Shopping local mattered in 1882

Leaders called for people to purchase locally.

JSSP Keith Norman Column Sig

Some things don’t change in a community.

In 1882, 138 years ago, there was a call from community leaders for people to purchase items locally to promote local business.

“The more goods our merchants sell the more clerks they employ,” said a Dec. 22, 1882, article of The Jamestown Alert. “The more demand upon our manufactures the more help they employ.”

The editors of the 1882 Jamestown Alert used the local cigar factory as an example of the buy local concept.

The newspaper estimated the local cigar factory could employ five more people if all the smokes sold in Jamestown were locally rolled.


I would guess cigars were a more common Christmas gift in 1882 than today.

Jamestown was changing and growing in 1882. City leaders could anticipate growth when the Northern Pacific Railroad completed its line and became transcontinental in 1883. That event would make Jamestown a major stop on a transcontinental route that connected the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic.

That is a step up from a stop on a line that would have dead-ended somewhere to the west which is what Jamestown had been for 10 years from 1873 to 1883.

In Jamestown, community leaders were preparing a city charter for consideration by the Dakota Territorial legislature that winter. It was a transition from a village government to the city type of government we know today.

And a group of local businessmen was working on creating a street railway to provide streetcars to move people around the growing town.

Initial plans called for a streetcar line down what was called Fifth Avenue back then, now called First Avenue or Main, that would connect the railroad depot to the new courthouse.

Future plans included connections all the way out to what is now called the North Dakota State Hospital.

There was also hope that the federal government would locate a land office in Jamestown. Homesteaders had to file their paperwork at a land office. Having a land office in Jamestown would make it a destination for some of the newest settlers in the region.


While there is still a drive for people to buy local and Jamestown is now a city rather than a village, many of the other factors never materialized.

Streetcars never navigated the streets and avenues of Jamestown and the federal government never put a land office in Jamestown.

And you are really going to have a tough time finding a Jamestown-made cigar to give as a Christmas gift this year.

Author Keith Norman can be reached at .

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