Northfield News

The Dundas news (Dundas, Minn.) 1876-1879  Browse the title

The Northfield news (Northfield, Minn.) 1879-1963  Browse the title

The Northfield news (Northfield, Minn.) 1964-current  Browse the title
Issues from this title can only be accessed from the Gale Family Library at the Minnesota History Center.

The Northfield News has served the Rice County community in southeastern Minnesota for well over a century. Founded by Henry E. Lawrence, the first issue was published in Dundas, Minnesota on November 4, 1876 as the Dundas News. In 1879, Mr. Lawrence moved the four-page weekly three miles northeast to Northfield, invoking the newspaper’s current title. Working side by side with the editors and publishers of another local newspaper, the Northfield Rice County Journal, the Northfield News began its long life in print.

Located along the Cannon River, the city of Northfield, Minnesota was founded by John W. North in 1855 and became a successful agricultural and milling town. Carleton College, originally known as Northfield College, and St. Olaf College were erected in the 1860s and 1870s, respectively, adding an important educational element to the city’s economy. As successful wheat production began moving to western states, Northfield evolved to become an important dairy farming community; broadcasting the successful transition in the city’s motto "cows, colleges, and contentment".

"Home news before politics" was printed on the front page of the Dundas News on July 5, 1879. That changed in 1884 when H. E. Lawrence sold his newspaper to the partners Joel P. Heatwole and James A. Minder. Active in the Republican Party, Mr. Heatwole bought Mr. Minder’s interest in the newspaper in 1888, and used the Northfield News as an organ of the party. During Mr. Heatwole’s twenty-six years as publisher, he served as secretary of the Minnesota state central committee of the Republican Party, president of the Minnesota Editorial Association, mayor of Northfield, and U. S. representative for the Third Congressional district from 1894-1900. Editor, W. F. Schilling, maintained the Northfield News during Mr. Heatwole’s travels to Washington. An active farmer and promoter of the dairy industry, Mr. Schilling also edited Heatwole’s Dairy Paper, which later became the Minnesota Dairyman, until its discontinuance in 1917.

The Northfield News eventually developed into a twelve page newspaper, striking a balance between national content and local news, editorials, and advertisements. The Rice County Journal was absorbed in 1884, creating a rivalry between the two remaining Northfield newspapers, the Northfield News and the Northfield Independent, which lasted almost eighty years. After J. P. Heatwole’s death on April 4, 1910, Herman Roe purchased the newspaper, and remained devoted to it for over fifty years. The early success of the Northfield News gave it the reputation of "Minnesota’s Model Weekly".


Castle, Henry A. Minnesota: Its Story and Biography. Chicago and New York: The Lewis Publishing Co., 1915.

Clark, Clifford. "Evolution of a Community." In Northfield: The History and Architecture of a Community, produced by Northfield Heritage Preservation Commission, 4. Northfield, MN: Northfield Printing, 1999.

Lawson, John. "An Appreciation by a Former Competitor and Colleague." Northfield News, January 1, 1926, 14.

Ness, Alyssa. 2009. The Northfield News vs. the Northfield Independent. Northfield Historical Society, September 24, 2009.

Weicht, Carl L. "The News Begins Volume Fifty Today." Northfield News, January 1, 1926, 1.

Weicht, C. L. "Northfield Newspapers and Their Editors." Northfield Independent, May 5, 1927, 3.

Zellie, Carole. "Historic Resources." In Northfield: The History and Architecture of a Community, produced by Northfield Heritage Preservation Commission, 44. Northfield, MN: Northfield Printing, 1999.