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Vernon County censor. [volume] : (Viroqua, Wis.) 1865-1955
Alternative Titles:
  • Censor
Place of publication:
Viroqua, Wis.
Geographic coverage:
  • Viroqua, Vernon, Wisconsin  |  View more titles from this: City County, State
[publisher not identified]
Dates of publication:
  • Vol. 10, no. 34 (Aug. 23, 1865)-v. 99, no. 44 (Nov. 3, 1955).
  • English
  • Viroqua (Wis.)--Newspapers.
  • Wisconsin--Viroqua.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01234647
  • Archived issues are available in digital format from the Library of Congress Chronicling America online collection.
  • Available on microfilm from The State Historical Society of Wisconsin.
  • Editors: D.B. Priest, Aug. 23, 1865-May 12, 1869; W. Nelson, May 19, 1869-April 28, 1875; H. Casson, Jan. 17, 1877-Oct. 21, 1885; O.G. Munson, Oct. 28, 1885-Jan. 7, 1920; H.E. Goldsmith, Dec. 21, 1921-June 29, 1950; G.A. & M.S. Hough, July 6, 1950-Nov. 3, 1955.
  • Publisher varies.
  • Supplements accompany some issues.
sn 85040451
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Succeeding Titles:
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Vernon County censor. [volume] January 5, 1898 , Image 1


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Vernon County Censor

The Vernon County Censor first appeared on August 23, 1865 in Viroqua, Wisconsin. Jeremiah McLain Rusk, William Nelson, and Daniel B. Priest had just bought its predecessor, the North Western Times (1858-1865),from Joseph A. Somerby, and changed its title. The Censor was "designated in early years of its existence as the official publication of the city of Viroqua as well as all of Vernon County."

The Vernon County area had been inhabited by the Ho-Chunk for thousands of years. Early European settlers arrived in 1844 and built lumber mills on the Kickapoo River. Viroqua, the county seat, flourished agriculturally, producing mainly wheat, oats, corn, and later tobacco. It was also the site of much early political activism. Before and after the Civil War, the Viroqua area became home to communities of formerly enslaved people.

The three owners of the newspaper had strong ties to Wisconsin. Rusk had served in the Union Army during the Civil War, and he soon left the Censor as he launched his political career. He was elected Representative for the Wisconsin 6th Congressional District, and then served as the 15th Governor of Wisconsin. Nelson had also served during the Civil War and was an experienced newspaperman, having previously worked at the Monroe Sentinel. He would later become president of the Village of Viroqua and be elected to the State Senate. Priest served as District Attorney for Vernon County and in the State Assembly in the 1860s.

As the tobacco crop was reaching its golden age in the county at the turn of the century, much of the Censor focused on the tobacco industry, and the paper included weekly excerpts from the Egerton's Wisconsin Tobacco Reporter. Perhaps the most significant moment in Wisconsin tobacco farming history recorded in the Censor was the birth of the Northern Wisconsin Tobacco Co-op Pool, one of the first tobacco marketing cooperatives in the nation. The co-op was established in Viroqua as an effort to stabilize crop prices after the market crashed in late 1921. The short lived organization was controversial, and was first discussed in the Censor on April 19, 1922.

The Censor started as a four-page weekly publication focused on local news from Viroqua as well as news from surrounding towns such as Clinton, Sterling, Hillsboro, Christiana, Whitestown, Hamburg, and Genoa. In early 1900, the paper doubled in size. Social notes and county happenings remained front page matter, but an increase in advertisements, national, and international news filled many of the additional pages. The longest serving editor and eventual proprietor of the Censor was Oliver G. Munson, who had published the Republican and Observer for 10 years before taking over the Censor in 1885. Munson, like the earlier owners of the paper, also held a variety of political offices. In 1955, the Censor merged with the Vernon County Broadcaster to form the Vernon County Broadcaster and Vernon County Censor.

Provided by: Wisconsin Historical Society