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Title:
The Circle banner. [volume] : (Circle, Mont.) 1914-1939
Place of publication:
Circle, Mont.
Geographic coverage:
  • Circle, McCone, Montana  |  View more titles from this: City County, State
Publisher:
B.M. Larson
Dates of publication:
1914-1939
Description:
  • Vol. 1, no. 1 (Nov. 27, 1914)-v. 26, no. 8 (Dec. 15, 1939).
Frequency:
Weekly
Language:
  • English
Notes:
  • "Official paper of McCone County," Apr. 1919-Dec. 1924, May 1925-Apr. 1926, May 1927-Sept. 1932, Dec. 1936-Dec. 1937, Dec. 1938-Dec. 1939.
  • Absorbed: Brockway bulletin (non-extant) (Oct. 29, 1920).
LCCN:
sn 85053024
OCLC:
11616424
Preceding Titles:
Succeeding Titles:
Holdings:
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The Circle banner. [volume] November 27, 1914 , Image 1

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The Circle Banner and Circle Banner

Ben M. Larson first published The Circle Banner on November 27, 1914, in Circle, Montana. Larson hailed from Bagley, Minnesota. There he learned the printer's trade as "printer's devil" for Fred S. Kalberg's Clearwater Crystal. In 1913, Kalberg headed to eastern Montana and decided to establish the Redwater Valley Pioneer in Circle. Kalberg hired Larson to set up and produce the Pioneer while he closed out his newspaper in Minnesota. In late 1914, Larson began his own newspaper. He quit the Pioneer and bought printing equipment from a recently closed Wolf Point paper. Publication of the Circle Banner began soon after in its own newly constructed building. In his first editorial, Larson promised "... we shall at all times try to do our very best to give everyone a square deal and help boost for the Redwater Valley and above all--Circle."

The eight-page, six-column weekly focused on Circle's growth in its early years, printing headlines such as "Circle Gets Feed Mill" and "Miller Building Law Office." News concerning Circle and surrounding communities such as Brockway often appeared on the front page. From page two forward, state, national, and international news appeared beside other ready print. The editorial space and masthead shared the last page with small local items, miscellany, and additional national news.

A blind optimism for Circle's future characterized the paper's outlook in its early years. This enthusiasm was only slightly dampened by war news once the United States entered the First World War.

Defaulting loans and decreased demand for wheat were part of an agricultural depression in the 1920s. Farmers faced bankruptcy long before the stock market crashed in 1929. However, the Circle Banner remained cheerful, only briefly addressing the situation. The front page of the July 27, 1923 issue of the Banner carried a national article titled "Wheat Price Result of Plot." The article was a reprint of a public letter written by North Dakota Senator Edwin F. Ladd, in which he claimed the fall in wheat prices was due to grain speculators reacting against recent Congressional grain exchange regulations.

The Banner's optimism and business savvy may have helped it survive the wheat crisis and the Great Depression. Though Circle's growth slowed during that time, the community survived as the seat of McCone County, and the Banner survived by absorbing multiple newspapers between 1920 and 1939. The first newspapers to be absorbed were the McCone County Pioneer and the Brockway Bulletin in 1920. (No issues of the Bulletin are known to exist.) In 1927, the Banner absorbed the McCone County News and added the McCone County Sentinel in 1939. With the last acquisition, the paper changed its name to the Circle Banner and McCone County Sentinel until 1953, when it became the Circle Banner.

Editor Ben Larson was a dedicated Republican and unafraid to state his opinion on any political matter. His paper, especially his editorials, reflected this. Larson claimed political superiority over the Pioneer in a November 17, 1916 editorial, writing, "We will leave it to the public as to which of the two local papers is the real democratic paper. To us it seems as if the Pioneer has got an Elephant back with a Donkey front."

Larson remained editor and publisher of the Banner until his retirement in 1969. His tenure with the paper may be the longest in Montana newspaper history.

Provided by: Montana Historical Society; Helena, MT