Askov American

Askov American (Askov, Minn.) 1914-1923  Browse the title

Askov American (Askov, Minn.) 1924-current  Browse the title
Issues from this title can only be accessed from the Gale Family Library at the Minnesota History Center.

The Askov American published its first issue on September 17, 1914, under the editorship of Hjalmar Petersen, who was born January 2, 1890, in Eskildsrup, Denmark, and had immigrated to the United States in 1891.  According to the editor, "the word American has a very broad meaning, and it is the earnest hope and desire of the editor that this newspaper shall stand for just what the word implies.  Our columns are open for the discussion of anything which may be of public interest, a spirit which is shown by every real American - always ready to listen to the argument or opinion of others."  At the time, Askov was an unincorporated hamlet in Partridge Township, Pine County, Minnesota. The Dansk Folkesamfund Society had, in 1905, purchased acreage and encouraged Danish immigrants to settle in the area.  Throughout the ensuing decades, Askov has maintained and celebrated its Danish heritage, including naming its streets in Danish.

Following the introduction of the Askov American in 1914, in 1916, Petersen enticed his brother Svend to join him in the publishing business.  In 1924, they incorporated the American Publishing Company, with Hjalmar as president and Svend as secretary-treasurer.  The partnership lasted until Svend's death in 1961. Hjalmar continued to publish the newspaper until his death in 1968.  His widow, Medora Belle Grandprey Petersen (1896-1997), succeeded him until 1981 when she sold her controlling interest in the company to Petersen's great-nephew Joel Mortensen. While no longer published by family members, today the Askov American is still in publication, serving the Askov community.

From its beginning, this six-column, generally eight-page, weekly carried local news of northern Pine County as well as state and national issues.  It published the Pine County financial statements, news of the county commissioners' meetings, statements of condition of local banks and, especially, news of cooperative agricultural and marketing organizations that were prevalent in the area. It carried a regular column on news from Scandinavia. In the early years occasional advertisements and articles were in Danish.  Individual columns covered news of surrounding townships and hamlets including Partridge, Sandstone, Duquette, Windemere, Norman, Sturgeon Lake, Danforth, Wilma, and Birch Creek.

Hjalmar Petersen took an active part in public affairs helping to incorporate the village of Askov in 1918 and serving as its city clerk and mayor.  He was elected to the state house of representatives in 1930, re-elected in 1932, and elected lieutenant governor of the state of Minnesota in 1936 under the banner of the Farmer-Labor Party.  When Governor Floyd B. Olson died on August 22, 1936, Petersen assumed the governorship, serving through January 1937.  He later allied with the Republican and then the Democratic-Farmer-Labor parties.  Petersen served numerous years on the state Railroad and Warehouse Commission.  He died March 29, 1968.

The personal papers of Hjalmar Petersen (1907-1968; 14.5 cubic feet) and the records of the American Publishing Company (1915-1981; 4.5 cubic feet, 1 microfilm reel) can be found in the manuscript collections of the Minnesota Historical Society.  Official records of Petersen's gubernatorial term are found in the Minnesota Historical Society's state archives holdings.