About The River Press (Fort Benton, Mont.) 1880-current
- Dates available on this site:
- Jan. 2, 1889-Dec. 29, 2004
- Dates published:
- Geographic coverage:
- Contributing institution:
- The River Press, Fort Benton, Montana
The first issue of the River Press appeared on October 27, 1880, in Fort Benton, Montana. In charge of the publication were James E. Stevens, H.C. Williams, and Thomas D. Wright. Since the partners only had fifty dollars altogether, the Republican Party in Helena and Fort Benton provided financial backing. Jerimiah Collins, a newcomer in Fort Benton, bought a share in the Press in 1881 and incorporated it in 1882. The paper began publishing a daily on June 6, 1882, and continued the title until 1919. Collins became one of the founding members of the Montana Press Association in 1885. In 1887, he left the Press to start the Great Falls Tribune. Englishman William K. Harber, who had lived in Fort Benton since 1884, became the editor of the Press in 1891 and remained so until his retirement in 1922. As editor, Harber did not shy from supporting such issues as women’s suffrage, legislation by initiative, workmen’s compensation, and the direct primary. Early issues of the paper were filled with information such as mining news, local news, and national news. Also present were the usual advertisements for local businesses, news for nearby towns, and editorials. Despite its Republican funding, the paper’s first editorial declared it “…believe[d] it to be the mission of the newspaper to furnish news and material untinged with partizan [sic] opinion.” The Press’s statement on independence in journalism may have precluded partisanship, but it did not prevent the paper from fighting with other newspapers. Several paragraphs rebuking the Helena Herald’s and Benton Record’s lack of journalistic integrity followed the editorial. During the Second World War, the Press reported on the war well before the attack on Pearl Harbor. After the attack, the paper printed its own story about Pearl Harbor alongside stories with headlines such as “To Speed Selective Service Inductions” and “To Enlist Parachute Troops.” The parachute story went on to detail that “…the government will accept a picked group of Montanans, who have had previous service with the United States army, for enlistment during the month of December for training as parachute troops at Fort Benning, Georgia.” The paper also reported on the local chapter of the Red Cross asking the community for help raising fifty million dollars. The Press remained largely unchanged by the 2000s, with church service times, obituaries, and community events making up most of the content. The September 12, 2001 issue carried two small but powerful notes concerning the tragedy of the day before: a notice for an ecumenical prayer service and one for a “National Call for Blood” donations. On September 16, the Press published a picture of a man raising an American flag on the front page. The caption below mentioned that “here in Fort Benton, flags have appeared in front of businesses and homes throughout the town, as everyone unites in determination to seek justice in response to the unspeakably atrocious attacks in New York and Washington, D.C. last week…hopefully as this chapter in history unfolds the nobler, kinder impulses in humanity will prevail…” Beyond 9/11, the paper printed relatively peaceful news of Fort Benton and surrounding communities such as Highwood and the Knees Community. Please note that additional digitized issues of the River Press (1880-1888 and 1902-1914) are available on the Chronicling America website.
- Copyright Information:
- Issues published prior to 1926 are in the public domain. Issues published in 1926 or later, © The River Press, Fort Benton, MT. Used with permission.
- sn 85053157
- Catalog Record (MARC)