ST. PAUL - Minnesota Territory was less than two months old when its first newspaper appeared on the streets of St. Paul 170 years ago.
The first issue of the Minnesota Pioneer - the earliest ancestor of the Pioneer Press - was printed in the drafty spare room of a carpentry shop on what is now Kellogg Boulevard.
The force behind the Pioneer was 38-year-old James Madison Goodhue, a combative and clever newspaperman who had only recently arrived in the territorial capital from Wisconsin, along with a hand-operated press and printers to operate it, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported in its Sunday edition, April 28.
Just a couple of months after the Pioneer’s first issue hit the streets, the tiny town of about 500 people was home to two more newspapers, writes George S. Hage in his book “Newspapers on the Minnesota Frontier.” By the time Minnesota entered the Union as the 32nd state in 1858, that number had grown to 21.
Although Goodhue’s premature death of illness in August 1852 cut short his tenure atop the Pioneer masthead, the newspaper he founded would survive, gradually absorbing its rivals.
By 1938, all of St. Paul’s newspapers had been consolidated under the one company called Pioneer Press and Dispatch, the direct descendant of Goodhue’s Pioneer.