April 23, 2012
Theodore Roosevelt arrived in the Badlands of North Dakota on September 7, 1883. The town of Little Missouri, North Dakota, would shortly be eclipsed by its upstart neighbor, Medora. The latter was named for the wife of the area’s newest resident, the Marquis de Mores, who was building the new town up around a meat packing plant.
Arthur T. Packard, or A.T. Packard, came into the Little Missouri community and started a newspaper, The Bad Lands Cow Boy, in February 1884. Packard, originally from Chicago and a former editor of the Bismarck Tribune, must have seen a need for a news office in the growing western community. He also noted, “The Cow Boy is not published for fun, but for $2 a year.” There was money to be made in the towns being formed along the western edges of the Dakota Territory, and Packard, along with other editors flocking to the boom towns of the west, wanted a piece of it.
It was truly a boon for Theodore Roosevelt during his time in the Badlands that the newspaper existed. Not one for saloons, Roosevelt would spend his free time in the offices of the Cow Boy, discussing news and opinions with the young newspaperman and anyone else who stopped by the offices. Roosevelt also stored his handgun at the newspaper whenever he came to town, convinced by Packard that carrying it in the town was an invitation for trouble. It was also Packard who, while riding the train with TR on July 4, 1886, famously predicted that he would become president one day.
The Bad Lands Cow Boy, Volume 1, No. 27, August 7, 1884. From the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation.
Packard published the Cow Boy until January 1887. Devastating blizzards in the winter of 1886-87 decimated cattle herds in the region. As the cattle ranching boom went bust, a fire destroyed the offices of the newspaper, and along with many of the town's citizens, Packard left Medora.
Jenkinson, Clay S. Theodore Roosevelt in the Dakota Badlands: An Historical Guide, 2006.
Collins, Ross F. “Cowboys and Cow Town Newspapers in Dakota Territory,” From Reality to Rodeo: Dakota Cow Papers and the Making of an Icon.