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"History of Eau Claire County Wisconsin, 1914, Past and Present"

Chapter  37 - The Newspapers of the County

Norwegian Newspaper Reform

(-as transcribed from pages 504 - 506)

Norwegian Newspaper Reform. In the eighties several attempts were made to establish a Norwegian newspaper at Eau Claire. The last one, "Arbeideren" (The Workman) was about ready to give up when a "temperance wave" struck the city about 1886. Among the converts was George Alfred Engelstad. He was a well educated man, but a hard drinker. He had done editorial work on the "Arbeideren," and when he changed his views and attitude on the liquor question the paper also changed. This brought Mr. Engelstad in touch with Mr. Ole Br. Olson, at that time publishing a small monthly temperance paper at Chicago. The two agreed to consolidate their publications and started a six-page weekly, "Reform." In 1891 a company was formed — the Dremad Publishing Company — with a capital of two thousand five hundred dollars. Mr. Engelstad returned to Norway in 1890 and Mr. Olson turned over his interests to the company. He was editor and business manager and worked hard. In 1896 Mr. Waldemar Ager engaged as business manager and Mr. Olson continued as editor. In 1903 Mr. Olson died and Mr. Ager was engaged to fill his place. Mr. Alfr. Gabrielsen was manager for one year in 1901, but since that time Mr. Ager has served both as editor and manager.

The capital stock of the company has been increased to four thousand dollars. They have published many books, and the company has its own plant and linotype machine. The circulation of the paper is at present five thousand seven hundred. The company also publishes a children's paper, the Monthly "Lyngblomsten," edited by Rev. Olav Repsval, of Chetak[sic]. The founder of the paper, Ole Br. Olson, was born at Christiania, Norway, May 19, 1857, and emigrated to Chicago in 1877, where he lived until he moved to Eau Claire in 1887. He was the leading spirit in the movement for total abstinence and prohibition among his countrymen. He was a brilliant speaker and a good writer, and was known everywhere where Norwegians had settled. He made a trip to Norway in 1895 and lectured in that country. He was usually mentioned as "The Norwegian, John B. Gough."

Waldemar Ager, his successor, was born in Norway, in 1869, and came to America when six years old. He worked in various printing offices in Chicago until 1892, when he came to Eau Claire to take charge of the "Reform" printing office. Was later engaged as bookkeeper and in 1896 became business manager. He is well known as an author, having published half a dozen books, two novels, three collections of tales and short stories, and one which contains literary essays. He has also found time to write for papers and magazines both in Norway, Denmark and in this country. One of his books is translated into English, two of them are published both in Norway and the United States. He is a leading member of the Norwegian-Danish Press Association, and served as its president for three terms; a member of the Eau Claire library board six years; member of Anglo-American one hundred years anniversary peace committee; elected honorary member of the Thualian Club at the State University of Minnesota; secretary of the Norwegian Society of America, etc., and is well known as a lecturer.

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