The Stillwater Messenger, 1861-1874

In the valedictory of A. J. Van Vorhes, written when he sold the Stillwater Messenger plant to Willard S. Whitmore, I find it stated that the first issue of the Messenger appeared September 15th, 1856. The last issue of Messenger No. 1 was volume 12, No. 27, dated March nth, 1868. It was a four-page, seven-column, Republican sheet, and the thirty-second in general course in the Territory. A. J. Van Vorhes was owner and editor. W. M. Easton joined him soon afterward, the firm becoming Van Vorhes and Easton, the former still remaining editor. This business relation continued until September 6th, 1862, when the partnership was dissolved and Van Vorhes again became sole owner and editor.

Later, because of continued absence as quartermaster in the army, Van Vorhes procured the services of A. B. Stickney, now president of the Chicago Great Western Railway, as editor, and his salutatory appears in the issue of May 19th, 1863. A. B. Easton was placed in charge of the mechanical department.

October 1st, 1863, Van Vorhes made a lease of the plant to Stickney and Easton for one year. October 1st, 1864, Stickney retired, and Van Vorhes renewed the lease to Easton for another year. October 3rd, 1865, Van Vorhes resumed control of the Messenger as editor and publisher.

March 11th, 1868, at Volume 12, No. 26, Van Vorhes sold the plant to Willard S. Whitmore, who said he carried the first copy of the Messenger ever printed and that he had been continuously connected with the paper for the preceding four years. This purchase closed the career of the first Messenger. One week thereafter the Stillwater Republican appeared in its place at Volume 1, No. 1. Whitmore gave as a reason that the party was on the eve of an important and exciting campaign, and that a name indicative of Republican principles was desirable.

Whitmore ran the Republican until October 4th, 1870, when he sold it to George K. Shaw of Minneapolis, who continued the Republican to Volume 3, No. 40, December 16th, 1870. when he changed the name back to the Stillwater Messenger, and sent it ahead on a jump to Volume 16, No. 15, as though the Stillwater Republican had never been. It has since been issued as the Stillwater Messenger, and is still going.

I do not like to break the publication record of the Messenger; but I must print facts, or my history will be unreliable. The files conclusively show that the Stillwater Messenger, No. 1, died, and that the Republican was started in its stead. That in turn died, and Stillwater Messenger, No. 2, followed it, the same as the Red Wing Sentinel, No.1, was followed by the Minnesota Gazette, and as that in turn was followed by Sentinel No. 2. Any other procedure would blot out the Republican and Gazette, which had as much right to be named as any of the seventeen newspapers which have gone into that omnivorous absorber, the Pioneer Press. 1

The Minnesota Historical Society is a non-profit educational and cultural institution established in 1849. The Society collects, preserves and tells the story of Minnesota’s past through museum exhibits, libraries and collections, historic sites, educational programs and book publishing. The Minnesota Historical Society is providing newspapers and manuscripts to the Internet Archive to provide access and preserve their content on the web for future generations. This project was funded in FY11 through the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage fund.

Stillwater Messenger Issues Available

Front page of the Stillwater Messenger, vol 5 no 16
Front page of the Stillwater Messenger, vol 5 no 16, 1 Jan 1861

The 135 issues of the Stillwater Messenger placed online by the Minnesota Historical Society comprise of 1 issue per week (multiple issues are present in each film) of a period from 1 Jan 1861 – 4 Dec 1874. There is a gap in the issues here presented, and that is from 11 Mar 1868 – 09 Dec 1870. This is the period of time in which the Stillwater Messenger was published as the Stillwater Republican.

  1. Minnesota Historical Society[]


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