The Redwood Gazette

Redwood gazette (Redwood Falls, Minn.) 1873-1940 Browse the title

Redwood gazette (Redwood Falls, Minn.) 1950-current  Browse the title
Issues from this title can only be accessed from the Gale Family Library at the Minnesota History Center.

Redwood Falls sun (Redwood Falls, Minn.) 1910-1928 Browse the title

The Redwood Gazette was first issued as a four-page weekly on May 1, 1873 by William B. Herriott and J. S. Beal, editors and publishers.  It was an eight-column folio with patent pages inside. The Gazette was preceded by an earlier title, Redwood Falls Mail, established by V. C. Seward in 1869; the name was changed by Herriott and Beal upon purchase in 1873.

The Redwood Gazette served as the official paper for Redwood Falls, the county seat, and the surrounding communities in Redwood County, Minnesota, located in the southwestern area of the state along the Minnesota River. This region had been Dakota homeland but saw many changes as Dakota were moved to reservations, including the nearby Lower Sioux Indian Reservation, and later were forcibly removed from Minnesota following the United States-Dakota War of 1862. In the 1870s, Redwood Falls and the surrounding area were affected both by growth following railroad development and by grasshopper plagues that devastated farmlands.

By October 15, 1874, William Herriott had become the sole editor and publisher of the Redwood Gazette. In 1880 Herriott sold the Gazette to James Aiken and W. R. Rigby. Rigby left in 1881, and in 1892, Aiken sold the newspaper to Julius August Schmahl and Herbert V. Ruter. The pair expanded the Gazette from a four-page patent inside paper to an eight-page “all-home print” paper primarily focused on city and county news; by 1900 the paper had a circulation of 1,600.

Ruter retired around December 1893, and Aiken returned to the Gazette, forming the new publishing firm of Aiken & Schmahl. Schmahl, who had worked as an office assistant and printer at the Redwood Gazette beginning at the age of 12, served as editor from 1892 to 1906, when he was elected Minnesota’s Secretary of State. James Aiken continued as publisher until 1911 when the paper was sold to Grove E. Wilson, a St. Paul reporter. After Wilson permanently left Redwood Falls in May 1913 to seek treatment in a New York sanatorium for a serious illness, his wife Bess M. Wilson and Clemens Lauterbach, Redwood Falls’ postmaster, bought the Redwood Gazette. By 1916 Bess Wilson had become the sole owner and publisher.  

Despite no previous newspaper experience, Bess Wilson quickly became a successful and prominent newspaper editor. In a 1917 interview with the Minneapolis Morning Tribune she described her initial challenges learning the newspaper publishing trade while raising her young family on her own and the support she had received from the community. Julius Schmahl in his History of Redwood County in 1916 called Bess Wilson “one of the best newspaper ‘men’ in the state.” At the 1922 National Editorial Association meeting in Missoula, Montana, Wilson gave a presentation titled “A Woman’s View of a Man’s Job.”

Bess Wilson embraced her role as editor of a “country newspaper” and kept the focus of the paper on the local community. In a talk at the University of Missouri Journalism Week in 1926, she described the role of editor of a small, rural newspaper as “much like writing a letter to a large and much interested family.”  Wilson also represented Redwood Falls in the Minnesota State Federation of Women’s Clubs and was appointed to the University of Minnesota Board of Regents in 1924. 

In 1927, Bess Wilson sold the Redwood Gazette to W.E. Barnes and Howard M. Fredrickson. By the 1930s, she was writing for the Minneapolis Journal, and she moved to Los Angeles in 1938 and began a career at the Los Angeles Times. She served for many years as the editor of the Women’s Organizations section of that newspaper, in which many of her articles also appeared.

At the Redwood Gazette, Frederickson quickly left and was replaced as editor by Bert E. Marsh and Esther Davis Stensvad and, later, Scott Schoen, and the new Gazette Publishing Co. was formed. Under this direction, the Gazette continued its local focus. The Redwood Gazette merged with the Redwood County Sun following its May 2, 1940 issue, becoming the Redwood Gazette and Redwood County Sun.  In 1950, the paper’s name reverted to the Redwood Gazette, and it continues to be published semi-weekly today.

The Redwood Falls Sun was published weekly between June 1910 and October 1928 when it was renamed Redwood County Sun.