The Prairie Pioneer has its roots in the first newspaper established in Campbell County, Dakota Territory—the Campbell County Courier at LaGrace, the first county seat. The Courier’s first issue was dated Oct. 26, 1883, and it was published by C.W. Starling and F.E. Devan.
When the county seat was moved to Mound City, the paper moved along with it.
Over the years, the county was home to several weeklies, such as the Campbell County Progress, the Pollock Progress, the Mound City Monitor and the Prairie Picayune.
During World War II, publication of the Pollock Progress was ended, leaving the county with two papers, the Mound City Monitor and the Prairie Picayune. Later, those two papers merged.
Pollock was without its own paper from the 1940s until the first issue of the Pollock Pioneer was published on Jan. 5, 1956. Eldredge L. MacKay and his wife, Jessye (Pollock), moved to Pollock when it was proposed that the town site be moved to higher ground to make way for the Oahe Reservoir. The Pioneer’s building was the first erected in the new town. Jessye was the granddaughter of the original town’s founder, R.Y. Pollock.
The Pollock Pioneer was the first newspaper in South Dakota to be published by offset, and MacKay, who died of cancer in 1976, was honored posthumously be being named to the South Dakota Newspaper Hall of Fame.
As Eldredge’s health deteriorated, his son, James MacKay, returned to help operate the newspaper and became publisher upon his father’s death.
In August of 1979, James purchased the Prairie Picayune in Herreid, combining it with the Pollock Pioneer to form the Prairie Pioneer. He later purchased the Selby Record and Java Herald. On Oct. 1, 1987, Allan and Leah Burke of Denver, Colo., purchased the three papers from MacKay. They later combined the Selby and Java papers and sold that part of the business.
Today, the Prairie Pioneer is owned by Publisher and Editor Leah Burke. Her husband, Allan, is semi-retired and is the Publisher Emeritus. Leah is also publisher of the Emmons County Record at Linton, N.D.