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Entertaining the reader and selling newspapers in 1885

Great Stories of the Great Plains There might have been a bit of a feud between The Jamestown Alert and The Fargo Argus back in 1885.Or not, the idea of a feud might have just been a way to create the illusion of a little controversy and sell a f...

Great Stories of the Great Plains

There might have been a bit of a feud between The Jamestown Alert and The Fargo Argus back in 1885.
Or not, the idea of a feud might have just been a way to create the illusion of a little controversy and sell a few more newspapers.
The Argus was one of the major papers in Fargo and kept a representative in Jamestown who sold subscriptions and reported on the happenings here in Jamestown. Jamestown was growing by leaps and bounds, and I would assume that representative was kept pretty busy.
The two papers exchanged barbs after an October incident where a drunk railroad worker fell down the office stairs in Jamestown.
A writer at the Alert noted that the doctors who examined the railroad worker came to the conclusion the fall would have killed the man if he had not been drunk.
The article in The Fargo Argus said the Alert had it all wrong because if the man hadn’t been drunk he wouldn’t have fallen down the stairs.
To me, it seems like one of those cases where both points of view are true.
Things were a little nastier when it seems The Fargo Argus published an article saying the butchers of Jamestown were selling diseased meats. This actually resulted in an investigation by the North Dakota Department of Health which didn’t find any problems.
The Jamestown Alert reported that the whole incident was probably the result of a misprint in The Fargo Argus.
“Instead of diseased meats they probably meant deceased meats,” wrote the Alert.
There are indications in the old newspapers that the staffs of the Alert and Argus were on friendly terms.
A number of brief articles provided readers of The Jamestown Alert with information on the social visits and travels of any of the Argus ownership and staff whenever their paths came through Jamestown.
But there were still barbs exchanged on a fairly regular basis. In Fact, the Argus is mentioned in about half of the weekly editions of the Alert during 1885.
In November, the Argus wrote about a Jamestown city councilman’s involvement in a planned roller rink that may have been a conflict of interest.
The Jamestown Alert said it would back a possible move by the City Council to ban the Argus from Jamestown. The City Council took no action on banning any newspapers from the city.
Not sure that would be legal or even constitutional, but it was front page news in 1885.
If it was a real feud, it ended in a couple of years.
W.R. Kellogg, the Jamestown representative of The Fargo Argus, bought The Jamestown Alert sometime before 1887 and took over its operations.
Author Keith Norman can be reached at Keith@KeithNormanBooks.com

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