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First issue of Bismarck Tribune


Today, citizens of North Dakota’s capital are used to receiving their reliable news delivered daily. And they should be used to it; the Bismarck Tribune has been providing news to the people for one hundred and thirty-eight years, with the first issue appearing on this date in 1873. It was the culmination of a dream for editor and founder, Clement A. Lounsberry.

The slogan was “A live paper, newsy and independent.” It cost ten cents per copy and $2.50 for a year’s subscription. The first paper had an article titled, Introduction: “With this issue is commenced the publication of the Bismarck Tribune, the first paper on the Missouri River above Yankton and the first in Dakota on the line of the N.P.R.R. [Northern Pacific Railroad].” It continued, “It is printed on a Daylor Cylinder Press and from an office specially fitted out for the publication of a daily so soon as Bismarck is large enough to sustain one.” At first, the Tribune was a weekly newspaper since there were only "147 buildings in the town including homes and offices and half of those had been erected in the past sixty days."

There was also an article entitled “TownsiteTroubles” that described a legal problem: four different parties claimed to have been first to settle the town site. “There has been trouble and doubt relative to the townsite of Bismarck,” it read, “and because of it, much capital and many people have been kept away, greatly to the detriment of the town.”

Then there was a column that would not meet today’s standards of journalism. It began “Lo, the poor Indian, whose untutored mind teaches him to draw his annuity as regularly as a federal officer his salary.”

And of course, there were advertisements and announcements: Messrs. Keating and Wolf had opened a fruit, vegetable, and fish market; there were twenty-two newly fitted rooms at the Capitol Hotel; the important Cadet Crittenden was visiting; the Reverend Lyon would be preaching on Sunday; and the City Bakery and Restaurant had “a fine lot of pickled pig’s feet and tongues.”

The first issue of the Bismarck Tribune was an important historical event, marking the start of news reporting in the area, but it also gives us tidbits of life in the days long before HDTVs and smart phones … tidbits that help us remember the past and honor our ancestors.

Dakota Datebook written by Leewana Thomas


The Bismarck Tribune, July 11, 1883 North Dakota State Historical Society “Today in History” http://www.bismarcktribune.com/news/opinion/article_7121529a-6237-5604-908e-141a9fdba222.h