George Bailey Winship was born September 28, 1847, in Saco, Maine, to George D. and Abigail Winship. The family first moved to LaCrosse, Wisconsin, in 1851, only to relocate after six years to LaCrescent in Houston County, Minnesota. It was here that the young Winship bounced from school to manual jobs, in which he generated the skills that would prepare him to venture on the creation of the Grand Forks Herald, one of the city's first newspapers.
He attended district school until his 13th year, then spending the next three years sanding brick molds, and setting type in a local printing office. Prevented from joining the Union Army during the Civil War in 1862 on account of his age, it was not until the following year that he was able to enlist. He became a member of Company A, Second Minnesota Cavalry, which he served until the end of the War. Later, he moved from city to city, employed in various jobs.
One of these jobs was with the U.S. government, spending a year freighting goods beyond the limits of railway tracks, which ended in St. Cloud, Minnesota. Afterwards, Winship joined with a Dr. Schultz at Fort Garry, now Winnipeg, Canada, to work on the Norwester, the only paper north of St. Cloud. He worked on the paper for two years, before political conditions in the area made the printing profession less than desirable. He then relocated to Pembina, North Dakota, to work with the post trader, A.W. Stiles.
During Winship's time in Pembina, he met William Budge, who would later become an important political and economic figure in the Red River Valley. This acquaintance would evolve into a business partnership, monopolizing on the opportunity the Blakeley & Carpenter line offered them. The line was a transportation route of stagecoaches from Breckenridge to Winnipeg. The two formed a stage company erecting a station on the Turtle River, 14 miles north of Grand Forks, North Dakota, where horses could be accommodated and the passengers could rest in the log house. Their business prospered, but in 1873 Winship decided to sell his portion to Budge, relocating to St. Paul to pursue his original trade, type-setting. He served as a compositor on many newspapers in the area and received extra training under Colonel Joseph Wheelock, founder and editor of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
With this experience under his belt, Winship decided to embark on a publishing enterprise. In 1877, he established the Weekly Courier in Caledonia, Minnesota, successfully printing it for two years; however, after this time he packed his bags and possessions in a wagon and started his journey back to Red River Valley. He felt that the time was right for his return and his idea of bringing a newspaper to Grand Forks. This he did, when on June 26, 1879, the Weekly Herald's first issue began to hit the doorsteps or tent steps of its citizens. With the success of the paper and the rapid growth of the town of Grand Forks, restraining the newspaper to a weekly was too difficult; in 1891, Winship began publishing the Grand Forks Daily Herald as a morning edition.
Even under the stress of running the Herald, Winship had his hands in many projects that ranged from an agricultural nature to a political one. A major newspaper publisher for the area, he was also a farmer owning 240 acres three miles outside of Grand Forks. In addition, in 1889 he served as a senator in the state's first general assembly. His and seven others' support made it possible for Governor John Miller to defeat a proposed chartering of the Louisiana Lottery Company in North Dakota. He also served as a registrar for the Grand Forks land office under appointment of President Teddy Roosevelt in 1901. He did not complete his appointment, later resigning in order to devote his time to the expansion of his own business.
Winship continued publication of the Grand Forks Herald until 1911 when he sold it to a local corporation which then consolidated the Herald and the Evening Times, another local newspaper. Upon retiring from the newspaper trade, Winship moved to San Diego, California, where he spent the remainder of his life. He died November 3, 1931, in California. He married Mary Minshall in 1874. The couple had several children who died in infancy and an adopted daughter.
Open for inspection under the rules and regulations of the Elwyn B. Robinson Department of Special Collections.
Beginning in October 2021 and ending in February 2022, parts of this collection have been loaned to the State Historical Society of North Dakota under the Memorandum of Agreement for the Loan of Manuscript and Archival Materials.
The George B. Winship Papers date from 1921 and 1964. Included are two copies of a 45 page typescript titled "Pioneering in North Dakota." The essay tells about the stage coach station Winship and William Budge erected on the Turtle River fourteen miles north of Grand Forks in 1871. In December 1872, Winship sold his share of the business to Budge, and moved to St. Paul, Minnesota, where he took up trade as a printer. He returned to Grand Forks in June 1879, when he founded what eventually became the Grand Forks Herald. Winship wrote "Pioneering in North Dakota" in April 1921.
Also included is a Herald article from August 2, 1964, titled "Herald Founder Won One August Battle in 1889 But Lost Another." The article reports on the political intrigue surrounding Winship and his battles with the "old gang" of North Dakota politicians, chiefly Alexander McKenzie and Nehemiah Ordway.
Finally, the collection contains a photocopy of Winship's autobiography. Events described include the Sibley Expedition of 1864, the Riel Rebellion, the Davy Expedition of 1867, and numerous Red River Valley and Grand Forks happenings. The incomplete autobiography is from 1882. The location of the original is unknown.