© 2024
Prairie Public NewsRoom
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Clement A. Lounsberry


Clement A. Lounsberry was born in 1843 in Indiana. Like many people who gained success as adults, Lounsberry overcame great hardships during his youth, including being orphaned.

Lounsberry was working as a farm laborer when the Civil War broke out, and he soon enlisted with the First Michigan Volunteers. He was wounded and taken prisoner at the First Battle of Bull Run in July of 1861. After a year in the hands of the enemy, he became part of a prisoner exchange and was released.

He promptly received an officer’s commission and was sent back to battle; over the next few years, he sustained three more injuries. He was a Colonel in command of the First Michigan Sharpshooters and the Second Michigan Infantry when he accepted the enemy’s surrender of Petersburg, Virginia.

After the war, Lounsberry moved to Martin County, Minnesota, where he began publishing the Martin County Atlas, but he made the decision to move farther west wherever and whenever the Northern Pacific railway crossed the Missouri River. That eventually took him to Bismarck, and on this date in 1873, his first copy of the Bismarck Tribune rolled off the press.

The Bismarck Tribune reached an early zenith when Lounsberry became the first newsman to report on the death of Custer and 268 cavalrymen at the Little Bighorn.

Lounsberry was a staunch Republican, and when he sold the Tribune in 1884, he was hoping he’d be appointed governor of Dakota Territory. Unfortunately, the position was awarded to a different newspaperman, Gilbert A. Pierce of the Chicago Daily News.

For the next 20 years, Lounsberry had a tough time sustaining success. He worked for a Land Office and published a historical monthly magazine in Fargo, an activity that led him to help organize the North Dakota Historical Society in the 1890s. Ultimately, his history magazines became the basis of his seminal creation, a huge three-volume book called North Dakota: History and People, which first appeared in January 1917.

In 1905, Lounsberry landed a job with the General Land Office in Washington, D. C., and despite his strong ties to North Dakota, he never came back. He died in October 1926 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Dakota Datebook written by Merry Helm

Source: Arlington National Cemetery Website. Clement A. Lounsberry: Colonel, United States Army. Courtesy of Sandy Barnard. http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net/calounsberry.htm