- The First Seventy-five Years in the Sanborn Community (1878-1953) -
Town’s Oldest Business, The Pioneer
The history of Sanborn’s newspaper, the Pioneer, antedates the history of Sanborn. The first newspaper in O’Brien county, it was started at O’Brien, the first settlement in the county located in the southeast corner of the county. J.R. Pumphrey and M.J. McCormack were the men responsible for starting it, the first issue being Dec. 8, 1871, 82 years ago. It is believed the paper was printed in Cherokee; on the earliest copies we have. L.B. Raymond & Co. of Cherokee are given as publishers and A.H. Willets was local editor. These early copies begin with May 17, 1872.
It was then called the O’Brien Pioneer. The next fall Mr. Willets became sole owner and when the town of Primghar was started and the county seat was moved from O’Brien to Primghar, he moved his paper to the new town. It was then thought the new railroad being extended westward would come through Primghar.
Associated with Mr. Willets in publishing the newspaper were C.W. Inman, followed by J.R. Pumphrey, then A.G. Willets, son of A.H. Willets and later Warren Walker (father of Mrs. Edith Burns who still lives here).
When the railroad built their line across the north part of the county and many people moved to the new town of Sanborn, the newspaper followed a year later. It was moved here by Walker and Willets in the fall of 1879 and the first issue printed in Sanborn on November 7, 1879. It was still the O’Brien Pioneer but was changed in February, 1882 to The Sanborn Pioneer, which had been its title since and it has been published continuously under that name. It is now in its eighty-second year and is the oldest business concern in Sanborn.
J.H. Wolf, who was the second settler in Franklin township, coming here in 1873, had some printers training in Pennsylvania before coming west and bought the Pioneer in 1883. He, with the help of his sons published the paper until 1898.
A number of editors carried on the newspaper work in the following years. There were F.S. Sage, Geo. J. Clark, W.S. Johnson, W.H. King and B.R. Corkins, C.E. Foley, Richard Clossen, W.E.Hefley, Howard Africa, Currey & Locke, Wm. Larson, Don Reid (now editor of the Iowa Press Association), W.E. Harrington, Carter, Wm. Gibbs. (now editor of the Everly News) and Elmer Mattson. Otis DeVoll published the paper for 18 years from 1934 to 1952.
James A. Wilson, the present owner and publisher fo the Pioneer purchased it December 1, 1952 of Mr. DeVoll. He came here from Sheldon. His family were early settlers of this county and an uncle Elza Wilson, at one time conducted a meat market in Sanborn. Mrs. Wilson is a great-granddaughter of Franklin township’s first settler, Wm. H. Dummett.
Other newspapers have been published here but only for a short time. The Sanborn Journal was published by Warren Walker and R.F. Hiler from 1886 to 1889.
A Sanborn Sun was published for about a year early in the 1900's by B.F. McCormack.