The Dexter (Iowa) Sentinel

J. J. Davies, who dressed niftily and with a tall silk hat, arrived in the new town of Dexter, Iowa, in 1871 and started publishing the Dexter Herald–a four-page, seven-column sheet, with type set by hand. It was one of the first papers established in Dallas County.

At a price of $2 per year, it eventually reached almost 2000 subscribers, being the first newspaper west of Des Moines, with nothing but the Stuart Locomotive as competition.

In 1881, new management changed the name to The Sentinel.

Sentinel1 (2)

In 1900 and 1901, The Daily Sentinel was published daily–four pages of mostly advertising with a few lines of news.

Sentinel3 (2)
Ernest P. Reynolds was the editor of The Dexter Sentinel in 1902.

In 1907, the Ross Brothers, then the publishers, installed a Hoe press and a large gasoline engine for a complete power plant.

Sentinel2 (2)

1935 (3)

Keith Neal, son of O. S. and Nellie Neal, was the editor from 1920-1922, when he moved to Des Moines to become editor of the Beaverdale News.

L. S. Heins published the Dexter newspaper the longest, from 1944-1960.

In later years The Dexter Sentinel was published jointly with The Redfield Review, and eventually became The Dexfield Review Sentinel.

History of Dexter, Iowa–1968 Centennial book, pages 25-28.


The Dexter Museum has bound copies of the Dexter newspapers. They are fragile.

16 comments

    • “Museum season” goes through October, so you only have to slog through one more oldie here on Thursdays. I’m amazed at the stories behind old buildings we take for granted. During the 1980s I got to look through old newspapers in Sentinel office, hoping to find my mother’s family in them. Depression days stories. Yes, indeed, just waiting for me to start writing those stories even next month!

      • I disliked history all the way through college! Then I discovered genealogy. History is people. I’ve been hooked ever since. I chased ancestors until our son was born in 1974, then did Den Mother, school and church volunteer. But I began to put flesh on those ancestor charts. The stories! And how fun it’s been to share those.

  1. You have such passion! I love that. It changes everything…what might have been boring, becomes fascinating. Facts are only facts until you bring them to life. It is like a charcoal drawing…when you add color, a new picture emerges. The charcoal is more remarkable when you see it from a new perspective. It is not that one is better than the other; you look at the picture from two different points of view. It all comes down to your viewpoint, yes? Even the smallest details can be so very important…you have to be looking. You need that passionate heart and the passionate eye to discern what is there in front of you.

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