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The Bad Lands cow boy. [volume] : (Little Missouri, Dakota [i.e. N.D.]) 1884-1886
Alternative Titles:
  • Badlands cowboy
Place of publication:
Little Missouri, Dakota [i.e. N.D.]
Geographic coverage:
  • Little Missouri, Billings, North Dakota  |  View more titles from this: City County, State
  • Medora, Billings, North Dakota  |  View more titles from this: City County, State
A.T. Packard
Dates of publication:
  • Vol. 1, no. 1 (Feb. 7, 1884)-v.3, no. 45 (Dec. 23, 1886).
  • English
  • Badlands (N.D.)--Newspapers.
  • Medora (N.D.)--Newspapers.
  • North Dakota--Badlands.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01254881
  • North Dakota--Medora.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01230359
  • Archived issues are available in digital format from the Library of Congress Chronicling America online collection.
  • Published in Medora, N.D., Nov. 13, 1885-Dec. 23, 1886.
sn 84024777
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The Bad Lands cow boy. [volume] February 7, 1884 , Image 1


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The Bad Lands Cow Boy

Arthur T. Packard had two goals upon starting the Bad Lands Cow Boy in Little Missouri, Dakota Territory (later North Dakota), on February 7, 1884: to be "the best cattle paper in the Northwest," and "to make some almighty dollars." In selecting the Republican weekly's name, Packard desired to highlight the "honest, honorable, and capable young men," working as cowboys in the Dakota Badlands." At that time, cowboys were not revered as heroic symbols of Americana, but were considered as rather lawless desperados. Packard hoped christening his publication the Bad Lands Cow Boy would rehabilitate the word cowboy and sell papers.

Originally from a Michigan newspaper family, Packard had first cut his teeth on his father's La Porte (Indiana) Chronicle before heading west to be managing editor of the Bismarck Tribune. A short hop across the Missouri River had him working for the Mandan Pioneer. There Packard met the paper's major stockholder and French nobleman the Marquis de Mores. Keen on making money, the Marquis in meat packing, and Packard in publishing, the two men moved to the Little Missouri/Medora area in Billings County. For the price of a weekly advertisement for the Marquis' Northern Pacific Refrigerator Car Company, the rent on Packard's newspaper office was paid. In the premier issue of the Cow Boy, Packard promised that he would not be beholden to the Marquis or to any man in his reporting. Still, the Marquis saw great value in Packard, appointing him president of the Medora Stage and Forwarding Company and his land agent. Somehow, the busy young editor also found time to sell Studebaker wagons, serve as Medora's first police chief, and be elected justice of the peace.

The earliest issues of the Bad Lands Cow Boy reflected its male, seasonally employed, and transient readership. Stories on cattle breeding and prices, sports, adventure stories, and scattered gossip from Medora, Belfield, and Dickinson dominated. Enticing advertisements for billiard halls, saloons, and cigars appealed to cowboys and ranchers with money to burn. In late 1884 and 1885, civilization finally arrived in the boomtown of Medora, to which the Cow Boy eventually moved. Articles on the brick plant, school, and Catholic Church dedicated by the town's namesake and the Marquis' wife, became more numerous. A parade of other personalities that gained fame in the West was drawn to the bustling edge of Billings County. The June 19, 1884 issue of the newspaper described visitation by freight agents Sol Star and Seth Bullock, General Philip Sheridan, and Theodore Roosevelt, who was in the area "hunting and playing cowboy."

The future president would inhabit many column inches for the rest of the newspaper's run. The activities of the Little Missouri Stockmen's Association, which Roosevelt would chair, were regularly published, as was his pursuit of boat thieves from his ranch, which spanned two issues. Roosevelt's Maltese Cross cattle brand would appear in the paper from June 1885 until the last issue.

Packard bid farewell to the Bad Lands Cow Boy and Medora in December 1886 when the newspaper office burned, and the boom created by the Marquis' cattle business finally went bust.

Provided by: State Historical Society of North Dakota