Mower County Register

Mower County register (Austin, Minn.) 1863-1871 Browse the title

Herman Randolph (H.R.) Davidson, attorney, established the Mower County Register and published its first issue on July 2, 1863 with himself listed as editor. In November of the same year he was elected county Attorney of Mower County. The paper had Republican leanings and was published as four pages and six columns once a week on Thursdays.

H. R. Davidson’s salutatory stated that the Mower County Register would be a "valuable text book to every farmer and business man in and about Austin. One containing local items from all points in the county, including the towns of LeRoy, Nevada, Lansing, Brownsdale and Frankford, and thus give our paper a large circulation and make it a valuable medium for advertising.…We shall also favor our readers with army correspondence from those portions of the field where Mower county boys are located."

H.R. Davidson lead the paper until April, 1864, when with failing health he left the paper’s management to his brother, Charles H. Davidson, and moved to St. Charles, Illinois. He died there on May 4, 1864. He was considered a man of great ability and had been an important part of the community, so he was mourned by a large circle of friends and acquaintances.

C.H. Davidson & Co. appeared on the masthead shortly after H.R. Davidson’s death. In August, 1868 Henry O. Basford purchased a half interest in the paper and the firm Davidson & Basford was formed.

Born in Maine, Henry Basford moved to Wisconsin with his family as a young boy. He learned the printing business and over time worked in many newspapers in places such as Madison, Wisconsin; St. Paul, Minnesota; St. Joseph, Missouri; and Denver, Colorado. For a time he was a gold miner and adventurer in Leadville, Colorado. He then became employed at the Chicago Tribune, and eventually moved to Austin, Minnesota in 1867.

By 1870 the circulation of the Mower County Register was about 900. It was referred to as the oldest and the only paper wholly published in the county, and the official paper of the city and county. Over time the newspaper continued to see steady growth in circulation and influence. The office became well-equipped with modern machinery, such as a power press, steam engine, and job presses. The newspaper grew to become an eight-column folio.

The last issue of the Mower County Register was published on June 22, 1871. On July 29, 1871 the title changed to the Austin Register.


Adams, Jean H. and John Kay. Tales of Mower County. Austin, Minn.: Mrs. Jean H. Adams, 1949.

Curtiss-Wedge, Franklyn, comp. The History of Mower County Minnesota. Chicago: H.C. Cooper, Jr., & Co. , 1911

Inter-State Publishing Company, Minneapolis, comp. History of Mower County, Minnesota. Mankato, Minn., 1884

Paden, R.N., comp. Early History of Mower County, Minnesota. Austin, Minn.: W.A. Hotchkiss (editor of the Republican), 1876