveniently get away, knowing the scarcity of provisions, went to their old homes and elsewhere to spend the winter. In view of this fact and the increased labors and expense which the scarcity of supplies entailed upon us, the proprietors of the Chronicle resolved to make an issue every two weeks, and this was carried into effect after the first of January. Our plan was to get our issue out and mailed, and then mustering our forces go into the nearest timber, chop cord wood for a day or two, then haul it home on hand sleds, where we would reduce it to stove wood. By the time this was done we would resume office labors, and attained considerable agility in swinging the ax, which in turn brought fine muscular development and robust health.
The spring of 1857 opened early and much before the usual time the western end of Lake Superior and its harbors were free from ice. Though navigation on the lake was possible, we had little reason to look for boats from below, chiefly on account of the uncertainty in opening the Sault Canal. Our shortness of supplies continued and the relief which overland trains had afforded was cut off by the breaking up of winter. We were subsisting as best we could from the limited resources of the little community, with occasional small quantities purchased from traders and others at neighboring points — flour sometimes $60 per barrel and potatoes not to be had.
Finally one beautiful, bright, sunny spring morning, while some citizens were trying to negotiate with a trader for a number of barrels of flour for which he asked an exorbitant price, because of the exigencies of our situation, and when it seemed as if we had at last reached the end of our string, way off on the placid lake a slight cloud was noticed at the horizon. It looked as if it might be the smoke of an approaching steamer, and yet we had no information upon which to expect one. Amid our hopes and fears and anxious speculations the cloud speck gradually developed until there could no longer be a doubt that it was the smoke of a steamer coming to our relief. As it steamed in through Superior entry and reached the pier the whole populace, wild with excitement and joy, was there to receive her and welcome such of our friends as were among her passengers. Bells were rung, anvils were fired and every possible manifestation of joy was indulged. It was indeed a happy hour for the little settlement.
The boat brought everything in the provision line that could be desired — flour, pork, hams, butter, eggs, and indeed everything that our half-starved appetites could covet — even to a bountiful supply of lager beer, champagne and stronger drinks.
It was indeed a day of thanksgiving, rejoicing and feasting. We feasted royally, too, and instead of sitting down to the inevitable dough cake with possibly a few potatoes or a piece of salt pork, we had everything the appetite could crave. The day was a veritable holiday, not enforced by executive decree or long established custom. It was the natural outburst and tribute which happy hearts and willing hands impulsively paid to our deliverance.
The gloom of the morning was forgotten; men, women and children ran about the streets shouting their glad hurrahs, and having feasted, and feasted to their hearts’ content, the western sun went down that evening upon truly the happiest little community to be found anywhere within the limits of civilization.
Other boats came in and departed, laden with passengers and freight, and were more or less the occasion of excitement and pleasure, but no one in the settlement will ever forget that first boat and the widespread happiness which it brought to each and every one of us.
Society here was homogeneous and enjoyable in the early days. The people were young, active, and generally well educated.
Sufficient time had not yet elapsed for the creation of exclusive cliques of aristocracy and wealth. Social gatherings wore frequent and practically the entire neighborhood present on every occasion. Sometimes public balls were given in a very elaborate and stylish manner, in honor of the most distinguished men and women of the nation. Among the visitors thus honored were Charles Sumner, Jesse D. Bright, W. A. Richardson, John W. Forney, William Aiken, Stephen A. Douglas, W. W. Corcoran, John C. Breckinridge, and many others of that class. Perhaps the most elaborate of these balls, though it did not embrace as distinguished guests as some of its predecessors, was held on the first of January, 1856, under the auspices of the Superior Yacht Club. The dinner was served in the Superior House, with the following elaborate and heavy bill of fare:
Fish. Baked Whitefish. Baked Siskiwit. Baked Trout. Broiled Lake Superior Herring. Boiled.
Ham. Tongue. Leg of Mutton (Egg Sauce).
Corned Beef. Chicken.
Turkey (Oyster Sauce).
Beef. Mutton. Pig. Lamb (Mint Sauce).
Turkey. Chicken. Spruce Partridge.
Fond du Lac Pheasant. Bear (Superior Style).
Venison (Cranberry Sauce).
Chicken Vol-au-Vent. Pig’s Feet with Drawn Butter.
Calf’s Heart with Port Wine Sauce. Meat Pie.
Breast of Lamb Stuffed with Onions. A la Mode Beef.
Beaver’s Tails, Hall’s Fashion. Rabbit.
Vegetables: Green Corn. Green Peas. Hominy. Mashed Potatoes.
Baked Potatoes. Beets. Turnips.
Pickled Oysters. Pickled Lobsters. Pickled Tripe.
Pickled Cucumbers. Pickled Beets.
Mince Pie. Apple Pie. Cranberry Pie. Custard Pie. Pumpkin Pie. Manomin Pudding. Baked Indian Pudding. Bird’s Nest
Tapioca Pudding. Plum Pudding. Fruit Cake.
Jelly Cake. Sponge Cake. Cookies.
Apples. Almonds. Raisins. Pecan Nuts. Filberts.
English Walnuts, Etc.
Heidsick. Golden Cluster. Longworth’s Sparkling Catawba.
Old Pale, Vintage of 1834. Old Brown, Vintage of 1839.
St. Julien Medoe. Chateau Margaux.
Siskiwit is the Chippewa name for a delectable salmon found in Lake Superior waters. Manomin pudding, listed under the head Pastry, was made of wild rice. It should be recollected that those who prepared this dinner were not served by railway, express, steamboat or even stage line. Every article mentioned in the bill of fare had been drawn from the supplies on hand.
There was no telegraph line by which to send messages for fresh vegetables and rare fruits, but such as are mentioned in this early bill of fare were taken from private root-cellars and from stock raised in the county.
In addition to balls and social gatherings, the churches established literary clubs and lecture courses. Racing and skating upon the ice in the bay and sleighing parties and snowshoe matches were common. These evening skating parties were very picturesque, the men being dressed largely in Mackinaw suits and caps, while the women were no less comfortably and gayly attired. Large fires kindled in circles on the ice to give light and warmth added much to the character and attractiveness of the scene.
The difficulties attending the publication of a newspaper in the early days are well illustrated by the following paragraph, which was conspicuously printed on the front page of the Tribune on June 6, 1889. Editor Mitchell was evidently much exercised, and evidently with good cause, but however ludicrous the affair appears today, there was nothing of a humorous nature about it at the time when Mr. Mitchell published the following apology:
We desire to apologize to our readers for the miserable manner in which the Tribune has been printed. We like to print a neat paper, but, situated as we have been and dependent upon an intemperate pressman who shamefully neglects his work and the machinery under his charge, but whose place could not readily be filled, it has been simply impossible. On many occasions, also, the Tribune has been from one to two hours late from the same cause. Owing to the condition of some of our machinery yesterday the Tribune was not printed until the afternoon, and when it did come out we were not at all proud of its appearance. We are doing all in our power to put things to rights, and if our readers will bear with us for a few days we hope that they will have no grounds for complaining either as to the typographical appearance of the Tribune or as to the hour of its appearance in the morning.