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Three Andrists and a Newspaper


Tomorrow – and the next day, too – will be the birthdays of Calvin Andrist, who was born in Ada, MN, in 1888 – or maybe 1887. His son, John, says, “Dad always claimed two birth dates. After celebrating on April 10 for half a century, he had reason to request an official birth certificate. That showed his birth as April 9, 1887. He refused to give up April 10 and declared henceforth and forevermore he would have a two-day birthday celebration.”

Calvin’s family moved to a Canadian homestead north of Crosby, but his stepmother wasn’t fond of him, so he set out on foot, at age 16, to make his fortune in the town of Portal some 25 miles away. With only an 8th grade education, his career choices were limited, at best. John says, “Farm work was plentiful in the labor intensive business of farming in those days, but when fall came there was little to sustain him. So he was preparing to distribute Canadian booze to customers in North Dakota, which was still a dry state at the turn of the century.”

It was in that fall of 1907 that a pioneer newspaper publisher offered Andrist a job as a printer’s devil at the Kermit News in Kermit, ND. The publisher promised him room and board in exchange for his work, just to tide him over until spring. Andrist chose the newspaper over bootlegging, and it led him far beyond the following spring. The following year, he went to work for the Larson Leader in Larson.

When the building was destroyed in a fire, he moved to Ambrose to work for the Ambrose Tribune and then the Ambrose Newsman.

In 1912, Steve says, his grandfather finally got a chance to run his own newspaper when a group of merchants in Noonan bought out the interest of an alcoholic publisher of the Noonan Miner. They offered the business to Cal, virtually for nothing, if he’d take it over. He did. And he also went on to purchase the Divide County Journal in Crosby with a partner, Nansen B. Henderson, who he bought out a few years later.

During Calvin’s tenure, about 8 other county newspapers folded, leaving The Divide County Journal the county’s sole surviving newspaper. Calvin served as President of the ND Press Assn. and was inducted into the ND Newspaper Hall of Fame in 1978.

Meanwhile, Andrist’s son, John, began working for him in 1950, and after Calvin retired in 1958, John took over, and then bought, the paper. John shortened the name to The Journal in the 1970s, because the paper’s territory now extended beyond the boundaries of Divide County.

John went to his first ND Newspaper Association meeting in 1947 when still in high school; he moved up from there and is the only North Dakotan to have ever served as president at the national level. He’s also the only newspaper professional to be inducted into the ND Newspaper Hall of Fame while still living. In more recent years, John has also served in the State Senate.

In the fall of 2000, John was given the James O. Amos Award, a national honor given to individuals who have provided distinguished service in the area of community newspapers. The award was established in 1938 for General James Amos, a pioneer journalist who owned the Sidney County Democrat; like The Journal, the Sidney paper is still in the Amos family.

That brings us to John’s son, Steve, who is the third generation of Andrists to own and operate The Journal. During the 1980s, Steve worked for the Bismarck Tribune, and for papers in Winona and Rochester, MN. Then, in 1991, he went back to Crosby to take over his family legacy. Steve has been keeping the family tradition alive and well and has since purchased a second paper, The Tioga Tribune. You can say happy birthday to him in 16 days...

Source: John Andrist and http://www.crosbynd.com/journal/history.htm

Dakota Datebook written by Merry Helm