Hastings Conserver

Hastings conserver (Hastings, Minn.) 1863-1866  Browse the title

The first issue of the Hastings Conserver was published on May 7, 1863, as continuation of the Minnesota Conserver established by Reverend Cephas Newhall Whitney in Hastings, Minnesota in 1861. The county seat of Dakota County, Hastings is located at the junction of the Saint Croix, Vermillion, and Mississippi Rivers, on land that was originally home to the Dakota people. Hastings was also the starting point of the Hastings and Dakota Railroad, and its transportation connections made it an early commercial center in the state. 

The Hastings Conserver advertised itself as "the spiciest and most wide-awake weekly newspaper in the state…a faithful reflector of the interests and doings of the community." The printing office was located above the First National Bank at the intersection of Sibley and East Second Streets in Hastings.  Irving Todd Sr. was the paper's publisher and editor; before his acquisition of the Conserver he had been employed at several newspapers across the Mississippi River in Pierce and Polk County, Wisconsin. The weekly issues were generally printed with seven columns and four pages of content. Local to international news was covered, along with political, agricultural, and state organizational news. Irving Todd's brother, William R. Todd, joined the Conserver sometime between September of 1864 and April of 1865. 

Irving Todd was a staunch Republican, and his newspaper was also Republican in leaning. Following the election of Republican candidate Stephen Miller as Minnesota’s governor in 1863,  the July 14, 1863 issue of the Conserver stated, "We have no doubt that Col. Miller…is respected by the people and loved by the soldiers. Our only desire is to see ‘the right man in the right place.’ And we believe that Col. Miller is the man." 

The 1865 election of postmaster in Hastings saw some contention between the editors of the Conserver and the Hastings Independent, the other politically Republican newspaper published in Hastings at the time. In the April 17, 1865 issue of the Conserver, Irving Todd pointed out that Columbus Stebbins of the Independent ridiculed those "who took part in the indignation meeting concerning the appointment of postmaster here." The article also noted that Stebbins put himself in the race for postmaster, citing a letter of encouragement from the U.S. Representative Ignatius Donnelly who represented Dakota County at the time. Todd charged Stebbins of "toadying" to Donnelly. Archibald M. Hayes was elected postmaster of Hastings in 1865. 

Also of interest is the coverage of the trial of Hugh McCue for the murder of George H. Arnold of Dakota County, Minnesota, found in the Conserver's December 5 and December 12, 1865 issues. William R. Todd left the Conserver after the March 13, 1866 issue. In the November 13, 1866 issue, the Conserver announced that it would merge with the Hastings Independent to form the Hastings Gazette. The Hastings Gazette, later the Hastings Star Gazette, continued in publication until 2020.