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Marshall was founded in 1872, yet some believe that it was not established until a year later.

While the original settlers of the pioneer community might have believed that Marshall had a number of things to offer, they had no medium to publicize their thoughts.

In pioneer communities, newspapers were often used for that purpose as they were handed to any traveler that entered the individual town boundaries. Newspapers boosted the morale of the existing residents and attracted new settlers and industries.

In some ways the permanency of a community was not ensured until it could claim a news journal.

Marshall was no exception to this thought and in August 1873, J.C. Ervin published the inaugural edition of the Prairie Schooner, the first newspaper in Lyon County.

Besides being informational, Ervin's paper was propagandic in nature as it was viewed as an aid in Marshall being named the Lyon County seat.

However, Ervin soon became tired of the struggles of the frontier and sold the Prairie Schooner in December 1874 to C.F. Case and moved to St. Paul. Case increased the size of the paper and changed the name to the Marshall Messenger.

Roughly 10 years later, Charles C. Whitney purchased the Messenger and merged it with the Lyon County News, which he gained ownership of in 1880.

The Lyon County News was founded in May 1879 by W.M. Todd and George A. Edes. Less than a year later it was sold to George B. Gee, from whom Whitney obtained it from.

Whitney remained in the role of publisher and editor of the Marshall News-Messenger until his death in June 1913. His son Joseph W. Whitney took over the operation but in 1928 he leased the plant to its employees.

The paper continued under the control of the News-Messenger Inc., a corporation comprised of print manager R.D. Baldwin Sr., his son Ray and Wilbur C. Peterson.

Baldwin Jr. became the business manager and Peterson bore the editor responsibility. Joseph Whitney returned to the operation in 1932 as the advertising manager and the paper was known as the Daily Messenger.

Baldwin Jr. recalls that operating a newspaper during the Depression was not an easy venture. "On a number of occasions there was a question of whether we would be able to meet payroll. It was a difficult time but somehow we made it," he said.

During the time that the Messenger was making management and format changes, Marshall's other publication -- The Lyon County Independent -- was in its early stages.

The Independent, a weekly newspaper founded by A.J. Henle in 1931, was composed primarily of advertisements but contained a fair amount of news articles and photos. The paper had one unique feature: it was distributed to the public at no charge.

The concept was developed by Henle with his first venture into the newspaper business -- the Marshall Magnet. He started the monthly publication in 1925 and offered it to the public at no cost because it was one way to compete with an established paper.

"It was unheard of, it was really a unique thing. I think my father was a pioneer in free publicatioins," said Larry Henle, A.J.'s son who followed him into the business.

Larry and his brother Ray worked for their father as the advertising and print managers, respectively. The Independent was published in the building where the Henle Printing Co. is currently located on West Main Street.

While the family members had specific titles, their duties at the paper often extended past those titles.

"With this operation you had to do everything. You sold and produced the ads, put the paper together and then went out and peddled them. After that you came back and swept the floors," Larry said.

A.J. Henle came to Marshall in 1921 as a printer after learning the trade in his family's New Ulm business and refining it in the Army.

As a Linotype operator in World War I, Henle was summoned to Paris to help print the Treaty of Versailles. The document spelled out the restrictions placed on Germany at the close of the war. Only 60 copies of the treaty were produced, and Henle kept one for his family, hiding it in his shirt as he left the plant.

While the Independent saw little changes in its format other than switching to a biweekly in the late 1960s, the same could not be said for the Messenger.

In August of 1942, the paper reverted back to a weekly format as a move to lower costs during World War II and became the Marshall Messenger. An editorial focusing on the change said that it was a difficult, but necessary move.

"It's true that it won't and can't be a daily paper, and no one regrets this more than the publishers themselves -- it isn't easy after spending 10 years of your life building something up to have it taken away from you by a war. But the war has taken away many other things and there's nothing that can be done about it. Just as we have to get along on our old tires, so we have to get along on a weekly paper, publisher and reader alike." In 1947, the Messenger became a biweekly on a daily basis again.

Don Olson, who purchased the paper from the Baldwins and Peterson in 1947, stated in his editorial that the growth of Marshall was one reason for the change. With the city's industries and population booming, he felt the paper needed to progress as well.

"The Messenger would be remiss if it did not face up to its responsibility of keeping up with the changing times and greater activity of the community," Olson wrote.

The experiment would only last a short time as the Messenger became a triweekly in January 1961. Ten years later, Olson sold the paper to the New Ulm-based Mickelson Media Inc., a move that would lead to the consolidation of the Marshall publications.

MMI president Walter K. Mickelson purchased the Lyon County Independent from the Henle's in 1973. "It was the old godfather approach. They made us an offer that was too good to pass up," Larry said.

The move resulted in the formation of the Messenger-Independent, a six-day-a-week morning paper. The name Messenger was eventually dropped from the masthead.

In May1980, MMI sold the Independent to Ogden Newspapers. Larry Henle served as publisher of the paper from 1987 until December1994 when he retired. Russ Labat replaced him and remains the Independent's publisher.

 
 
 

 

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