The Library of Congress > Chronicling America > The pioneer express.

Search America's historic newspaper pages from 1770-1963 or use the U.S. Newspaper Directory to find information about American newspapers published between 1690-present. Chronicling America is sponsored jointly by the National Endowment for the Humanities external link and the Library of Congress. Learn more

The pioneer express. [volume] : (Pembina, Dakota [N.D.]) 1883-1928
Place of publication:
Pembina, Dakota [N.D.]
Geographic coverage:
  • Pembina, Pembina, North Dakota  |  View more titles from this: City County, State
R.H. Young
Dates of publication:
  • Ceased in Dec. 1928.
  • Vol. 4 [i.e. 3], no. 38 (Apr. 20, 1883)-
  • English
  • North Dakota--Pembina.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01250619
  • Pembina (N.D.)--Newspapers.
  • "Official paper of the city of Pembina."
  • 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 North Dakota.
  • Special North Dakota supplement published Dec. 27, 1895.
sn 88076741
Preceding Titles:
Succeeding Titles:
Related Links:
View complete holdings information
First Issue Last Issue

The pioneer express. [volume] April 20, 1883 , Image 1


Calendar View

All front pages

First Issue  |  Last Issue

The Pioneer Express

The premier issue of the Pioneer Express of Pembina, Dakota Territory, dated April 20, 1883, carried congratulations from newspapers on both sides of the Dakota-Manitoba border. Previously, Pembina was served by two weeklies. Prince Albert Gatchell and Mark A. Brown produced the Pembina Pioneer on a Washington hand press beginning in 1879; they claimed it was the first paper published in northern Dakota Territory, and the second in what would become North Dakota. Robert H. Young's Northern Express started in Drayton in 1881, but would relocate to Pembina one year later. Young bought out Gatchell and christened the combined paper the Pioneer Express. At its birth, the Express boasted a circulation larger than any other weekly in northern Dakota, and described its style as "newsy without being trashy, readable without being sensational, instructive without being dull." In October 1883, it had expanded its coverage to Pembina, Cavalier, and Rolette counties. By January 1884, the Pioneer Express claimed over 1,000 subscribers in Pembina County, and regularly published news from Walhalla, Bathgate, Drayton, and Cavalier, as well as international coverage from Emerson, Manitoba.

A double edition from May 8, 1885, described the history of Pembina County and city and profiled many of the area's businesses and prominent citizens. Flattering descriptions lauded Dakota Territory's agricultural output and educational institutions and its displays at the New Orleans World's Fair, likely in an attempt to boost settlement.

In 1886 or 1887, Frank A. Wardwell and Gunder G. Thompson took over the publication of the Pioneer Express. Under their leadership, the paper included opinion pieces on prohibition, the organization of new counties, as well as the admission of the two Dakotas as states in 1889, the celebration of which garnered a solitary paragraph on the second page of the November 8issue. The Express also took on a Republican flavor during their tenure, something which remained until the paper's end. Many articles from the 1920s were critical of the remnants of the populist Nonpartisan League (NPL), and an ongoing battle with the NPL-friendly Cavalier Chronicle pitted the two papers against each other for recognition as official county newspaper during several elections.

Thompson, who started with the Pioneer Express as a foreman in 1883 would remain as editor and publisher until nearly the end, performing the work solo after buying out Wardwell in 1923. In a retrospective article from that year, Thompson wrote that at age 65, he was the oldest newspaper publisher in North Dakota still in continuous service, second only to William McKean of the Sanborn Enterprise. The 1920s saw several other items of note for the Express, as a new $4,300 Intertype machine was installed, and it stepped up to help a cross-border colleague after the office of Manitoba's Emerson Journal burned--the fourth time the Pioneer Express provided this service. Thompson enjoyed a 15-month vacation from the Express between June 1927 and October 1928, while Ivan H. Munro leased and edited the paper. Thompson returned briefly to led the Pioneer Express until its demise on December 14, 1928.

Provided by: State Historical Society of North Dakota