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The St. Joseph Observer began publication in 1906 under the ownership of Charles Fremont Cochran and Frank Freytag. Later that same year, Cochran died and Freytag assumed control of the paper. The eight-page paper was Democratic in politics and covered developments in St. Joseph, Buchanan County, and Kansas City, as well as major state news items and national politics. One frequently published column, “News from all over Imperial Missouri,” was described as “Interesting happenings which have taken place in the greatest state of the union; the product of the scissors, the pen and a little actual labor.” The paper also frequently devoted attention to local area markets and “doings in society” and printed serialized literature and excerpts from other Missouri papers and national publications such as the Christian Science Monitor.

Frank Freytag’s editorial columns often featured colorful, direct language, admonishing readers to be more hard-working or pragmatic, particularly during World War I. An editorial advocating eating soup as a solution to wartime meat shortages was titled “Oh Soup! You Panacea.” Freytag often questioned the credibility of the St. Joseph News-Press: “Don’t you believe, Democrats, that it is about time for you to do your own thinking and not allow the Republican News-Press to do it for you?” The rivalry with the St. Joseph News-Press typically surfaced around the time of local and state elections. The Observer offered humorous brief opinion articles alongside more serious editorials, such as this 1916 quip revealing opposition to suffrage for women: “It is too much to expect that [this] winter will be thoroughly patriotic. Well, the women [suffragists] will not picket the White House anymore.” Freytag often strongly endorsed Democratic candidates for office and consistently defended President Woodrow Wilson and his policies.

Faced with stiff competition from rising local papers and the increasing circulation of Kansas City papers in St. Joseph, the Observer ceased publication in 1932.

Provided by: State Historical Society of Missouri; Columbia, MO