Owatonna Journal

Owatonna journal (Owatonna, Minn.) 1867-1886  Browse the title

The Owatonna Journal was printed in Owatonna, Minnesota, the county seat of Steele County in southern Minnesota. The terrain of Steele County includes rolling prairies with oak trees and grasses. The rich, dark loam soil in Steele county allowed farmers to cultivate cereals and raise livestock. Many of Owatonna's early settlers immigrated from Austria-Hungary, and by 1878 the population of Owatonna had reached approximately 3,200. 

The Journal was established in April 1867, as a result of the merger of the Republican Journal and the Owatonna Vedette (no issues extant for either title). It continued the numbering of the Republican Journal, which in turn had continued the numbering of the Owatonna Plaindealer.  The Journal was a politically Republican newspaper operated by William Wallace Higbee and John Adams Spelman, previously of the Vedette. Early issues were generally four pages long with eight to nine columns of content. Local to international news as well as congressional news were featured, along with market reports, business notices, railroad schedules, and a farm management column. Issues were printed on Thursdays, switching to Fridays starting with the November 22, 1878 issue. An early motto printed on issues read "Principles, Not Men."

In March 1868, William H. Bickman of the Chatfield Democrat joined the Journal. In December of the same year, the Journal Printing Co. was established as publisher after Higbee was replaced at the newspaper by Charles Sheratt Crandall. Spelman left the paper after the April 22, 1875 issue, later moving to the Dakota Territory. A new motto which read "Principles and Men" debuted with the May 13, 1875 issue. In January of 1876, Crandall was appointed Postmaster of Owatonna. Bickman died on April 11, 1876, leaving Crandall sole operator. Crandall sold the paper to Francis T. Drebert following the October 19, 1876 issue. A new motto which read "The Pioneer newspaper of Steele County" appeared in the August 9, 1877 issue. The paper received a makeover with the April 24, 1885, issue, which reduced the number of page columns to six. 

In the article entitled "Everybody's Business" printed in the April 20, 1883 issue, the Journal advocated for the Minnesota State Fair to remain in Owatonna, arguing that it "will prove of great benefit to the farmers of Steele County. Enough money should be raised to erect permanent buildings. It is everybody's business." Unfortunately, no permanent buildings were constructed in Owatonna, making 1884 the final year the state fair was held in Owatonna. In the article entitled "Loss of the State Fair" printed in the February 1, 1884 issue, the Journal blamed the Minnesota State Agricultural Society for the move, suggesting that the Society "needs reorganization and regeneration."

Following the February 5, 1886 issue, the Owatonna Journal merged with the Steele County Herald to form the Journal and Herald. Drebert left the paper following the merger, moving to Chatfield, Minnesota, to work at the Chatfield Democrat. The title of Owatonna Journal was resumed in April 1888. In March 1906 the Journal merged with the Owatonna Chronicle to form the Owatonna Journal-Chronicle. The Journal-Chronicle published its last issue January 17, 1938.