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The Avant Courier
First published on September 13, 1871, by Joseph Wright, a veteran of the Confederate army and a staunch Democrat, the 10-page, four-column weekly, promoted Bozeman’s agricultural potential from the outset. Wright, an experienced newspaperman, came to the Courier from the gold mining town of Virginia City, where he published the Montanian.
Bozeman had emerged along the Bozeman Trail (connecting St. Louis to the goldfields in southwestern Montana) in 1864 because of its agricultural potential and its proximity to Fort Ellis, built to defend white settlers from the Sioux. The front page of the Courier featured national and regional news, while at the same time providing regular updates on interactions between the army and the Indians. Promoting the agricultural potential of the Gallatin Valley remained an important focus of the Courier, along with informing its readers of territorial news. Wright chose a name for his newspaper literally translated, “a forerunner or to herald,” or as he proclaimed in the inaugural issue, “Vigor, power, and energy are all implied in the name of our paper.” While it would be 10 years before the Northern Pacific Railroad arrived in Bozeman, the Courier documented the railroad’s progress from the beginning. Although the paper ceased publication in 1872, succeeding versions of the Courier, beginning in 1889, continued well into the 20th century.
Provided by: Montana Historical Society; Helena, MT