NIT turns 160 in 2016

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By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

1856: James Buchanan was elected 15th president of the United States, the Republican Party held its first national meeting, the Crimean War ended in Europe and the tin-type camera and accordion were both patented. On Friday, Oct. 10, the North Iowa Times was established in McGregor.

The newspaper was founded by Col. A.P. Richardson and F.W.D. Merrill, the brother of Iowa Governor Samuel Merrill, although Merrill’s name appeared on the masthead for just two weeks. In the first issue, Richardson stated, “The commercial interest of McGregor to say nothing of the demands of a country west of us unsurpassed in fertility required the establishment of a newspaper.” 

The paper supported James Buchanan for president and was known as the first Democratic paper in Northeast Iowa. According to McGregor historian Lena D. Myers,
“the slogan for the eight-page, eight-column paper was ‘We march with the flag and keep step to the music of the union,’ which they chose during the Civil War period.” A subscription was $2 per annum and it was published each Friday.

These days, the North Iowa Times is regarded as Iowa’s third oldest weekly newspaper, although there’s an argument that it is the second oldest behind the Winterset Madisonian (established in June 1856), as some once-weekly papers became dailies over the years. 

Of those weeklies, it’s the only newspaper still published under its original name. The “North Iowa” portion of the name harkens back to McGregor’s early days, when it was a major port for most of northern Iowa.

Although it’s seen ups and downs over the years, the North Iowa Times remains the community’s oldest business institution. In fact, the paper pre-dates the incorporation of McGregor, which occurred in 1857.

“We’ve kept it going because of the strong sense of community toward the newspaper. The community loved and wanted the North Iowa Times,” said current publisher Gary Howe. “It’s longevity is due to the fact that the community feels a sense of ownership. Their continued support helps maintain its existence.”

The North Iowa Times will celebrate its 160th anniversary throughout 2016. A monthly feature will highlight some aspect of the paper, whether it be previous owners, previous advertisers, unique editorials, the importance of the weekly newspaper or the current state of the publication. In October, around the true 160th anniversary, we hope to hold a special promotion.

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