SIOUX CITY | When he was a kid, George D. Perkins expected to become a farmer near his hometown of Baraboo, Wis.
If he had pursued that dream, the history of Sioux City and its newspaper would have read much differently. Instead, he and his brother, Henry, purchased the weekly Journal in 1869 and a year later turned it into an award-winning daily.
Four generations of the Perkins family owned and published the paper for more than a century, from 1869 to 1971, when it was sold.
George Perkins went on to a political career, including a stint in the Iowa Senate and 12 years in the U.S. Congress. Each generation of the family became involved in civic affairs and became community leaders.
Perkins’ newspaper career began in 1860, at the age of 20, when he and Henry moved to Cedar Falls, Iowa, to publish the Gazette.
In 1866, the brothers moved to Chicago, where they opened a gummed label house. George Perkins became an agent of the Northwestern Associated Press. In 1869, a friend stopped in Chicago on his way home to Washington, D.C., from Sioux City and told the brothers of the opportunity to buy the Journal from Mahlon Gore.
They bought the weekly in April 1869. Two months later, George Perkins married Louise Julien, and they moved to Sioux City. Eventually Henry Perkins and his wife sold his printing business in Chicago and also moved to Sioux City.
The first issue of the daily Journal was published on April 19, 1870.
But being editor and publisher wasn't enough for George Perkins. In 1873, he was elected on the Republican ticket to represent Northwest Iowa in the Iowa Senate. He served as commissioner of immigration for the state of Iowa for two years, and in 1882, President Chester A. Arthur named him U.S. marshal for the Northern District of Iowa. He served until 1885, when President Grover Cleveland ousted Republican office holders. He served in Congress for 12 years and lost a highly contested bid for Iowa governor in 1906. He died in 1914.