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Historic News Editor: Roy DeFrance


Michael Ness


There are many a great newspaper but none quite like the"Pembina New Era."

This paper is over a half a century old and is broughtto the homes of over seven hundred people each week through the fine managementand courtesy of its beloved editor Roy DeFrance.

Roy was one of the nine children born to the parents ofMr. and Mrs. John J. DeFrance. Roy was born in 1875 at Sandrs Lake in thestate of Pennsylvania.

Roy's ancestors date back many years. They came from Francewhere they had lived for many years and then came over to America sometime between 1700 and 1750.

When Roy was a young boy his family moved many times beforeRoy really settled down to live in one place. When Roy was three yearsold his family moved to Arkansas where they lived for several years. Afterliving there for a couple of years the family then moved to the state ofNorth Dakota. This is where Roy first attended school. While Roy was goingto school in North Dakota the family decided it was time to move again sothey packed up and moved to St. Paul, Minnesota. Again Roy went to schoolhere in St. Paul. Here he finished his schooling. While in St. Paul Roy'sdad started a newspaper.

The family then moved from St. Paul to St. Vincent whereRoy's dad continued the newspaper. The title of this paper was the "St.Vincent New Era. Here Roy helped his father with the paper by deliveringthem to the houses. This paper was published once a week for nineteen years,starting in the year 1910.

In the year 1929, Roy's family moved again this time acrossthe Red River back into the state of North Dakota to the town of Pembina. Roy's father took the paper with him to Pembina where he renamed it the"Pembina New Era."

The printing press that Roy's dad used was the last inthe whole state of North Dakota and was one that had to be set by hand.This machine was still used by Roy up to October 1, 1969. The paper wasthen moved and printed by modern presses in Drayton, North Dakota.

As a young man, Roy met young Eva Sherlum whom he latermarried. They were married on December 25, 1900. This young couple hadeight lovely children, five sons and three daughters.

In 1940, Roy's daughter, lone, started helping him printthe paper and get it out in time. Today she is still helping him by collectingads and sending them to be published in the paper at Drayton.

To get the paper out in time every week they had to setthe press by hand on a Friday and a Saturday. They then started printingthe paper on a Monday and Tuesday and had to print eight hundred papersby Wednesday. In 1929, they installed a motor on the press to speed upthe delivery of the paper.

While Roy was editing the paper he had a lot of excitingthings happen to him. In 1965, Roy had a big write up about himself inthe Minneapolis Tribune. A few years later there was another big writeup on him in a Milwaukee paper.

This paper the "Pembina New Era" would probablynot exist if Roy would not have taken over when his father quit. This papertakes a lot of time and effort to get it going.

Without this paper and the editor there would not havebeen any communication in the early nineteen hundreds here in the northernpart of the Red River Valley.

Roy DeFrance should be given a lot of credit for his contributionshere and he deserves it. For as long as we live we will never forget Royand his paper, the "Pembina New Era."


DeFrance, Roy: Interview; January 24, 1970


DeFrance, Roy: Interview; January 24, 1970