Letter/IconHE territorial press was strongly characterized by ability and virility. The manifestation of the latter quality often degenerated into excessive roughness and sometimes even boorishness, but this extravagance was a natural result of the lack of restraint by the more refined public opinion, which is wanting in new and unorganized societies. In the year following the organization of the territory, J. Sterling Morton began to impress his strong personality and remarkably aggressive temperament upon the News of Nebraska City, and during a period of about forty years that journal bore the marks of his incisive style, though he was either actual or nominal editor during only a part of that time. In 1865 Dr. George L. Miller began to play a no less conspicuous part in the journalism of the territory through the columns of the Omaha Herald, of which he was editor for twenty-two years. Less conspicuous but yet remarkable for ability and aggressive individuality were Edward D. Webster, Edward B. Taylor, John Taffe, and Saint A. D. Balcombe, who were from time to time editors of the Omaha Republican from 1859 on beyond the territorial period. Robert W. Furnas, editor of the Nebraska Advertiser at Brownville from 1856 to 1861, was an industrious purveyor of territorial news, and next to the Nebraska City News, the Advertiser exercised the greatest political influence of any newspaper in the South Platte section. Orsamus H. Irish exerted a large measure of leadership in the republican party through his intermittent connection with the People's Press of Nebraska City from 1858 to 1866. Milton W. Reynolds and Augustus F. Harvey ably edited the Nebraska City News during a period of about four years each under the territorial government, and Bird B. Chapman, John H. Sherman, Theodore H. Robertson, Merrill H. Clark, and Milton W. Reynolds successively made the Omaha Nebraskian one of the most aggressive and wide-awake journals of the territorial times.
   The Nebraska Palladium was the first newspaper published for Nebraska, as also the first

Franklin Sweet


First Omaha editor, Arrow, 1854

published in Nebraska. Its first edition was printed at St. Mary, Iowa, nearly opposite Bellevue, on Saturday, July 15, 1854, though the name "Belleview" appeared in the date line and it was published as a Nebraska paper. The issue of November 15, 1854, was printed at



Bellevue and its publication was continued at that place until its suspension with the issue of April 11, 1855. During its entire career the name of Daniel E. Reed & Co. appeared as editors and publishers. Thomas Morton set the first type for the Palladium printed at Bellevue, and therefore the first type ever set for a newspaper or any other purpose in Nebraska. The first column, second page, of the first number printed in Nebraska contained a full account of that very interesting incident.
   The next item in the paper is an excuse for delay in the issue that week, which was owing to the removal from St. Mary, and the editor announces that on this account he will skip the next week's issue. While the date on the title page is November 15th, that at the head of the editorial column is Saturday, November 18th, which is probably the day when the paper was actually printed. Another item announces the arrival at Bellevue, on the 13th of November, of "J. S. Morton, assistant editor of the Detroit Free Press, and lady."
   It is supposed that the Palladium was named after the well-known journal of Worcester, Mass. The editor, Mr. Reed, was employed in the office of the Worcester Palladium as printer's. devil; and in the third item of the first issue of the Nebraska namesake, in a plea to the governor to speedily appoint a Thanksgiving day, he says: "We were born and educated in New England, and we love our institutions, among which, is that of appointing an annual THANKSGIVING DAY." Mr. Reed came to Bellevue to teach in the school of the Indian agency. He seems to have been possessed by the New England or Puritan temperament and conservatism to such a degree as to prevent his adaptation to his new western frontier environment and its society of hustlers. He preached excellent moral precepts in season and out of season, but, considering the character of the field he was cultivating, he overworked them. Notwithstanding that during the five months of the Palladium's existence, the editor recorded in it many facts and ideas directly appertaining to the beginning of Nebraska, yet it is to be regretted that his somewhat excessive and morbid moralizing doubtless displaced many a precious item of information which would otherwise have been preserved. Bellevue's loss of the capital, which blasted the hopes of the ambitious and promising first town of the commonwealth, discouraged the publishers of the first paper and overstrained the moral confidence, and apparently broke the heart as well as the purse of the introspective editor. In the issue of April 11, 1855, he makes the following announcement:
   We have against our own desire, and that of many ardent friends, made up our mind to suspend the issue of the PALLADIUM until a sufficient amount of town pride springs up in Bellevue to pay the expense of its publication. The expenses of issuing a paper are such that a large amount of advertising patronage is required for its support; and as there has not been, and is not now, sufficient inducements of this kind, we shall wait until there is, or until some others are held forth. We hope that time will soon appear. We have been assured by members of the Territorial Council, that it was the design to give us the printing of one journal of that body, and that it would have done it, had we not have advocated the local politics and sectional interests of this place, with as much warmth as we felt it our duty to do in behalf of the capitalists and politicians of this place. The PEOPLE too, had the rights of enfranchisement to be contended for. We breasted the surging billows of political strife in behalf of these, and they have done what they could to sustain us, and they have our thanks.
   The Bellevue Association has given us twenty-four bundles of printing paper for which we have sacrificed pecuniary interests far more valuable to us -- and which they are either unable, or unwilling to make good. This company now oppose us, because we refuse to descend low enough in their service to oppose other interests in this place, as valuable and as righteous as their own. When they make good what we have lost in their behalf, it will be time enough to ask us to do more.
   We are in hopes to be able to re-issue the PALLADIUM in due time, under better auspices than it has hitherto been. In the interim we intend to make the necessary preparation for this purpose.

