St. Charles Union

St. Charles union (St. Charles, Minn.) 1877-1919 Browse the title

The St. Charles Union was begun by Joseph S. Whiton on January 3, 1877. The newspaper started out as a four-page, seven-column paper published weekly on Wednesdays. Its politics were considered to be independent Republican, and dedicated to giving its readers "a weekly summary of news, some good literary matter, spicy articles from many sources, market reports, and as much local matter as we can manage to obtain concerning affairs in our midst."

J.S. Whiton learned his trade in Ohio as a compositor, printer and editor. He worked at several other papers in Wisconsin, Missouri, and New York before moving to Minnesota in June of 1855 as one of the early settlers of Winona County. By 1863 he accepted a position at the Winona Republican, where he served several years as foreman and then was promoted to associate editor. Because of poor health, Whiton moved west to Swift County, Minnesota in 1871 to farm. In the fall of 1876 he moved back, this time to St. Charles, and founded the St. Charles Union. J. S. Whiton’s Union had a high standard in both the printing and the editorial aspects of the paper.

St. Charles, Minnesota was founded in 1854 along the Whitewater River in the center of a rich agricultural district on the western edge of Winona County. It is about 28 miles west of the city of Winona. In February 1864 the Winona & St. Peter Railroad Company completed its track between St. Charles and Winona. This route and another run by the Chicago Great Western Railroad drew considerable trade into St. Charles from Olmsted County as well as Winona County. The city thrived and was incorporated on February 28, 1870.

Briefly from May 11, 1877 to the end of September 1879, Walter G. Ackerman was Whiton’s associate at the paper. Then Whiton continued the publication alone until July, 1889 when his son, J. (Joseph) Eben Whiton, acquired half interest in the paper. The firm name became J.S. Whiton and Son. They worked together until the death of the elder Whiton on April 11, 1893 at 68 years old.

J. Eben Whiton’s stated goal as publisher was to devote himself to the advancement of St. Charles in particular and Winona County in general. Politically, the Union remained independent Republican. In the January 4, 1895 issue, when the Union was beginning the 19th year of its existence, there was good news about the number of paying subscriptions. Over 100 new names had been added to the subscription list, even though some subscribers were paying in pumpkins, rutabagas, potatoes, and pole wood. J.E. Whiton continued publishing the Union through December 30, 1909 when new editor Arthur L. Buzzell took over. Buzzell eventually sold the newspaper to L. A. Warming on February 1, 1912.

L. A. Warming was from Tyler, Minnesota in the western part of the state. He was described as an industrious young man with great ability as a printer. He moved to St. Charles as a newcomer when buying the Union and stated to his readers that, "politically we shall stand unswervingly for the interest of the common people—the masses, both regarding state and national problems." Seven and a half years later, on September 5, 1919, the St. Charles Union combined with the Lewiston Free Press to create a new newspaper, the Winona County Union-Free Press.


Curtiss-Wedge, Franklyn, comp. History of Winona County Minnesota. Chicago: H.C. Cooper, Jr. & Co., 1913.

Curtiss-Wedge, Franklyn, comp. History of Winona and Olmsted Counties. Chicago: H.H. Hill and Company, Publishers, 1883.

"To the Public", St. Charles Union, January 3, 1877, p. 2.

"Obituary", St. Charles Union, April 14, 1893, p. 3.

"The Union", St. Charles Union, January 4, 1895, p. 2.

"History of St. Charles."