Morris Tribune

Stevens County reporter (Morris, Minn.) 1876-1877  Browse the title

Stevens County tribune (Morris, Minn.) 1877-1880  Browse the title

Morris tribune (Morris, Minn.) 1880-2000  Browse the title

The Stevens County Reporter began publication on November 23, 1876, in Morris, Minnesota. Situated in west-central Minnesota, Morris had been founded in 1869 as a station site for the St. Paul and Pacific Railroad. The Reporter was a politically independent four-page, seven-column newspaper issued weekly. In its first issue, editor and publisher W.H. Graves promoted Stevens County for its “rolling and well drained” and “very rich and fertile” farm land and stated that “farmers in particular will find our paper of much value to them.” In addition to local, state, national, and international news, the Stevens County Reporter included regular agricultural news and advice. The grasshopper plague that ravaged farm lands in Stevens County is discussed in the March 31, 1877 issue.

When Graves left the Reporter in 1877, Sergeant Julius Converse “Shanghai” Chandler, a Civil War veteran and “spicy” editor of several Wisconsin newspapers, became editor and publisher. In the March 10, 1877 issue, Chandler described Graves as “an awful dead-beat swindler” for “obtaining money and goods under false pretenses” from others.

In mid-1877, John F. Todd took over as editor and publisher and renamed the newspaper the Stevens County Tribune, a newspaper that was, he stated, “devoted to general news and interests of Stevens County.” The Tribune was a four-page, seven-column newspaper published weekly, covering local to international news. In 1878, William James Munro became editor and publisher. A Republican, Munro took a favorable editorial view of Republican politics and looked unfavorably on Democrats. In the October 14, 1880 issue, Munro spoke out against the nomination of Judge Emmett by the Democratic Party for the district’s legislature because it went against the interests of the heavily Republican county. By 1879, up to five hundred households subscribed to the Tribune. Of interest to researchers is an article in the January 1, 1880 issue providing facts and figures on the early years of Morris and Stevens County. Munro changed the title of the newspaper to the Morris Tribune on April 8, 1880.  

The Morris Tribune served as one of the two principal newspapers in Stevens County for over a century. Early issues were four-pages and up to eight-columns per page, retaining a Republican bent. Munro left the printing industry in 1882 but returned in 1894 as editor and publisher of the other major Morris newspaper, the Morris Sun. Eugene Wilson Randall took over as editor and publisher of the Tribune in 1882. After the 1882 debut of the rival Sun, a Democratic newspaper published by Fielder Bowie Chew, insults between the papers’ editors were frequently exchanged on their pages. Colonel Rufus Stevens became editor and publisher of the Tribune in 1888, continuing until his death in 1893. Rufus’s wife, Helen, and her two sons, Rufus F. and Bruce, took over the paper until Helen’s passing in 1898.

The purchase of the Morris Tribune by James Crossett Morrison in 1898 marked the start of a multigenerational operation. As a member of the Minnesota Editorial Association, Morrison led a “cost system movement” and, in 1914, was able to win approval of a resolution for publishers to charge a minimum of 15 cents per inch to print advertising so that newspapers could be self-supporting. Morrison’s son Edward, and later grandson Jim, operated the newspaper from 1954 to 2000, when it merged with its rival the Morris Sun to become the Morris Sun Tribune.