Top of page

Newspaper The Montana Post (Virginia City, Montana Territory [i.e. Mont.]) 1864-1869 Weekly Montana post / Published as: Weekly Montana post

View All Front Pages

About The Montana Post (Virginia City, Montana Territory [i.e. Mont.]) 1864-1869

Originally located in Virginia City, the Montana Post was the first newspaper in the Montana Territory issued as a regular edition, appearing only four months after Montana achieved territorial status. A Republican standard bearer in a gold rush town dominated by Democrats, the Post became a steadfast voice for the Union cause and for “law and order.” Launched on August 27, 1864, the paper continued on a weekly schedule until it ceased publication on June 11, 1869. In March 1868, the editors moved operations to Helena. The Post measured 21 x 31 inches (six columns wide) and was printed on a Washington pattern hand press.

The publishers included John Buchanan (August-September 1864); Daniel Webster Tilton & Co. (September 1864-March 1868); Benjamin R. Dittes (April-July 1868); and the Montana Post Publishing Company (August 1868-June 1869). After the publication of four issues, Buchanan, publisher and first editor, sold the Post to Tilton, who immediately hired Professor Thomas J. Dimsdale, a sickly British school teacher, as editor. Dimsdale’s book, The Vigilantes of Montana or Popular Justice in the Rocky Mountains, first appeared in the newspaper in a serialized format in 1866. Dimsdale’s editorial perspective regularly appeared in news stories announcing suspension of a messenger service due to robberies committed by highwaymen: “When will the time of safety come on our routes so a man can take his hard earnings home? If nothing is done to bring these gents to rope, times will be tougher than they were last winter.” A report of a hanging by vigilantes of a highwayman in the September 24, 1864, edition of the Post concluded: “The whole proceedings were conducted with a solemnity and decency not usually seen in older communities. Among those present at the execution, were many of the worthiest and most influential citizens of the neighborhood.” Dimsdale’s career at the Montana Post was brief; he succumbed to tuberculosis on September 22, 1866, at the age of 35.

Captain James H. Mills, a decorated Union officer, wandered into Virginia City during the summer of 1866 with 10 cents to his name, but he soon attracted the notice of Tilton, who chose Mills as the Post’s third editor. Overseeing the publication of a newspaper featuring long columns, small headlines, and no graphics, Mills relied on reports on gold mining to attract readers, for the population of the territory was largely composed of miners and the merchants and farmers who supplied them. Post-Civil War politics also dominated the news, and the Post’s Republican editors fueled the flames surrounding the issue of “racial equality,” which angered Territorial Democrats, many whom were Confederate sympathizers. A fire in the Helena business district in April 1869 led to a sheriff’s sale of the Post in June. Within a month, Mills founded the New North-West in Deer Lodge. It would be 1873 before Virginia City announced publication of the Madisonian. Reestablished in 1920, the Madisonian is still published in 2010. Mills later entered politics, eventually serving as territorial secretary, collector of internal revenue, and state commissioner of agriculture. Although the Montana Post was only active for a few years, its legacy remains significant today. It was Montana’s first newspaper of record, born out of frontier vigilantism and one of the nation’s last major gold rushes.

Provided By: Montana Historical Society; Helena, MT

About this Newspaper


  • The Montana Post (Virginia City, Montana Territory [i.e. Mont.]) 1864-1869

Other Title

  • Weekly Montana post
  • Published as: Weekly Montana post

Dates of Publication

  • 1864-1869

Created / Published

  • Virginia City, Montana Territory [i.e. Mont.] : J. Buchanan, 1864-1869.


  • -  Helena (Mont.)--Newspapers
  • -  Virginia City (Mont.)--Newspapers
  • -  Montana--Helena
  • -  Montana--Virginia City
  • -  United States--Montana--Lewis and Clark--Helena
  • -  United States--Montana--Madison--Virginia City


  • Newspapers


  • -  Weekly
  • -  Vol. 1, no. 1 (Aug. 27, 1864)-v. 5, no. 11 (June 11, 1869).
  • -  Special "Montana post-fire extra" published May 3, 1869.
  • -  "The first newspaper published in Montana." Cf. Cent. of Mont. journalism.
  • -  "Devoted to the mineral, agricultural and commercial interests of Montana Territory." (noted on issues after July 14, 1866).
  • -  Place of publication varies: Helena, Mont, 1868-1869.
  • -  Editors: John Buchanan, Aug.-Sept. 1864; D.W. Tilton, Sept. 1864-Aug. 1866; Henry N. Blake, Aug.-Dec. 1866; James H. Mills, Jan. 1867-June 1869.
  • -  Publishers: J. Buchanan, Aug.-Sept. 1864; D.W. Tilton & Co., Sept. 1864-Mar. 1868; B.R. Dittes, Apr.-July 1868; Montana Post Pub. Co., Aug. 1868-June 1869.
  • -  Issues for Sept. 2, 1865-1869 called also whole no. 54-240.
  • -  Has occasional supplements.
  • -  Also issued on microfilm from the Montana Historical Society.
  • -  Archived issues are available in digital format as part of the Library of Congress Chronicling America online collection.
  • -  Triweekly eds.: Tri-weekly Republican (Helena, Mont.), 1866, and: Tri-weekly post (Virginia City, Mont.), 1866-1867, and: Virginia tri-weekly post, 1867-1868.
  • -  Daily ed.: Daily Montana post, 1868-1869.


  • volumes

Call Number/Physical Location

  • Newspaper

Library of Congress Control Number

  • sn83025293

OCLC Number

  • 9370618

ISSN Number

  • 2158-8953

Additional Metadata Formats


Rights & Access

The Library of Congress believes that the newspapers in Chronicling America are in the public domain or have no known copyright restrictions. Newspapers published in the United States more than 95 years ago are in the public domain in their entirety. Any newspapers in Chronicling America that were published less than 95 years ago are also believed to be in the public domain, but may contain some copyrighted third party materials. Researchers using newspapers published less than 95 years ago should be alert for modern content (for example, registered and renewed for copyright and published with notice) that may be copyrighted. Responsibility for making an independent legal assessment of an item and securing any necessary permissions ultimately rests with persons desiring to use the item.

The NEH awardee responsible for producing each digital object is presented in the Chronicling America page display, below the page image – e.g. Image produced by the Library of Congress. For more information on current NDNP awardees, see

For more information on Library of Congress policies and disclaimers regarding rights and reproductions, see

Cite This Item

Citations are generated automatically from bibliographic data as a convenience, and may not be complete or accurate.

Chicago citation style:

The Montana Post Virginia City, Montana Territory i.e. Mont. -1869. (Helena, MT), Jan. 1 1864.

APA citation style:

(1864, January 1) The Montana Post Virginia City, Montana Territory i.e. Mont. -1869. Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

MLA citation style:

The Montana Post Virginia City, Montana Territory i.e. Mont. -1869. (Helena, MT) 1 Jan. 1864. Retrieved from the Library of Congress,