Mantorville Express

Mantorville express (Mantorville, Minn.) 1857-1946  Browse the title 

After working through the night in an effort to publish Dodge County, Minnesota’s first newspaper, editor John Earle Bancroft and his staff outraced neighboring village Wasioja to present the Mantorville Express on July 16, 1857. Published on Thursdays, this four-to-eight page and six-to-eight column newspaper prioritized local news and editorials with some state and national coverage to act as an organ for the educational development and moral voice of the region. Political discussion was initially deemphasized in the Mantorville Express in the interest of exchanging ideas more openly, though in September 1857, the newspaper identified itself as Republican once the Wasioja Gazette aligned itself with the Democratic Party. However, aside from adamantly advocating temperance, Bancroft maintained a more analytical tone to issues of the time and was primarily concerned with the industrial development of the county.

What may interest researchers most about the Mantorville Express is not only its status as one of the earliest Minnesota newspapers, but also that almost the entire run survives. From early controversies of Mantorville assuming the county seat position in Dodge County to Minnesota achieving statehood to national events such as the Civil War and Lincoln Assassination or the Titanic disaster and World War I, an exhaustive amount of history is covered within this publication. The analytical nature of the news coverage is also somewhat unique for a newspaper of this vintage and the objective tone is particularly beneficial to understanding the development of the region. The Mantorville Express also served as Dodge County’s official paper, which was reflected in the temporary name change to the Mantorville and Kasson Express between September 1880 and October 1886.

J.E Bancroft’s almost nine year tenure as editor and co-publisher earned him unanimous respect as a public figure in Dodge County. After his March 1866 death, his wife Celestia E. Finch Bancroft assumed editorial duties and continued the format and tone of the newspaper as it had been since its inception. As the only woman editor of a newspaper in Minnesota at that time, she worked uncredited for four months to bypass any concerns over her ability and she thrived in the position for three more years.

Several short-term editors followed her until November 1881, when Henry Arthur Smith purchased the newspaper and began a lengthy tenure that rivals only the Bancrofts for cultural engagement and representing Dodge County with a personal voice. Smith’s editorial voice could be described as "gregarious", exhibiting boundless enthusiasm for the region but also a penchant to deviate into any number of side topics. After Smith retired in August 1913, local businessmen formed the Mantorville Express Printing Company and continued publishing with numerous other short-term editors. Publication continued in some form until 1969, when the Mantorville Express was absorbed into the Dodge County Independent, which is still published today.


Glaus, Marlene. Mantorville, Minnesota: The County Seat of Dodge, 1854-1952. Minnesota: 1952.

"Diamond Anniversary Issue", Mantorville Express, 1932.

Severson, Harold. A Tale of Two Cities, Kasson-Mantorville. Hayfield-Mantorville: 1982.