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August 4: Newspaper Editors Welcomed to Williston

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On this date in 1910, visitors were already arriving in Williston for a conference that promised to be big. It was for North Dakota newspaper editors.

Newspapers were prolific in the state back then, with more than three hundred papers around the state. The North Dakota Editorial Association event was expected to attract around 300 men to Williston, with many bringing their families. Some of the editors had published their papers early to accommodate the trip.

The city welcomed the multitude by arranging for cars to pick them up from the train station and take them to free entertainment. Apartments were provided, and field trips were planned to see the experiment station, the town’s irrigation project, and more. A ball was held one night, and a banquet the next. Williston even held a barbeque in the public square. Sam Clark, of the Minot Reporter, served as toastmaster for the events.

In hosting the conference, the city of Williston could show off for the rest of the state and garner extra commerce. The reports written of the convention were good publicity, flattering to Williston and its citizens.

The paper in Barlow, in Foster County, noted: “We believe Williston’s value must be reappraised, and hereafter it will be known as ‘The City of Achievement.’”

The Globe Gazette in Williston noted that the “City of Opportunity” had given “the pen pushers the best time of their lives.”

The Lisbon Free Press reported, “We prophesy a great city at Williston…a city of opportunity, inhabited by opportunists and deserving the success already attained and that which is yet to come.”

“They came, were surprised, … and satisfied,” noted The Williston Graphic, one of several local newspapers publishing there.

Interestingly, the editors coming to Williston were near the birthplace of the earliest known newspaper in North Dakota. The Frontier Scout, published in 1864, was set up at nearby Fort Union.

Today, fewer than 90 newspapers provide coverage around the state. A copy of each is still sent to the State Archives, which has been required by law since 1905.

Dakota Datebook by Sarah Walker


Dakota Datebook is made in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, and funded by Humanities North Dakota, a nonprofit, independent state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the program do not necessarily reflect those of Humanities North Dakota or the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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