Harry and Rosamond O'Brien
Harry O'Brien and his wife Rosamond Thoe were born and raised in Devils Lake, the children of early North Dakota settlers. Harry attended the Agricultural College in Fargo until World War I intervened. He served with the American Expeditionary Force in France for about two years. Afterward, in the early 1920s, Harry and Rosamond married.
Harry took advantage of the G.I. Bill and attended the Dunwoody Institute in Minneapolis, where he studied journalism. He tried to join the Devils Lake World, but declined when told he’d have to join a Union. Instead, he worked for the Bottineau Courant. In the meantime, Rosamond learned how to operate the Linotype. Despite her skill, the paper’s manager wouldn’t pay her, so Harry quit, and the two bought the Walsh County Press in Park River.
On their first printing, Harry issued a note to reassure their readers. “When a newspaper changes management,” he wrote, “its readers usually are curious as to whether the policy of the paper will change. Politically, the Press will remain much the same…this paper, however, will in no sense be a political organ. Neither the Republican or the Democrats, the League of the IVA, the Socialists or Soviet has any strings on the Press. We will express our views on political matters from time to time in this column just as we will comment on other subjects of interest to people of this locality but we do not propose to harp on politics week after week. The primary object of the Press…will be to forward the welfare of the community in which it is located.”
However, Harry O’Brien was interested in politics. In 1934, he announced his candidacy for state representative. The Pierce County Tribune reported on O’Brien’s announcement, along with another big decision he had already made – that he "positively would refuse to kiss babies –except upon request."
O'Brien was elected to the North Dakota House, and later moved to the Senate. He served until 1952, and selected Rosamond to succeed him. She served until 1960. Likewise, after his death, Rosamond took over his portion of the work and became the sole editor and publisher of the Walsh County Press. She also taught journalism at Walsh County High School, assisted with the publication of the school newspaper, was a member of the North Dakota Press Women, and was president of the Federation of Women's Clubs.
The O’Briens were truly a North Dakota power couple.
Dakota Datebook written by Sarah Walker
North Dakota Blue Book - 1942, p36
North Dakota Blue Book - 1954, p14
Walsh County Press, June 5, 1930
Park River, ND 1884-1984
Pierce County Tribune, April 26, 1934