The Moorhead Weekly News & George Nathan Lamphere, 1883-1900

Moorhead Historic Preservation Walking Tour

The Moorhead Weekly News & George Nathan Lamphere, 1883-1900

Moorhead, Minnesota 56560, United States

Created By: North Dakota State University

Point of Interest Details

“…a newspaper is a paper printed regularly with an established place of business and real bona fide subscribers, men who pay their subscriptions in money or its equivalent; that it should contain news of various classes: local, telegraphic, and editorial, both local and ‘of the heavy sort,’ and that it should have local and foreign advertisements.”—G.N. Lamphere, Definition of a Newspaper, Annual Meeting of the Minnesota State Editorial Association, 1893

George N. Lamphere was born in Mystic, Connecticut on August 23, 1845, to David and Mary Ann Lamphere. Lamphere received a “common education” until at the age of sixteen when after a short-lived effort at farming near Groton, he began an apprenticeship with his uncle, James M. Scofield, owner and publisher of the Hartford Morning Post newspaper in Hartford, Connecticut. His early newspaper training was interrupted however with the beginning of the Civil War, where Lamphere enlisted in the Union Army and the 16th Regiment of the Connecticut Volunteers. Lamphere was only sixteen years old at the time of his enlistment on July 19, 1862, and his war experience as a teenager is enough to write a novel. In fact, Lamphere, in later life, would do just that. Much of his autobiography, Experiences, and Observances of a Private Soldier in the Civil War relates to his experience with Company ‘B’ of the 16th Connecticut Volunteers and capture on April 20th, 1864 while engaged with Confederate forces at the Battle of Plymouth, North Carolina. For almost a month after his capture, Lamphere struggled with an infection in his left arm from a battle wound at the Libby Prison Hospital in Richmond, Virginia, until it prison hospital surgeons amputated it on May 22nd, 1864. After being relocated to the Columbia Prisoner of War Camp in South Carolina, the Confederate Armey paroled Lamphere on December 16th, 1864 as part of a prisoner exchange. Lamphere mustered out of military service with honors on June 24, 1865, at Baltimore, Maryland.

According to the NDSU Institute for Regional Studies & University Archives, after military service Lamphere “went to Washington where he was appointed a shipping clerk. He later was a Clerk Class I, in the office of the Quartermaster General and then in the Census Office. He took part in the first Civil Service exam, becoming a clerk in the Treasury Department and eventually Chief of the Appointments Division there, despite a campaign by the Order of the American Union against him because his wife was Catholic. During this time, he was also a correspondent for several papers.” Also, while in Washington, Lamphere published The United States Government: Its Organization and Practical Workings in 1880, which was very successful and is still in publication as of 2016.

In 1882 Lamphere came to Moorhead, Minnesota with his wife, Sarah Cecelia (Jones) and growing family of eleven children. Their family home lists in the 1891 Moorhead City Directory at “E S 7th 2 s of William.” The Elmer’s first prospect in local business was in real estate and insurance with William J. Bodkin (Bodkin & Company), located near Front and East 6th Street, and in 1883 the family purchased the Moorhead Daily News located near 5th and James, just off of Main Street (now 5th Street North and Main Ave). In Moorhead, Lamphere was involved in the temperance movement, supported WCTU efforts and prohibition, and was a “staunch supporter” of the Populist Party. In 1887, Lamphere would be a principal founder of the Moorhead, Leech Lake, Duluth & Northwestern Railroad. Lamphere would also help found and serve on Moorhead’s L.H. Tenney Post No. 103 G.A.R. (Grand Army of the Republic) and serve on the Minnesota State Board of Education as Treasurer. In 1891, Governor William R. Merriam and the Minnesota Legislature appointed Lamphere to the Board of World’s Fair Managers (Columbian Exposition of 1893, Minnesota Building). Lamphere also served as Moorhead city auditor and a member of numerous public committees and organizations. Most notably, Lamphere was a well-known and contributory member of the Minnesota State Editorial Association.