   But that more convenient season, when the journalistic conscientiousness so much affected by our editor should have chance for play, never came. The editor's successors long since learned that journalism is primarily a



private enterprise, like any other commercial business, and primarily governed or enchained by commercial ethics.
   The second newspaper published for, though not in, Nebraska was the Omaha Arrow. The first number of this paper was dated July 28, 1854, and Joseph E. Johnson and John W. Pattison were its editors and proprietors. Between this time and December 29, 1854, the date of the last number, the Arrow was issued somewhat irregularly thirteen times, and all the issues were published at Council Bluffs. This Johnson was certainly the most versatile and ubiquitous, and probably the most unique figure in the history of Nebraska journalism. He was a Mormon and probably settled at Kanesville -- now Council Bluffs -- for that reason in 1852, where he bought the Bugle of A. W. Babbitt, who established it in 1850. The Arrow was printed in the office of the Bugle.
   The bubbling poesy of the salutatory all but drowns its practical purpose.

   Well, strangers, friends, patrons, and the good people generally, wherever in the wide world your lot may be cast, and in whatever clime this Arrow may reach you, here we are upon Nebraska soil, seated upon the stump of an acient oak, which serves for an editorial chair, and the top of our badly abused beaver for a table, we purpose enditing a leader for the OMAHA ARROW. An elevated tableland surrounds us; the majestic Missouri just off on our left goes sweeping its muddy course adown toward the Mexican Gulf, whilst the background of the pleasing picture is filled up with Iowa's loveliest, richest scenery. Away upon our left spreading far away in the distance lies one of the loveliest sections of Nebraska. Yon rich, rolling, wide spread and beautiful prairie dotted with timber looks lovely enough just now, as heaven's free sunlight touches off in beauty the lights and shades to be literally entitled the Eden land of the world, and inspire us with flights of fancy upon this antiquated beaver, but it won't pay. There sticks our axe in the trunk of an old oak whose branches have for years been fanned by the breezes that constantly sweeps from over the ofttimes flower dotted prairie lea, and from which we purpose making a log for our cabin and claim.
   Yonder comes two stalwart sons of the forest bedecked in their native finery. They approach and stand before us in our "sanctum." That dancing feather which adorns his head once decked the gaudy plumage of the mountain eagle. The shades of the rainbow appear on their faces. They extend the hand of friendship with the emphatic "cuggy how" (how are you friend) and knowing our business request us by signs and gesticulations to "write" in the Arrow to the great Father that the Omahas want what he has promised them, and they ask us also to write no bad about them. We promise compliance, whilst they watch the progress of our pencil back and forth over the paper. But let us proceed. What shall we say. But little.

