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Pioneer Journal is Wadena County's Oldest Business Institution --EMDASH-- Part One

Lina Belar, Wadena County Historical Society

In 1927, the Pioneer Journal celebrated its 50th anniversary with a special edition stating that this newspaper was the county's oldest organized business institution. Few newspapers may boast of a more distinguished family tree.

In 1887, when it was first established, the Pioneer Journal was known as the Northern Pacific Farmer. J.E. Hall, one of the Hall Brothers who owned the Fargo Argus established the Northern Pacific Farmer in Wadena. Prior to that, P.A. Gatchel had started a newspaper called the Wadena County Tribune. However, being a real estate operator, Mr. Gatchel's newspaper was more of a land journal than a country weekly. It was printed in Brainerd and finally the owner, concluding that the new village of Verndale had brighter prospects than Wadena, moved his Wadena County Tribune to Verndale.

The Northern Pacific Farmer continued to be edited by Mr. Hall for several years. In 1880, Whitney and Whipple bought the paper from Mr. Hall. Mr. Whipple retired from the business after a year or two and in 1883, Col. Whitney was editor and owner alone for a few months. He later sold the paper to A.H. Bereman who ran it for four years until his death in 1897. Mr. Bereman was 28 years old when tuberculosis cut short his budding career. He had previously worked as a printer for Col. Whitney.

J.E. Reynolds became the next owner of the paper and he changed its name to the Wadena County Pioneer. Under his ownership the Pioneer became a newspaper of much influence. He later became one of Minnesota's greatest and most prominent editors. Mr. Reynolds conducted the paper until 1891 when he sold it to C.C. Eastman. For 20 years, Mr. Eastman edited the paper with great success and ability. He absorbed the Wadena Journal and then changed the name of the paper to the Wadena Pioneer Journal.

Mr. Eastman died in the spring of 1911 and in August of that year his widow disposed of the paper to W.E. Verity. Mr. Verity died in June, 1925 and his widow disposed of the paper to Harold Knutson who edited the 50th anniversary edition.

From the Fiftieth Anniversary Edition of the Wadena Pioneer Journal, December 15, 1927. Compiled by Robert C. Zosel. Lina Belar is the interim executive director of the Wadena County Historical Society.