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Robert Buchanan Biography


This biography appears on page 474, 477, 479 in "History of Minnehaha County, South Dakota" by Dana R. Bailey 

BUCHANAN, ROBERT, the subject of this sketch was born in Glasgow, Scotland, on the 26th day of March, 1836. He emigrated to Canada in 1842, where he resided until 1863. He graduated from the Canadian University at Toronto. In 1863, he came to Appleton, Wisconsin, and commenced the publication of a newspaper called the Post, which he conducted for several years. He then went to Michigan, but was soon after burned out and lost all his property. 1869 he went to Cherokee, Iowa, and started a newspaper called the Cherokee Times. His outfit was small, and so was the town, but as Cherokee increased its population and commercial importance, the Times' plant also prospered. In short, he made a business success of the enterprise. In 1875 he sold out the Times and came to Sioux Falls, and on the 21st day of February, 1876, purchased the Sioux Falls Pantagraph, and took an active part during the campaign which started a bitter factional fight in local politics. But Mr. Buchanan did not remain long in Sioux Falls, as his Cherokee sale fell through, and he returned there and again took charge of the Times until 1884, when he bought the Gazette at Davenport, Iowa. In May, 1886, he came to Sioux Falls and bought the Leader, which he published for two years, and then sold the plant to W. W. Goddard. The Leader was consolidated with the Argus, as the Argus-Leader, and for a short time Mr. Buchanan had charge of the editorial columns. After severing his connection with this paper, he engaged in the real estate business for several years in connection with his son-in-law, J. H. Gray. In 1890, he was elected to the legislature from this county, and was the caucus nominee of the Republican party for speaker, but the Republicans needed one more vote than they had, to secure his election. During that session of the legislature he was the acknowledged leader of the house. In 1893, he commenced the publication of the South Dakota State Forum, and continued to do so until his death, which occurred on the 22d day of June, 1895.

Mr. Buchanan was in many respects a remarkable man. As a journalist he was well equipped, and the editorial columns of his paper bristled with sarcasm, wit, invectives or logic, as suited him best. He took an active part in politics and was a strong sagacious political manager, and brought great zeal and energy to his political work. In brief he was a strong man, an enterprising citizen, and had a host of admirers and friends who profoundly regretted his death. Such men as Robert Buchanan are rare in communities of much larger size than Sioux Falls, and it is only recording what was remarked by every one at the time of his decease, that Sioux Falls had lost one of her most valued citizens.