Belle Plaine's Oldest Continuing Business
MN’s Oldest Family-Owned Newspaper in Continuous Operation
Joseph Edward Townsend issued the first edition of the Belle Plaine Herald at age 29 in January, 1882. Since then the Herald has remained in the Townsend family and is considered to be one of the oldest family-run newspapers left in the state of MN.
Joseph’s son Daniel Charles (D.C.) was born the year the Herald was born so it was no surprise that he started his career at the newspaper at the age of six when his father made him learn the alphabet by setting type. In 1905 the masthead of the Herald changed to list J.E Townsend as publisher and D.C Townsend, editor.
D.C. took over as both editor and publisher of the Herald after his father’s death in 1938. His wife Pearl became involved with the paper during World War II when the Herald’s Linotype operator was drafted and she had to take over running the typesetting machine. Pearl continued to work for the Herald part-time up through the 1980s while in her early 90s and is most known for her phoning homes asking, “Do you have any news for the Herald?”
D.C.’s son, Charles Edward also started work at the paper at an early age and became the Herald’s associate editor in the early 1960s. Since his father’s passing in 1969 Ed has become the third-generation Editor and Publisher of the Herald and is still at the helm.
D.C.’s daughter Dorothy Townsend Casserly was a Columnist and Associate Editor of the Herald for most of the 1970s and won many awards for her writing.
C. Edward’s family have all worked at the newspaper at one point or another and his eldest son Daniel is still involved, currently running the printing, production and photography side of the business.