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Submitted by admin on Wed, 01/08/2014 - 12:42pm
Frank Eddy would have to be the Sauk Centre Herald's most colorful and famous publisher. While he only owned the Herald from 1903 to 1907, he worked as a printer's devil in the early years of the publication. He also submitted columns all his life.
He was the first native-born Minnesotan to be elected to Congress, representing the Sixth District as a Republican from 1894 to 1902. He held several state and national Republican party positions, worked for the Department of Commerce promoting immigration.
Eddy came to Sauk Centre as an eleven-year-old boy in a wagon train in the fall of 1867. It took his family 21 days to get here from Owatonna with 10 of those days on the rough and wild Timber Road from St. Cloud.
Eddy wrote a guest column for the Herald in 1928, recounting the journey on the singletrack trail through a thick forest with herds of deer, an occasional bear and howling wolves at night.
"When we reached St. Cloud we unwisely took the Timber Road for Sauk Centre expecting to cut off several miles of the journey, but really considerable time was lost for the road consisted of a single track, worn hub-deep by constant travel.
"Wind was constantly blowing trees and limbs across the track, which had to be cleared away. We mired down every mile or two.
" Burned out settler's cabins savaged by Indians a few years earlier were scattered here and there, grim reminders of that awful tragedy. Once a huge black bear disputed our passage. As soon as the stars came out the eerie howling of the wolves sounded their cry and we children plunged into our common bed and drew the covers over our heads even if we had to leave our feet sticking out."
They also stopped to graze their oxen, greasing the hubs with snake and frogs. Crossing the Sauk River meant waiting for a day or more for a ferry to ford them across. The ferry tariff ran two bits for a wagon and team, ten cents an animal and five cents for a foot passenger.
Eddy said the wagon train stopped at the "Mile Bridge" crossing just outside the city with a wide view of the Sauk Prairie.
"The entire company gazed spell-bound at the vision of enchantment and my father who was of a poetic nature instinctively bared his long graying locks and reverently shouted a short prayer, "Surely it is the Garden of the Lord,'" remembered Eddy.
He added, "I have visited many spots in many lands since that time famous for their scenic beauty, but I thought that "Sauk Prairie" with the picturesque hamlet of Sauk Centre placed in its midst was the most beautiful and picturesque spot my eyes had ever rested upon."
The Eddy family settled in a small shack with a dirt floor near the river for the winter, cutting cordwood and trapping muskrats to live on. Young Frank found work at the new Herald office cleaning up and sorting type. Eventually, the family moved to a farm west of town.
After attending common school in Sauk Centre, Eddy became a rural-school teacher, a land examiner for the Northern Pacific Railroad and a clerk of district court in Pope County from 1884 to 1893 before running for Congress.
His race for Congress wasn't an easy one. Times were tough in the 1890s with drought, a grasshopper plague and a depression hurting farmers. The Democratic Party was very weak as the more radical Populist Party held farmers support.
His campaign ran out of money several times. While campaigning in Crookston he had no train fare home so John Pillsbury wired him a donation for "car fare and supper."
One of his biggest supporters was a former drummer boy in the Civil War who would rally his followers with a drum roll before each speech.
One talk was interrupted by a dozen Ku Klux Klan members dressed in black robes. Eddy refused to answer the leader who heckled him with questions. The Civil War veteran approached the leader, pulled off his hood and punched him to the floor. He then picked up the heckler and threw him out the window.
"Eddy wrote, "I don't condone violence but it is good to see someone willing to fight for his beliefs."
He was called the homeliest and most loved Congressman in Washington. He was once called two-faced by an opponent to which he stole a line from Abraham Lincoln. "If I had another face, do you think I would use this one?"
Eddy wrote two booklets, one on his first Congressional campaign and the other a collection of campaign advice.
On political speaking he said, "If you want to reach people's hearts, you have to speak from the heart."
Eddy saw his ownership of the Herald as a pulpit to expound on his political beliefs. He quickly realized he didn't have the business talent to run the newspaper, so he sold it to A. M. Wells after four years.
He returned to the Herald in 1916 to work as editor for Asa Wallace. He produced more opinion than the Herald had room to print.
Wallace asked him, "Frank, if you would make your editorials a third of a column instead of two columns long the Herald would be the most widely quoted country newspaper in the country." To which Eddy answered, "If I could say in a third of a column what it takes me two columns to write, I wouldn't be making soup bone wages at the Herald but taking my place with some of the highest paid editorial writers of the country."
He eventually did just that, writing for the Minneapolis Tribune, freelancing and selling his ideas to an editorial service. He also traveled the nation and Europe for the Soo Line Railroad and the Minnesota Department of Immigration writing and speaking on the virtues and opportunities available in Minnesota.
In 1916 Eddy campaigned for his Sauk Centre friend, Dr. J. A. DuBois, a Democrat running for Congress against Charles Lindbergh, Sr.
DuBois wanted to know why Eddy got more applause than he did.
Eddy replied, "Well, Doctor you make a very scholarly address; you appeal to the voters' brains. This is a mistake. In my political talks I appeal to the voters' guts and experience has taught me that the average voter has more guts than brains."
Eddy once spoke at a Norwegian American Conference in Chicago with Democrat William Jennings Byran. It was Byran's practice to follow and contradict Republican speakers. Eddy fooled him, giving his entire address in Norwegian.
Eddy died on Jan. 13, 1928, and was buried next to his wife Francis at Greenwood Cemetery in Sauk Centre after a simple Masonic funeral service.
In the last piece he wrote for the Herald in 1928 he said, "The Herald has been an institution and a mighty one, furnishing a true mirror of current events and has established a strong and virile influence not only in the city where it circles throughout the state."
Editor Asa Wallace said Eddy set a high standard for other editors and citizens for many years to come.
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