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About Custer chronicle. [volume] (Custer City, Black Hills, D.T. [S.D.]) 1880-1890
Custer City, Black Hills, D.T. [S.D.] (1880-1890)
- Custer chronicle. [volume] : (Custer City, Black Hills, D.T. [S.D.]) 1880-1890
- Place of publication:
- Custer City, Black Hills, D.T. [S.D.]
- Geographic coverage:
- Clark & Kubler
- Dates of publication:
- Vol. 1, no. 1 (Sept. 11, 1880)-v. 10, no. 22 (Jan. 25, 1890).
- Custer (S.D.)--Newspapers.
- Custer County (S.D.)--Newspapers.
- South Dakota--Custer County.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01212330
- South Dakota--Custer.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01224948
- Available on microfilm from: State Archives, South Dakota State Historical Society.
- sn 97065762
- Preceding Titles:
- Succeeding Titles:
- View complete holdings information
- First Issue Last Issue
Custer Chronicle and Custer Weekly Chronicle
On December 3, 1879, in Custer City (aka Custer), Dakota Territory, a paper known as the News began at the hands of A. W. Merrick and a partner named Burke. In the spring of 1880, Joseph Kubler and Avery D. Clark purchased the paper from Merrick and began publishing it each Saturday under the Custer Chronicle masthead. The first issue, dated September 11, 1880, was a six-column, four-page paper featuring articles about the benefits of living in Custer. The subscription cost for one year was $4.00, for six months was $2.50, and for three months was $1.25.
Joseph Kubler had come to America from Germany as a 17-year-old orphan in 1871. He began his newspaper apprenticeship with W. A. Laughlin and Merrick in Denver and traveled with them to Custer in 1876 to start the first newspaper there. The first issue of the Black Hills Weekly Pioneer was a half-page sheet published in May, but one month later, the gold discovery in Deadwood Gulch in the northern section of the Black Hills (aka the Hills) looked to be a more lucrative setting for the three newspapermen. Their abrupt move to Deadwood to continue publishing The Black Hills Weekly Pioneer left Custer without a paper.
Located in the southern Black Hills, Custer, the area's pioneer city, was organized in 1875. It had spent several tumultuous years as a Wild West location for miners, outlaws, and other disreputable characters. When General George Armstrong Custer's 1874 military expedition explored the area, one of his men, Horace R. Ross, discovered a small amount of gold at French Creek near Custer. This news quickly triggered an influx of miners and other migrants.
Article II of the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie between the U.S. government and the Sioux tribes set aside land that became known as the Great Sioux Reservation. This land was north of Nebraska and west of the Missouri River in what is now South Dakota, and it included the Black Hills. The treaty stated that no party, except those authorized by the treaty, was to "pass over, settle upon, or reside in the territory." To enforce this, the Fort Laramie military unit sent General George Crook to evict all suspected "trespassers" from the Black Hills in 1875. General Crook was sympathetic to the Custer miners, however, and their desire to establish claims. He proclaimed a mass meeting to establish resolutions for area miners: all issues were settled by a popular vote. The original townsite of Stonewall was renamed Custer City and plotted.
By 1879, gold fever had diminished in the Hills, and Kubler returned to Custer from Deadwood to revive plans for a newspaper. He worked closely with Avery Clark, the editor. In the first Custer Chronicle edition, Kubler wrote, "The present prospects of Custer are brighter than ever before and the indications are that from this time on there will be no more complaints of hard times, either from our business men or miners. The growth of Custer City and county is of that sure and solid character which can never meet with a set-back."
The paper focused on Custer and the surrounding areas by offering optimistic details of business opportunities, updates on mining and railroad progress, and other local information. Columns were dedicated to other local settlements; Deadwood's column was titled "Deadwoodits," for instance. Advertising featured various businesses: a hotel, liquor distributor, lumber yard, hardware, jeweler, hairdresser, carriage dealer, blacksmith, bank, surgeon, clothier, surveyor, attorney, bakery, and drug store, as well as grocery stores and restaurants.
In September 1885, Avery Clark left the Chronicle and moved to nearby Buffalo Gap. C. W. Robbins was listed as editor from the December 5, 1885 issue until that of January 23, 1886. No one was cited as editor until March 6, 1886, when Samuel R. Shankland appeared on the masthead. Shankland was one of the original settlers of Custer, one of the original township officials, one of the first city council members, a city attorney, the fourth Custer postmaster, and a resolute believer in Custer's future.
The paper's name changed to the Custer Weekly Chronicle on February 1, 1890. The Chronicle became an eight column, four-page issue, with the annual subscription price dropping to $2.50. Shankland remained as editor until H. R. Hitchcock took over that role on September 5, 1891. The annual subscription price dropped again to $2.00 in February 1893. Shankland returned to the editor position on March 31, 1894, and served in that capacity until June 11, 1898. Kubler continued publication and remained at the paper's helm until 1924.
A note from the January 1886 Rapid City Daily Journal reiterated what Kubler set out to accomplish: "The Custer Chronicle has reached a place among the very best newspapers of Dakota. Its columns are well filled with newsy and interesting matter, well compiled and given to its readers in such a shape as to make the Chronicle a very welcome visitor. Both publisher and editor deserve credit, and the support which the paper receives is well merited."
The paper continues publication today as the Custer County Chronicle.