Northern Pacific Farmer

The Northern Pacific farmer (Wadena, Minn.) 1878-1885 Browse the title

The Wadena Northern Pacific Farmer was started in Wadena, Minnesota, in 1878 as a joint venture between Joseph E. Hall and Marshall McClure. It ran until October 8, 1885. This weekly publication covered Wadena County and the surrounding area in north-central Minnesota and included state and national news updates. The Rowell’s newspaper directory of 1887 lists the Northern Pacific Farmer as a Republican paper, and, although the name suggests an affiliation with the railroad, it appears that no such link existed. The publication began printing with the motto, "Devoted to the agricultural interests of the Northern Pacific country."

The Northern Pacific Farmer was specifically tailored to an agricultural audience, which is reflected in its content and advertisements. In the first few years, farming news took top billing, generally located on the front page of the paper. As the publication aged, the farm news migrated through the paper’s pages. Towards the end of the Northern Pacific Farmer’s run, agricultural information was found among the other special interest material in the middle of the paper.

The paper covered local and regional news extensively, including news and happenings in many smaller surrounding communities. Pages were also devoted to general interest stories of national and international appeal, local gossip and happenings, and serial fiction. For one year, the Northern Pacific Farmer included the supplements: Wadena Weekly Tribune (May 27, 1880) and the Wadena County Tribune (June 3, 1880-May 19, 1881).

The Northern Pacific Farmer had a series of owner/editor/proprietors. In 1880, Hall and McClure parted ways. Hall made a partnership with William Jay Whipple and continued publishing the paper, while Marshall McClure continued on to Jamestown, North Dakota, to publish the Jamestown Alert. Later in 1880, Hall’s share of the publication was purchased by George Whitney, a town leader and highly decorated veteran. In 1883, both Whipple and Whitney sold their interest to the partnership of Amzi H. Bereman and George Wilson.

George Alonzo Whitney was the most notable and best documented among the handful of owner/proprietors of the Northern Pacific Farmer. Born in Rindge, New Hampshire, in 1837, Whitney served in the Union army during the Civil War and was discharged because of his injuries in 1862. After settling in Wadena, Minnesota, Whitney became a member of Republican state central and congressional committees, representing the 53rd district as senator in 1897. He also served as the president of the board of education of Wadena County, as well as principal of the Wadena graded schools. In Whitney’s obituary from May 1914, the author remembered that "...he has eased the burden of life for many a downtrodden and despondent individual and he has gone to reap that rewards which all men hope and crave."

The Northern Pacific Farmer continued publication under Bereman and Wilson until 1885, when the paper became the Wadena County Pioneer.