The news marches on: a history of Wadena newspapers

In 1927, as a subscriber promotion, a needle book, a leather book of four panels, containing 156 needles, was offered to any new subscriber or any renewal.

In 1927, as a subscriber promotion, a needle book, a leather book of four panels, containing 156 needles, was offered to any new subscriber or any renewal.

Also that year with the issuance of the 50th anniversary edition the paper expanded to eight columns per page. It is interesting to note that every subscriber to the Pioneer Journal received a complimentary copy of the anniversary edition with several thousand extra being printed for sale at 25 cents each. Some time in the early 1950s I purchased five of these for 10 cents each.

Later that year, the paper received a congratulatory letter from the Department of Agriculture for their excellent edition concerning the work of the 4-H boys and girls clubs in Wadena county and their support of the County Extension office.

1927 also saw the beginning of the Empty Stocking Club, the longest running venture of the Pioneer Journal continuing to this day, becoming more successful each year. The purpose to make every boy and girl happy on the natal day of our Lord.

In 1928, the newspaper and Murray's Land Office put up $50 in prize money for an essay contest on "Why I Believe in the Wadena Community." The first prize of $15 was won by Fred Claydon, county clerk of court.


1929 announced that the Wadena Pioneer calendars were ready for distribution. In March the "Fashion and American Legion" number was announced with a considerable portion of the paper devoted to what is fashionable for spring and a brief history of the Legion activities since its inception 10 years ago. Also an automobile number issue was presented because the modern motor car has a conspicuous place in the picture of life as it exists today. It was announced that the Empty Stocking donations totaled $148.52 for 1929.

In 1930, a new venture was the serial story the first series being "The Girl That Came Back" which was so successful that a follow up was the "Mutiny of the Albatross."

In 1931, a new promotion was introduced titled "An Ad readers contest." In this the writer picked an ad from the paper that most appealed to them and wrote a letter of not over fifty words telling why they liked it. The contest to run six weeks with weekly winners with a $1 prize each week. On the average 50-60 readers were responding each week.

In 1932, a cooking school and household appliance exhibit was hosted by the Pioneer Journal and a noted home economics expert from Chicago. This has been continued throughout the years. Also that year a personal shopper, "Betty Lou" became a member of the paper staff and wrote a column titled "Betty Lou Goes Shopping."

In 1934, an Expansion Club program was originated to increase circulation. The contest offered a new Chevrolet as first prize, a Ford as second prize and a beautiful bedroom set as third prize, plus several lesser prizes to the persons generating the most new subscriptions. The contest ended in May with Mrs. James Miller the winner of the Chevrolet, Emil Backholm the winner of the Ford and Mrs. E. R. Koechel of Bertha the furniture winner.

In 1935, George Masters, a former northwest editor of the Minneapolis Journal succeeded Mark Parker who had served as news and advertising director for a number of years.

Near the end of 1936 a modern Duplex press weighing 17 tons was installed. It stated that with this installation the Pioneer Journal now has one of the finest printing plants in the state. This would enable them to print more than 5,000 eight-page papers per hour. It also would, with a minor adjust, be able to print in two colors.

Also in 1936, the Inter County Tab, published by Carroll Kingsley, was absorbed by the Pioneer Journal. Kingsley sold primarily because fire destroyed his plant.


In 1938, a new feature was added. A Poultry Department conducted by Mrs. Frank Benda of Aldrich. Later that year the paper tried an experiment. They issued a regular-sized paper on Tuesday and a tabloid size on Friday, each with the same news and advertising to determine which size the public wanted, tabloids rapidly becoming popular. However, readers overwhelmingly voted to retain the regular size. The vote showed 167 for the regular size and 155 for the tab size. They also presented the cooking film "Star In My Kitchen" at the newly remodeled Cozy Theatre.

In 1940, it was noted that the entire shop staff of the Pioneer Journal had to register for the draft. This included Ray Zuehlke, shop foreman, Odell Olson, Leslie Fox, Sterling Knutson and Collins Hoyt. Editor George Masters did not have to register as he had served in the AEF in World War I.

In 1941, the Journal was commended by area newspapers for the splendid 24-page building and development issue it put out. Also it was announced that the Pioneer Journal would start accepting donations for the USO (United Service Organization).

In 1942, Art Conaway became the editor succeeding George Masters. He was the editor until his death in 1944 and was succeeded by Leslie Fox.

I always had a soft spot in my heart for Les. He and I corresponded all the time that I was in the service in World War II. I always remember he had envelopes with a return of "Here Tis' a Little Bull" with a bull's picture.

There is much more to tell about our newspaper but it will have to come in a future article.

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