In 1900, the Lamphere family sold their business interests to his son-in-law William D. Titus in Moorhead and relocated to St. Paul where George became Superintendent or Secretary of the Minnesota Soldier’s Home at Fort Snelling. Lamphere would also fill the capacities of the Director of the Chamber of Commerce of St. Paul, treasurer of Park Congregational Church, and Vice Commander and National Convention Delegate of the Minnesota Union of Ex-Prisoners of War. Of further interest to Red River Valley history, Lamphere also published History of Wheat Raising in the Red River Valley in 1905, the first detailed study of wheat agricultural history in the region.

In June of 1907, G.N. Lamphere and his wife relocated to Palouse, Washington, “being attracted” to the area as his son, George N. Lamphere Jr. and family had come to the Idaho/Washington border region a decade earlier from Moorhead. Lamphere Sr., with his son, helped to establish the Palouse Republic newspaper and once again, G.N. Lamphere served on the Chamber of Commerce as Secretary for nine years, served as mayor of Palouse for one term, and belonged to the Royal Arcanum and the Ancient Order of United Workmen. On August 20th, 1916, Cecelia Lamphere would die after a long struggle with cancer and on February 10th, 1918, Lamphere passed away due to a sudden attack of pneumonia. Stated in his Palouse Republic obituary, G.N. Lamphere “was conscientious and efficient and wherever he had lived” people held him in “high esteem. He felt keenly the misfortunes and sorrows of others, always espousing the causes of the masses, and was a helpful friend to many in the hour of need…he became endeared to the people as few men have and few, if any, can lay claim to having been of more service to the community.”


  1. “1891 Moorhead City Directory.” Historical & Cultural Society of Clay County. (Accessed October 22, 2016).
  2. Alden, Ogle & Company. 1889. Illustrated Album of Biography of the Famous Valley of the Red River of the North and the Park Regions of Minnesota and North Dakota: Containing Biographical Sketches of Settlers and Representative Citizens. Chicago: Alden, Ogle & Co. pgs. 243-244.
  3. Engelhardt, Carroll L. 2007. Gateway to the Northern Plains: Railroads and the Birth of Fargo and Moorhead. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
  4. Fargo-Moorhead Centennial Corporation. 1975. A Century Together: A History of Fargo, North Dakota, and Moorhead, Minnesota. [Fargo]: Fargo-Moorhead Centennial Corporation.
  5. George N. Lamphere Papers, MS 1151, Institute for Regional Studies, North Dakota State University, Fargo.
  6. “George N. Lamphere Sr., Civil War Veteran, Answers Last Call,” The Palouse Republic (Palouse, WA), February 15, 1918.
  7. Gordon, Lesley J. 2015. A Broken Regiment: The 16th Connecticut's Civil War. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press.
  8. Helmes, Winifred G. 1949. John A. Johnson, The People's Governor: A Political Biography. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. pgs. 40-43.
  9. Kellogg, Robert. 2008. Life and Death in Rebel Prisons. Applewood Books.
  10. Lamphere, George N. Experiences, and Observances of a Private Soldier in the Civil War. David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University, Durham.
  11. Lamphere, George N. 1891. A/.L237. Gale Family Library. Minnesota History Center. George Nathan Lamphere papers. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul.
  12. Lamphere, George N. 1880. The United States Government: Its Organization and Practical Workings. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott.
  13. Lamphere, George N. 1905. "History of Wheat Raising in the Red River Valley." Collections of the Minnesota Historical Society. 10. Vol. 1.
  14. Martin, Lawrence A. 2010. Railroads in Minnesota, Part II. (Accessed 10/22/16).
  15. Minnesota. 1800. Executive Documents of the State of Minnesota for the Fiscal Year Ending July 31, 1894. Vol. II. Online version: Google Books. (OCoLC)656578885
  16. Relyea, William H., and John M. Priest. 2002. 16th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry. Shippensburg, Pa: Burd Street Press.
  17. Spalding, J. A. 1891. Illustrated Popular Biography of Connecticut. Hartford, Conn: Press of the Case, Lockwood & Brainard Co.

Image Credits

“George Nathan Lamphere of Moorhead and St. Paul. Owner/publisher of the Moorhead Daily News. Member of the Minnesota State Editorial Association.” por 27837 r1. Minnesota Historical Society. (Accessed 10/22/16). (Courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society)

This point of interest is part of the tour: Moorhead Historic Preservation Walking Tour


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