Fergus Falls Ugeblad

Fergus Falls ugeblad (Fergus Falls, Minn.) 1882-1938 Browse the title

Fergus Falls Ugeblad ("Fergus Falls Weekly Newspaper") began in 1882 as the second Norwegian-language newspaper in Fergus Falls, Minnesota. The first paper, the Normanna Banner was launched in 1860 and had gone out of business. John Schroeder, the Banner's publisher, sold his type and printing press to A. (Adoniram) J. Underwood, the editor of the Fergus Falls Journal. Underwood saw a continued need for a Norwegian-American newspaper in Otter Tail County, especially one with a Republican orientation, so he formed a new publishing company and hired A. (Aslak) K. Teisberg as editor. The Ugeblad continued the numbering of the Banner and began as a four-page weekly printed in Dano-Norwegian (at the time Danish was the basis for the Norwegian written language) with a Fraktur font. The paper contained international news, particularly from Norway and Denmark; national news with regular columns highlighting news from Chicago and Washington; and state and local news from the Fergus Falls area.

Situated in the farming region of the Red River Valley of Northwestern Minnesota, Fergus Falls was a stop on the Northern Pacific and Great Northern Railroad lines. It had been incorporated in the late 1870s and became a center for Norwegian immigrants, many of them part of an earlier wave of immigration to Chicago and Minneapolis. With abundant water power, Fergus Falls was adjacent to pine forest, hardwood lumber, and prairie land and was also known for its flour milling and manufacturing.

In 1884, Anfin Solem purchased the Ugeblad and succeeded Teisberg as editor. Solem was born in Trondheim, Norway, was educated as a teacher, and came to the United States and settled in Fergus Falls in 1879. Under his leadership, the Ugeblad shifted its political orientation in support of agrarian reforms championed by the Farmers' Alliance and the Populist Party. The Ugeblad became a considerable political force behind the new movement. However, eight years later factionalism within the Farmers' Alliance movement led to another change in the Ugeblad's editorial policy. Alliance politics in Minnesota at the time were driven by those opposed to Populist politician Ignatius Donnelly. Solem joined forces with that anti-Donnelly faction and endorsed Norwegian-American Republican candidate Knute Nelson for the state's governorship.

By 1893 Ugeblad had a weekly circulation of about 2,000 and provided considerable space to articles about religion and temperance, and also included serialized literature and even humor. The Ugeblad continued to outwardly profess its support of Populism, but was often critical of its new Populist rival, Rodhuggeren ("The Radical"). The two Fergus Falls newspapers regularly supported different political candidates. The more radical Rodhuggeren surpassed the Ugeblad by 1895 to become the leading Norwegian-language newspaper in Otter Tail County, with a circulation of 4,000 and significant readership in northwestern Minnesota and eastern North Dakota.

With the defeat of William Jennings Bryan in the presidential election of 1896, the Populist Party steadily declined in Otter Tail County. Even before the election, in February 1896, the Ugeblad had declared itself "an independent reform paper." Solem continued as owner and editor until 1909, when poor health forced him to sell the newspaper to a company headed by Ole P. B. Jacobson. An immigrant from Sandefjord, Norway, Jacobson edited the Ugeblad until 1914.

The Ugeblad continued its tradition of colorful and opinionated editors. Jacobson was succeeded by N. (Nels) T. Moen, the son of Norwegian immigrants. Moen had established an impressive career as a judge, and later, state legislator. As state attorney for the Anti-Saloon League, Moen often spoke on behalf of temperance. In 1915 as editor of the Ugeblad, he sided with most Norwegian-Americans in the Upper Midwest at the time, advocating against American involvement in World War I. Moen served as editor until he died in 1929.

On May 11, 1938, the Ugeblad became the Fergus Falls Ukeblad (also translated as the "Fergus Falls Weekly Newspaper"). It continued to publish in Norwegian and English until December 18, 1946.