On This Date In Twin Cities History - February 29, 1868
On this date in 1868, the St. Paul Daily Dispatch, an evening journal, was issued for the first time by H. P. Hall and David Ramaley. The Dispatch would run as a daily, independent newspaper for the next 117 years.
The Dispatch was purchased by George Thompson in 1885 forming the Dispatch Printing Company (DPC). The company also bought the St. Paul Pioneer Press in 1909 and ran the two newspapers independently.
Around the same time, Charles K. Blandin was hired as the DPC’s business manager and became a small shareholder in the company. In 1916 the DPC bought the Itasca Paper Company in order to control the newspapers’ source of newsprint. Thompson died in 1917, and Blandin bought a controlling interest in the DPC from Thompson’s widow Abigail. In 1923 Abigail Thompson died. Blandin subsequently acquired her shares as well.
In 1923 Blandin reorganized the DPC into the Dispatch and Pioneer Press Company, and shifted legal incorporation from Minnesota to Delaware. In 1927, both the Dispatch and Pioneer Press were acquired by Ridder Publications. The two papers were operated for many years as separate morning and evening papers. In 1974, Ridder merged with Knight Publications to form Knight Ridder.
In 1985, the papers were merged into a single all-day publication called the St. Paul Pioneer Press and Dispatch. In 1986, the paper dropped the “and” from its name becoming simply the St. Paul Pioneer Press Dispatch. The publication eventually made the transition to a morning-only newspaper, and on March 26, 1990, the word “Dispatch” was dropped.
The McClatchy Company acquired the paper in June 2006 when it bought Knight Ridder. As owner of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, McClatchy was forced to sell the Pioneer Press because of antitrust concerns. The paper was subsequently sold by McClatchy to MediaNews Group later in the year where it remains today.
Image: St. Paul Dispatch from December 4, 1928