Franklin Sweet


Omaha Indian agent and prominent Nebraska citizen of early days

   The ARROW'S target will be the general interest and welfare of this highly favored, new and beautiful Territory upon which we have now for the first established a regular weekly paper. Our caste is decidedly "Young American" in spirit and politics. We are in favor of anything that runs by steam or electricity, and the unflinching advocates of the "sovereigns of the soil."
   The pioneering squatter and the uncivilized red man are our constituents and neighbors. The wolves and deers our traveling companions, and the wild birds and prairie winds our musicians-more highly appreciated than all the carefully prepared concerts of earth. Surrounded by associations, circumstances, and scenes like these, what do you expect from us,



anxious reader. Don't be disappointed if you do not always get that which is intelligible and polished from our pens, (we mean those of the East and South, the pioneers understand our dialect.) Take therefore what you get with a kindly heart and no grumbling. In the support of the national Democratic party, the advocacy of the Pacific R. R. up the only feasible route -- the Platte Valley -- the progress of Nebraska, and the interests of the people amongst whom we live, always count the ARROW flying, hitting and cutting.
   We'll shoulder our axe and bid you adieu until next week.
   The article in the next column entitled "A Night in our Sanctum" is worth quoting as an example of the fertile fancy and imagination of the first Omaha editor.
   The Arrow's valedictory illustrates both the vicissitudes of early territorial journalism and the characteristic quaintness of the editor's style:


   Well friends, it has been some time since we last met, but here we are again.
   Providence, and THE BAD STATE OF NAVIGATION OF THE MISSOURI RIVER has played smash with our calculations and we have not been able to "come up to time" in the issue of the arrow, but expect before long to make it permanent at Omaha, or piece [place] it in hands that will do you justice and honor to themselves. In the meantime we send you the "Bugle" in its place which contains every thing of stirring interest in Nebraska. -- Each subscriber will receive his just and true number of papers and in the end, will lose nothing.
   We are sorry for this unavoidable state of things. We had press and material purchased but on the account of the exhorbitant rates of freight were detained below.

   John W. Pattison, who afterward became prominent in Nebraska journalism and politics, was associated with Mr. Johnson in the editorship of the Arrow. He was a bright young man, and probably as an inference from that fact many old settlers of that time believe that the articles of striking originality which appeared in the Arrow were from his pen. But added to the testimony of others we have evidence in the pages of the Huntsman's Echo, which Mr. Johnson published at Wood River Center, in 1860, that he was the author of the articles in question. The style of writing in the Echo is unmistakably the same as that of the peculiar articles in the Arrow. The ready imagination, the lively sensibility to the salient features of the writer's environment, the happy conceits and the quaint simplicity of style which are illustrated in the effusions of this untutored product of the plains would be remarkable as specialties in the most pretentious periodical of today. Even the workaday incidents of his bucolic life, which he enjoyed with a relish as if he and his rural world were designed especially for each other, he pictured in his naive fancy. This is the way he records the coming, of the very materialistic telegraph line:


   The poles -- wire -- the telegraph -- the lightning! The first are up, the second stretched, the third playing upon the line between St. Jo. and Omaha; and the people of Omaha are exulting in the enjoyment of direct communication with the balance of the earth, and the rest of mankind. Dispatches from everywhere generally, and any place in particular, may be had by calling at the office.
   The poles are already planted nearly half way to this place, and in two weeks it is expected that all the poles will be up as far as Kearney, seventeen miles above here, and the laying of the wire soon commenced. And soon --
    Thoughts that breathe and words that burn, will glide along the wires with lightning rapidity.
   Yesterday Messrs. Kountze and Porter called upon us whilst on their trip providing for the distribution of the balance of the poles along the route. Come on with your forked lightning! Strike for the Great Western ocean, the land of gold and glittering stones and ore.

