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The St. Cloud Visiter Newspaper
*On this date in 1858, we celebrate the St. Cloud Visiter newspaper. It was founded in St. Cloud, Minnesota, by newspaper publisher Jane Grey Swisshelm. In 1857, she left her husband in Pittsburgh to form the paper.
The venture was short-lived; a group of men supporting slavery destroyed her printing press later that March. Sylvanus B. Lowry, a Tennessean, was instrumental in organizing a "Committee of Vigilance" and conducting a midnight raid on the newspaper office. They smashed the press, scattering the type and throwing the rest in the Mississippi River. Lowry kept slaves in the free territory of Minnesota. As a Democrat, he wanted to quell the resurgence of Republican sympathizers that the St. Cloud Visiter may have provoked.
A city-wide mass meeting of citizens was angered by the violent act, donating time and money to rebuild the press. By May of that year, the St. Cloud Visiter was re-issued with a full report by Mrs. Swisshelm of the events through her suit of libel. Agreeing to discontinue the publication of the Visiter, she changed the title of her newspaper to the St. Cloud Democrat. She sold the business in 1863. During the American Civil War, after the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862, Mrs. Swisshelm volunteered as a nurse.
She spent the next two years caring for Union troops and supplying letters to the Democrats about her experiences. In June of 1863, the newspaper was purchased by her nephew, William Bell Mitchell, who continued to publish under the Democrat name until 1866, when the paper was enlarged to nine columns, and the name changed to the St. Cloud Journal.