The Freeborn County eagle (Albert Lea, Minn.) 1858-1860 Browse the title

When the Southern Minnesota Star was sold by owner George S. Ruble in May, 1858 to satisfy a debt to the Chicago firm which furnished his printing equipment, Alfred P. Swineford, the editor of the Star, bought the newspaper. On September 18, 1858, he launched the Freeborn County Eagle. It was published in Albert Lea, the county seat of Freeborn County, Minnesota. The paper was issued weekly, every Saturday evening, and was four pages with six columns, like its predecessor the Star.

The slogan below the masthead advertised the paper as, "An Independent Democratic Newspaper, Devoted to Politics, Agriculture, Literature and General and Local Intelligence." Swineford was the first editor of the Eagle from Sept. 18, 1858-Feb. 12, 1859. The paper was then sold back to Ruble and Isaac Botsford.

The political persuasion of the paper changed at this point, illustrated by Swineford’s editorial column written on page 2 in the February 12, 1859 issue of the Eagle entitled, "Good Bye." The article stated:

During this time we have edited and published a paper in this county, we have not grown rich but have barely lived; and now that a good opening is offered us, we are inclined to go in, and we believe no one will blame us for exchanging a barren for a fruitful field…

Isaac Botsford, Esq., a young man of eminent ability, succeeds us in the editorial and proprietary control of the EAGLE--Under his management…the political character of the EAGLE will undergo a change, and will henceforth be a Republican paper. This, perhaps, will not be relished by the Democrats of the County—yet it is but due to the Republicans that they should have control of the County paper, inasmuch as they have already done much more towards its support than their opponents…

Botsford was the second editor of the Freeborn County Eagle from Feb. 19, 1859-May 19, 1860. At the end of May, 1860 the partnership of Ruble and Botsford came to an end, and the Eagle became the Freeborn County Standard with Ruble and Joseph B. Hooker as proprietors.

As a side note, after selling the Freeborn County Eagle in 1859, Alfred P. Swineford moved on to become the editor of the La Crescent Banner newspaper in La Crescent, Minnesota. Later in his career he became a member of the Michigan House of Representatives and served as the Governor of the District of Alaska from 1885-1889.


Spicer, Lester W. "Here Is The Story of Albert Lea’s First Newspaper, Published 85 Years Ago. " Evening Tribune (Albert Lea, MN), May 23, 1942.

Spicer, L.W. "Our Local Newspapers Have Recorded Our History From the Earliest Pioneer Days. " Evening Tribune (Albert Lea, MN), May 7, 1943.