Princeton Union

The Princeton union (Princeton, Minn.) 1876-1976 Browse the title

The Princeton Union circulated its first issue on December 30, 1876, almost a year before the village of Princeton was organized by the Minnesota legislature in 1877. Princeton, located in central Minnesota and the seat of Mille Lacs County, was known as an important supply base and trading post for the pineries along the Rum River, as described in a special article issued on January 1, 1879, "Princeton, Its Stores, Mills, and Shops." The Princeton Union began publishing weekly with a standard four-page, five-column format; the inner two pages consisting of patent content purchased from a news source vendor. The newspaper quit using patent pages on February 16, 1895, and thereafter contained between eight and 16 pages. Under publisher Robert C. Dunn, the Princeton Union was proudly Republican in its editorial politics. The paper printed mainly local and state news but did have some coverage of major national and international news events. The reporting on the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe on the nearby reservation was largely negative.

Robert C. Dunn, who published the Union for 42 years, arrived in Princeton in 1876 at the age of 22 after emigrating from Ireland in 1870. Having previously apprenticed in the newspaper business for a number of years in St. Louis, Missouri, Dunn was hired by J. S. Brocklehurst to work for the Democratic weekly, the Princeton Appeal. Leaving town for a short trip, Brocklehurst appointed Dunn as temporary editor. Within one week, however, Dunn had changed the voice and politics of the newspaper, gaining local favor. He soon decided to go into the newspaper business for himself with the Princeton Union. Soon after the Union’s first issue appeared, Brocklehurst discontinued the Princeton Appeal. Dunn could now boast that the Union was "the official paper of Mille Lacs County and the Village of Princeton." Like many publishers of country newspapers at the time, Dunn gradually became a force in state and regional politics and was elected to numerous positions on the Republican Party platform. In 1904, he ran for governor, but lost a close race to the popular Democrat, John A. Johnson. Dunn’s editorial pages make clear his determination to bring the railroad to Princeton, his attack on the lumber companies for non-payment of taxes, and his support of the good roads movement.

In 1917, Dunn purchased the Princeton News, combining its assets with those of the Princeton Union, and discontinuing the acquired title. On October 28, 1918, Robert Dunn died, and his wife, Lydia, managed the newspaper until February 9, 1922. Their daughter, Grace, appeared as publisher and co-editor in the following issue, having been associate editor since September 1920. Grace A. Dunn continued in both positions for 39 years, incorporating the Milaca Tribune and discontinuing the Milaca newspaper in 1928. She sold the Princeton Union in August 1959 to Glenn and Norma Hage, who had previously published the Mora Kanabec County Times. The Princeton Union changed hands many times over the next 15 years. In 1976, the newspaper was combined with the Princeton Eagle to form the Princeton Union-Eagle.