Predictions from 1882

An eastern reporter visits Jamestown in 1882 and expresses some odd opinions on the area.

JSSP Keith Norman Column Sig

Writers from eastern newspapers occasionally passed through Jamestown in the early days. Reporters for The Jamestown Alert usually talked to the correspondents and actively fished for compliments for the area.

E.V. (Eugene Virgil) Smalley was noted as a writer for the New York Tribune when he stopped in Jamestown in 1882. Additional research indicates that Smalley was probably in the employ of the Northern Pacific Railroad at the time.


The NPRR would have been actively promoting the line and the region at the time in preparation for the Golden Spike ceremony planned for that summer.

Smalley was a veteran of the American Civil War and had actually started his career as a newspaper reporter while a Union soldier. He wrote letters to newspapers describing battles. After the war, he worked for Congress and did the same sort of reporting on politics.

When in Jamestown in 1882, he had good things to say about the agricultural land and the prospects of the city.

“If you get the future State Capital,” Smalley said. “It may reach 30,000 by 1900.”

Some of his comments were probably a little different than were the common thoughts of the time.

For example, Smalley was in favor of dividing the territory into two states but he was opposed to the idea of creating a North and South Dakota.

“I don’t like the idea of applying the name Dakota to both divisions,” he was quoted as saying. “... Ohio is a good name, but don’t you think the people of Indiana are better off with that name rather than being called ‘West Ohio?’”

He had an opinion on the James River.


“We have a James River in Virginia,” Smalley said. “Why confuse the people with another of the same name.”

Then he moved on to give his opinion of the name “Jamestown,” although he admitted it was too much in the common use to be changed.

“When you get to be a city, you will wish you weren’t called a town,” he said.

I don’t know, Jamescity doesn’t sound right.

As you can see, pretty much none of Smalley’s predictions came true.

Smalley went on to found and publish an illustrated magazine called the Northwest and is known for authoring the first history of the Republican Party.

He died in 1899 and is buried in St. Paul, Minnesota.

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