   The prosy slaughter of a prosier buffalo strikes his poetic vein:


   It will be recollected, that in our last, we gave out certain cautions, and warnings, against a large class of intruders upon personal property -- viz: the tresspassing of herds of buffalo upon our town site, and arable lands. Unfortunately for the party concerned, no heed was given to our ominous warnings, and the result has been, the fall of another aboriginal bovine -- that fell a victim of



curiosity. Walking leisurely to a point near our office he seemed to sniff an idea -- perhaps a good one -- or perhaps he took one peep for the skeleton of one of his kine, and thus in a reflective, designing or calculating mood he stopped, and from under his long shaggy lashes gazed toward us -- stamped our ground, pawed up dust and earth, and then, after snuffing the breeze towered his head in a threatening mood; we could not stand it longer, but started Sam, who intercepted his progress before he had done much damage to our garden, and hanging away

    The well-aimed lead pursues the certain sight;
   And Death in thunder overtook his flight.

   The flesh being secured, our t'other half, little ones, self and the balance, have been regaling upon roast, broil, fry and stew, ever since.

   This master of a delightfully natural style was, contrary to the old maxim, jack of all trades. In advertisements in the Emigrant's Guide, published at Kanesville, December 15, 1852, the versatile editor appears as "general outfitting commission merchant"; as keeper of "Council Bluffs Mansion"; as carrying on "wagonmaking and blacksmithing"; as keeper of a "cabinet shop"; and of a "bakery, confectionery and eating saloon." In the same paper he joins two others in certifying as an expert that the north route to California up the Platte river is best. When he became tired of Wood River Center, Mr. Johnson followed the tide of his Mormon brethren to Salt Lake City.
   While the Palladium and the Arrow were shortlived, the News of Nebraska City, though it was subsequently started, is the oldest paper in Nebraska at the present time, and was the first that had any considerable length of life. It was first printed in Sidney, Iowa, in the fall of 1854, though with the name Nebraska News, and Dr. Henry Bradford was its first editor. It was moved to Nebraska City, November 14, 1854, and occupied the second story of the blockhouse of old Fort Kearney, which was built in 1846. The 12th of the following April J. Sterling Morton was employed at a salary of $50 per month as editor by its proprietors, the Nebraska City Town Site Company, and Thomas Morton became foreman or head of the mechanical department. Soon after he became the owner, and he continued as part or sole owner and publisher until his death, August 10, 1887. J. Sterling Morton was editor from April 12, 1855, to April 13, 1856; R. Lee Barrowman from April 13 to August 15, 1856, and then Morton again to August 26, 1857; then Milton W. Reynolds to October 19, 1861; then Augustus F. Harvey to August 25, 1865; then Morton to and through 1868. R. Lee Barrowman became a part owner with Thomas Morton and was editor for a short time.
   By virtue of its location in the largest town in the territory and the ability and political prominence and activity of J. Sterling Morton, its editor, the News was the leading journal of the territory until the Herald and Republican outstripped it when Omaha, through the stimulus of the Union Pacific railroad, became the business metropolis. Its name was changed from the Nebraska News to the Nebraska City News, May 15, 1858.
   In the great fire of May 12, 1860, the News office was totally destroyed, and the Mortons bought of Jacob Dawson the printing plant of the Wyoming Telescope, and also the material of a large printing office at Otoe City, eight miles south of Nebraska City, on the Missouri river.
   The Nebraska City News, now in its sixty-third year, is published by the News Publishing Company, with Charles M. Hubner as editor, E. D. Marnell. associate and city editor, and Otoe C. Morton, son of the late Thomas Morton, business manager.
   The People's Press was started as a weekly November 25, 1858, by C. W. Sherfey. Within a few weeks the office was sold to Orsamus H. Irish and L. L. Survey, but the latter retired soon after and Mr. Irish continued as editor and proprietor, while the publishers were Irish and Matthias. January 2, 1860, this partnership was dissolved, Colonel Irish continuing the publication, which was made a semi-weekly and so continued until May following when Mr. Matthias became editor. May 12, 1860, the Press office was destroyed in the big fire, and the paper was issued temporarily from the office of the

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