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Roseau County Times

Roseau County times (Roseau, Minn.) 1895-1917 Browse the title

The Roseau County Times was published as a weekly newspaper beginning on July 19, 1895 and continuing until June 29, 1917. Designated as the "official paper of the county and village of Roseau" in northwestern Minnesota, it was four pages with six or seven columns throughout its run. The paper was first labeled "Independent," but by 1907 it was considered "Independent Republican."

An attorney, Roger J. Bell, was the founder, publisher and first editor of the Roseau County Times. He was described as "volatile, fiery, and pitilessly frank" and never failed to publish his opinions on issues of the day, whether popular or not. Bell thrived on controversy and the more he kept the pot boiling, the more he increased the circulation of his newspaper. Most people understood, however, that behind his sharp tongue was an editor whose main concern was the promotion of Roseau County. The printing shop of the Roseau County Times was called "The Tabernacle" and editor Bell invited folks to drop in and chat. It became a favorite meeting place for Roseauites to visit and swap stories of the breaking of the frontier.

Roseau County was established in 1894 and its county seat Roseau was incorporated in 1895. Located just south of the border with Canada, the city of Roseau is located in an area of pine forests, bog lands, and prairie to the west which became a prime agricultural region known as the Red River Valley. Almost all the men in the Roseau area left to work in the Red River Valley during the fall harvest because the settlers were in dire need of cash. An article in the paper in 1898 pleaded for men to stay home and build up their own farms instead of leaving the county to go to the Red River Valley. It was argued that those who had homestead rights ought to make Roseau County their home and work their own fields. One of the major issues for farmers was the drainage of their land. Early in the 1900s three ditches were created to alleviate the problem. As the business of farming expanded, good crops of hay, wheat, oats, and potatoes were grown in the area.

A turning point for the development of Roseau County occurred in 1900 when the Canadian National Railway built a line around the south shore of the Lake of the Woods, through the village of Warroad, and across the northwestern section of Roseau County. This and other circumstances led the recalcitrant James J. Hill to extend a branch of the Great Northern Railroad into Roseau County as far as Greenbush in 1904 and into Roseau in 1908.

Newspapers around the turn-of-the century chronicled the scant news of local interest, but often relied heavily on syndicated articles to produce a paper. By 1910 the Roseau County Times was using more local news and news from surrounding communities. It still published stories in serial form, and an occasional "How-to-do-it" article for a farmer or his wife.

Starting with the January 12, 1917 issue, John P. Grothe became the editor and publisher. Grothe was an experienced newspaperman who was raised in Northern Minnesota and also worked as a farmer. The paper merged with the Roseau Region in June of 1917 to become the Roseau Times-Region.

The first issue of the Roseau Times-Region was published on July 6, 1917 by the Roseau Printing Company which was made up of management from the two papers put together—John P. Grothe, Ray A. Gilbertson, and Paul H. Buran. A statement in that issue explained that there was "no call for two newspapers in Roseau", but it would be a "stronger and better paper with a wider circulation." The Times-Region is still published today.

Sources

Roger J. Bell (ed.) in Roseau County Times, July 26, 1895, p. 4

Wahlberg, Hazel H. The North Land: a History of Roseau County. Roseau, MN: Roseau County Historical Society, 1975, pg. 65-66, 76-78.