St. Cloud Journal

The St. Cloud journal (St. Cloud, Minn.) 1866-1876 Browse the title

After purchasing the St. Cloud Democrat in 1863 from his aunt, the nationally known abolitionist Jane Grey Swisshelm, William Bell Mitchell increased the weekly newspaper’s size to a nine columns and four pages. The Democrat was always a tongue-in-cheek title for the strongly Republican newspaper, and in 1866 Mitchell renamed the newspaper the St. Cloud Journal. Mitchell explains in his introductory editorial on September 13, 1866, "The former title...belied the paper most woefully…and was as inappropriate as a black, piratical flag flying from the mast of an honest merchantman, or a Confederate rag from a Union fort." Published until 1876, the St. Cloud Journal served the Republican party of central Minnesota, bringing the latest national news from federal correspondence and state news from the capitol in St. Paul.

Mitchell was highly qualified to continue in the footsteps of his outspoken aunt. He settled in the city of St. Cloud along the Mississippi in 1857, and in 1858 helped to survey and locate a state road to the city of Breckenridge on the Red River of the North that the Great Northern Railroad paralleled in later years. He began his newspaper career as a compositor for Swisshelm’s abolitionist paper, the St. Cloud Visiter, which was later published as the St. Cloud Democrat and purchased by Mitchell. In the St. Cloud Journal, Mitchell criticized the railroad companies for tracks that were insufficiently laid, advocated for the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson, supported the harshest punishments for American Indians hostile to the U.S. military, and continued to print Swisshelm’s Washington correspondence. He was appointed to St. Cloud’s State Normal school board as residential director in 1887, holding the position until 1901. The school eventually became St. Cloud State University.

With a population of just over two thousand in 1870, St. Cloud, Minnesota, was a bustling thoroughfare, but not large enough to support the multiple newspapers published in the city. In 1876, Mitchell purchased the other Republican newspaper, the St. Cloud Press, and combined it with the Journal as the St. Cloud Journal-Press. In its introductory issue, Mitchell declared "the result will be a stronger paper, and one representing the determination of interests which have been separate and at times antagonistic to unite and co-operate in whatever may be of benefit to St. Cloud and tend toward the development of her natural advantages." The St. Cloud Journal-Press was published alongside St. Cloud’s Democratic newspapers, the St. Cloud Times and St. Cloud’s German-language newspaper Der Nordstern, until the Journal-Press ceased publication in 1918.


Mitchell, William Bell. History of Stearns County. Chicago: H. C. Cooper, Jr., & Co., 1915.

Mitchell, William Bell. "The St. Cloud Journal-Press." St. Cloud Journal-Press, May 25, 1876.

McKenney, Charles R. "To The Public." St. Cloud Press, May 18, 1876.

Mitchell, William Bell. "The Journal." St. Cloud Journal, September 13, 1866.