Top of page

Newspaper The Sully County Watchman (Clifton, Dakota [S.D.]) 1883-1894 Sully Co. watchman

View All Front Pages

About The Sully County Watchman (Clifton, Dakota [S.D.]) 1883-1894

The Sully County Watchman was a weekly, Saturday paper in Clifton, South Dakota. The paper was started in 1883 and was eight pages of six columns each throughout its 12 years of publication. The first and last pages of each issue were devoted to local news, while the inside six pages consisted of pre-printed content put out by the South Dakota Newspaper Union. These inside pages reprinted state, national, and global news as well as women’s, farmers’, and children’s sections. They also contained short stories, poems, and serials by famous authors such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The audience for the Watchman included all of Sully County, and the paper often printed news from correspondents in the various towns in the area. Commissioner’s reports, political news from the state capital, final proofs on homesteads, court summons, and mortgage sale notices were also published in each issue. The first newspaper in Clifton, the Watchman advertised itself as the “Largest, Oldest, and Best” newspaper in town and the “Official Paper of Sully County”.

The Watchman started out with two editors, John H. Gropengeiser and William C. Walter. When, in 1886, Walter left South Dakota for Chicago, Gropengeiser became the sole editor and proprietor. Gropengeiser held numerous county positions while running the Watchman including probate judge, notary of the public, and postmaster. He was also a member of the South Dakota State Press Association, the treasurer of the Old Settlers’ Association, and a real estate agent. Walter, meanwhile, went on to start the Great South newspaper in the Chicago area.

Staunchly Republican, the Watchman used its influence to promote Republican candidates and ideals while also insulting anyone, especially the editors of other local papers, who held differing opinions. This led to an onslaught of insults and counter-insults flung between editors and reprinted in each newspaper involved. The Watchman went so far as to say that the editor of the Carson Herald talked “very big for a little dried up mummy” and to give the editor of the Onida Journal nicknames such as “Gee Whiz” and “I AM”. One particularly strained relationship was that of the Watchman and the Frost Brothers of the Carson Herald and the Clifton Sun, as all three papers stooped to “mudslinging” on an impressive scale. The Herald and the Sun were later purchased by the Watchman, partially ending the dispute. The Watchman also reprinted stories from other local papers, pointing out flaws in political opinions or errors in news stories. The Watchman was eventually sued for libel, at which time it stated that the “luxury of a libel suit” gave it “a standing up among the leading metropolitan papers.”

TheSully County Watchman was, moreover, a key player in the fight over the location of the county seat from 1886 to 1889, supporting Clifton over Onida. The conflict eventually made it to the State Supreme Court where it was decided that after three separate thefts of the county records and accusations of bribery and corruption on both sides the seat would move to Onida. In 1889, the Watchman followed suit, pleading that its intent had always been to serve Sully County and that it could do so more effectively by relocating to Onida. The paper continued under its original name until July 13, 1894, when it bought out its longtime rival the Onida Journal and changed its title to the Onida Watchman. The Onida Watchman continues to serve the residents of Sully County through the present day.

Provided By: South Dakota State Historical Society – State Archives

About this Newspaper


  • The Sully County Watchman (Clifton, Dakota [S.D.]) 1883-1894

Other Title

  • Sully Co. watchman

Dates of Publication

  • 1883-1894

Created / Published

  • Clifton, Dakota [S.D.] : Walter & Gropengeiser, -1894.


  • -  Clifton (S.D.)--Newspapers
  • -  Onida (S.D.)--Newspapers
  • -  Sully County (S.D.)--Newspapers
  • -  South Dakota--Clifton
  • -  South Dakota--Onida
  • -  South Dakota--Sully County
  • -  United States--South Dakota--Sully--Onida
  • -  United States--South Dakota--Sully--Clifton


  • Newspapers


  • -  Weekly
  • -  Began in 1883.
  • -  -v. 12, no. 13 (July 13, 1894).
  • -  Published in: Clifton, ; and in: Onida, -1894.
  • -  Available on microfilm from: State Archives, South Dakota State Historical Society.
  • -  Archived issues are available in digital format from the Library of Congress Chronicling America online collection.
  • -  Merged with: Onida journal, to form: Onida watchman.
  • -  Description based on: Vol. 1, no. 12 (July 7, 1883).
  • -  Onida journal (DLC)sn 91066987 (OCoLC)24582477
  • -  Onida watchman (DLC)sn 99062859 (OCoLC)41106494


  • v.

Call Number/Physical Location

  • Newspaper

Library of Congress Control Number

  • sn99062858

OCLC Number

  • 41106589

ISSN Number

  • 2577-5391

Succeeding Titles

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 Sully County Watchman Clifton, Dakota S.D. -1894. (Onida, SD), Jan. 1 1883.

APA citation style:

(1883, January 1) The Sully County Watchman Clifton, Dakota S.D. -1894. Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

MLA citation style:

The Sully County Watchman Clifton, Dakota S.D. -1894. (Onida, SD) 1 Jan. 1883. Retrieved from the Library of Congress,