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Reporter and farmer. [volume] : (Webster, Day County, Dakota [S.D.]) 188?-1946
Place of publication:
Webster, Day County, Dakota [S.D.]
Geographic coverage:
  • Webster, Day, South Dakota  |  View more titles from this: City County, State
J.C. Adams
Dates of publication:
  • -v. 64, no. 30 (Apr. 4, 1946).
  • English
  • German
  • Dakota Territory--History--Newspapers.
  • Day County (S.D.)--Newspapers.
  • South Dakota--Day County.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01216010
  • South Dakota--Webster.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01224839
  • United States--Dakota Territory.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01228148
  • Webster (S.D.)--Newspapers.
  • Available on microfilm from: State Archives, South Dakota State Historical Society.
  • Description based on: Vol. 3, no. 18 (Jan. 17, 1884).
  • Has supplement published during the Sixth Annual Encampment, 14th Division G. A. R. of South Dakota: The daily reporter.
  • Merged with: Webster journal, to form: Reporter and farmer and the Webster journal.
  • Some German text in 1904-1916 issues.
  • Vol. and issue numbering irregular.
sn 99068116
Preceding Titles:
Succeeding Titles:
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Reporter and farmer. [volume] January 17, 1884 , Image 1


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Reporter and Farmer

James P. Webster moved to Day County, South Dakota, from Pine Island, Minnesota, in 1880 and constructed a claim shanty near a railroad grade, which the Milwaukee Railroad had plotted west from Ortonville, Minnesota. Even before the train depot could be constructed, businessmen looking to found a new town arrived in the spring of 1881, constructing a hotel and hardware store. The first post office opened on June 1, 1881, Edward Ruggles serving as postmaster. By that September the settlement, known as Webster, had attracted a newspaper man, Albert C. Tuttle from Baraboo, Wisconsin. Webster was incorporated as a village in 1885 and then incorporated as Webster City in 1895.

The Reporter and Farmer was the first newspaper published in Day County, beginning on September 15, 1881. In 1882 James C. Adams and his son William visited Webster and purchased the newspaper from Tuttle, who was left in charge until the spring of 1883, when the Adams men returned to Webster with the rest of their family to take over printing. James Adams was a veteran of the Civil War and used his position as editor to promote and record the activities of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) encampments that were held in the Webster area over the years. William Adams took a homestead and published a small newspaper he titled The Dakota Daylight out of a sod shanty in northern Day County at Giles City. The Daylight would move to Britton, South Dakota, after which William moved to join his father as a mechanical assistant printing the Reporter and Farmer.

William bought a half-interest in the Reporter and Farmer in 1891. In 1893 the elder Adams sold his share to Fred W. Harris, who published alongside William Adams until 1896. In the March 23, 1893 issue of the Reporter and Farmer, the departing James Adams wrote that his successors were "young vigorous and brainy, they can and will give you a paper that will surprise you, and that you will be proud of." During the 1895 GAR encampment, Adams and Harris experimented with daily publication, producing the Daily Reporter July 3 through July 5. These issues were irregular in length and covered the happenings of the encampment in detail, including a program of each day's events. The stated purpose of these issues was to "make a lasting record of the incidents and facts of the gathering of the old soldiers."

From the beginning the publishers of the Reporter and Farmer were staunchly Republican, promoting candidates and issues they expected their readers to support. During the 1889 campaign for a temporary state capitol, Adams supported Watertown, as it was the closest geographically to Webster. While local news was of greatest importance to Adams, he also included thorough coverage of the state legislature in Pierre, as well as national news.

On April 30, 1896, John W. Arthur greeted the readers of Webster as Adams's new partner in publishing. A salutatory message promised that although the newspaper would continue "in the ranks of Republicanism," it would offer fair reporters. "Honest convictions will not be given up because of party affiliations and in the battle for good government and economical administration of public affairs, we prefer to go down flying the flag of principle than succeed at the expense of honor and conscience." Arthur was Adams's partner for five years until Fred Denton joined Adams on the publisher's block with no fanfare in the June 6, 1901 issue. Denton and Adams published together until March 26, 1914, when Adams bought out Denton's share and published solo until his death in 1922. Around 1914 the Reporter and Farmer began printing "Happenings in Day County twenty-five years ago" as a retrospective of the town since statehood.

In May of 1904 Adams and Denton expanded the newspaper by several pages, adding more international news to satisfy the recent European immigrants of Day County. "News from Scandinavia" occupied one or two columns every week, and a German-language column also appeared until August of 1916, when growing anti-German sentiment and increased American patriotism made anything with direct ties to Germany unpopular. As World War I built up overseas, the front page of the Reporter and Farmer gradually became more focused on national and international news, local coverage being shifted to the inner pages. As soon as the war ended, however, local happenings and advertisements returned to the front page. An inner section titled "County Correspondence" carried news of other towns and townships in and near Day County, including Lily, Andover, Butler, Farmington, Valley Township, and a category called "Along Route 5." Besides local and state news, the Reporter and Farmer also printed news and reports useful to the local farming community, such as dairy reports, advances in agriculture, and the "South Dakota Farm Calendar," which consisted of "timely reminders from the State College experts." A related column titled "The Farmer's Wife" that shared "weekly service hints furnished by State College specialists," including recipes and household management tips, was added to the newspaper in November of 1921.

In 1917 Adams was able to purchase a competing local newspaper, The Webster World, and consolidate the titles into one. In the July 12, 1917 issue the owners of the World, Seymour E. Bronson and his son David Bronson, bid farewell to Webster on the front page of the Reporter and Farmer, wishing both Adams and Webster success: "one county seat newspaper will command such a large patronage and have such a big subscription list that it will be in a position financially to put out a better paper than the two competitive publishers could afford to issue." For the next several months the masthead of the Reporter and Farmer bore the notice "Continuing the Webster World."

William Adams died of pneumonia on February 7, 1922. His obituary in the February 9 issue took up the majority of the front page, calling him "one of Day County's most widely known and best beloved citizens." Albert J. Adams (no relation) managed the newspaper while the estate was settled, and the younger brother of William, Josiah J. Adams, took over publication of the Reporter and Farmer on March 22, 1923. The very next week he was joined by C. E. Wilson as editor-manager. Josiah Adams controlled the Reporter and Farmer until it was purchased in 1928 by Harold W. Card, formerly of The Rapid City Daily Journal. In 1946 the Reporter and Farmer bought and absorbed another local newspaper, The Webster Journal. The Day County Printing Company purchased the Reporter and Farmer in 1965, with Larry Ingalls taking over as editor. The Reporter and Farmer continues in publication today.

Provided by: South Dakota State Historical Society – State Archives