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Manuscripts by Subject - Family / Local History - #10006

Title: Clement A. Lounsberry Papers

Dates: 1863-1924

Collection Number: 10006

Quantity: .5 feet

Abstract: Literary manuscripts, military documents, reminiscences, photographs, receipts, speeches, ephemera, and correspondence concerning military service in the Civil War, settlement in the Dakota Territory in the 1870s, appointment as Postmaster of Bismarck, ND, publication of the Buford Tribune and Lounsberry's book on the history of North Dakota, land speculation near Buford, and activities as a special agent for the General Land Office. Collection includes papers of Lounsberry's secretary, Nellie Brightman, relating to the genealogy of her family. Correspondents include Alexander McKenzie, William R. Mumby, and William Folwell. Lounsberry was Postmaster of Bismarck, ND, newspaper publisher, founder of the Bismarck Tribune, and author.

Provenance:  The State Historical Society of North Dakota acquired the Clement A. Lounsberry Papers as a gift from Clement A. Lounsberry in 1895 and 1926.  Juliann Henriksen prepared the inventory to the Clement A. Lounsberry Papers in February 1984.

Property rights:  The State Historical Society of North Dakota owns the property rights to the collection.

Copyrights:  Copyrights to materials in this collection remain with the donor, publisher, author, or author's heirs.  Researchers should consult the 1976 Copyright Act, Public Law 94-553, Title 17, U. S. Code and an archivist at this repository if clarification of copyright requirements is needed.

Access:  This collection is open under the rules and regulations of the State Historical Society of North Dakota.

Citation:  Researchers are requested to cite the collection title, collection number, and the State Historical Society of North Dakota in all footnote and bibliographic references.


Clement Augustus Lounsberry was born on March 27, 1843 in Newville, Dekalb County, Indiana.  He was orphaned at the age of six and spent his youth in Michigan, working as a farm laborer during the summer.  He enlisted as a private in Co. I, First Michigan Volunteer Infantry, at the outbreak of the Civil War. Shot and captured at the First Battle of Bull Run, he was a prisoner at Libby Prison in Richmond, Virginia for nearly a year. In June 1862 he was exchanged, mustered out, and immediately reenlisted in another Michigan infantry unit. Rising swiftly through the ranks he mustered out in 1865 as a commissioned lieutenant colonel with the brevet rank of colonel.

After the war, Lounsberry and his associates purchased a townsite in Minnesota and founded the town of Fairmont.  He served as county auditor for several terms.  Lounsberry's first venture in newspaper publishing was the Martin County Atlas.  In 1870 he moved the newspaper to Wells, Minnesota and changed the name to the Wells Atlas.  Two years later he accepted a position as an editor for the Minneapolis Tribune specializing in political and legislative reporting.

Interested in the settlement of Dakota Territory, Lounsberry filed a soldiers' homestead claim near Edwinton in the spring of 1873.  He decided to establish a new weekly newspaper, the Bismarck Tribune.  It was Lounsberry who broke the news of the Little Big Horn via a 50,000 word story dictated over the telegraph wires.

Lounsberry was appointed Postmaster of Bismarck in 1876.  Being a staunch Republican, he resigned from the postoffice when President Cleveland was elected.  During Harrison's administration he served as a special agent of the General Land Office.

In 1884 Lounsberry sold his interests in the Tribune to his partner, Marshall Jewell.  Lounsberry traveled to Washington, D.C. with hopes of appointment as Dakota Territory Governor.  Realizing the hopelessness of the situation, he returned to Bismarck and published a new weekly newspaper, the Bismarck Journal.  He sold his interest in the Journal which had evolved into the daily Evening Journal, in December 1885.

Hoping to capitalize on the settlement of the area near the old Fort Buford site, Lounsberry purchased land at the new townsite of Buford and established a newspaper, the Buford Tribune.  There were problems with subdividing the townsite and without new settlers Buford stagnated.  Lounsberry gradually sold his interests at Buford.

Lounsberry left the state in 1905 to work as a clerk in the General Land Office headquarters at Washington, D.C. He wrote two books on North Dakota history, North Dakota: History and People, 1917, and Early History of North Dakota, 1920.  He retired from government service in 1922.

Lounsberry was married three times.  His first wife was Lucretia Haskins and they had five children.  His second wife was a widow named Sarah Jane Mason Brownson.  Lounsberry married Libbie E. Guyton in 1923. He died in Washington, D.C. on October 2, 1926 and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Plains Talk, Vol. 2, No. 3, Summer 1971.
Fargo Forum, 6 October 1926. 
Bismarck Tribune, 6 October 1926.


The Clement A. Lounsberry Papers date from 1863 to 1924 and measure one-half foot and one oversize folder.  The papers consist of personal papers and miscellaneous papers.

The personal papers series dates from 1863 to 1922, occupies eight folders, and consists of correspondence; military records; Bismarck Postmaster records; special agent of the General Land Office records; Buford, North Dakota records; and miscellaneous manuscripts.  The correspondence is arranged alphabetically and relates to business concerns.  The military records consist of muster rolls, correspondence, special orders, a pass, discharge papers, and a voucher.  The Bismarck Postmaster records consist of correspondence and his appointment.  Special agent of the General Land Office records consist of correspondence and his appointment.  The Buford, North Dakota records consist of correspondence and receipts concerning land speculation in that area.  The miscellaneous manuscripts consist of correspondence, an invoice, cancelled checks, an inventory, funeral bill for Wells Lounsberry, a certificate, a township survey, an article submitted for publication in The Record, and essays relating to the military, religion, and the American flag.

The miscellaneous papers series dates from 1867 to 1924, occupies four folders, and consists of the papers of Nellie Brightman, Pembina County records, ephemera, and newspaper clippings. Nellie Brightman assisted Lounsberry as his secretary.  Her papers consist of research notes and correspondence. The Pembina County records consist of Board of City Commissioners minutes and a land declaratory statement. The ephemera consists of pamphlets, ballots, copyright certificates, greeting cards, invitations, and membership cards.  The newspaper clippings relate to the early history of North Dakota.


Series I.                Personal Papers, 1863-1922, Box 1 Consists of correspondence; military records; Bismarck Post-master records; special agent of the General Land Office records; Buford, North Dakota records; and miscellaneous manuscripts.

Series I.                Miscellaneous Papers, 1867-1924, Box 1 Consists of Nellie Brightman papers, Pembina County records, ephemera, and newspaper clippings.


Series I. Personal Papers

Box 1:
1 Correspondence - General       1893-1922                           
2 Correspondence - Charles Cavileer       1896-1902                                           
3 Military Records            1863-1916                           
4 Bismarck Postmaster 1876; 1882; 1912-1916                   
5 Special Agent - General Land Office     1889-1897; 1920                               
6 Buford, North Dakota                 1900-1905                           
7 Miscellaneous Manuscripts      n.d.                       
8 Miscellaneous Manuscripts      1876-1917                           

Series II. Miscellaneous Papers

9 Nellie Brightman Papers            1913-1914                           
10 Pembina County Records       1867; 1870                          
11 Ephemera     1898-1924                           
12 Newspaper Clippings                1892-1905                                                           


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