Alfred O. Andersson

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For those of a similar name, see Alfred Anderson (disambiguation).

Alfred Oscar Andersson (1874-1950) was the publisher of the Dallas Dispatch and, briefly, of the Dallas Dispatch-Journal, daily afternoon newspapers of general circulation published in Dallas, Texas.

Andersson was born in Liverpool, England on December 10, 1874 to Alfred Carolus Andersson, a cotton broker, and Elizabeth Falk Andersson. The family moved to Kansas City, Missouri in the early 1880s. Andersson's father died there soon afterward, and his mother moved the family back to Liverpool and then, in 1884, to Weimar, Germany, where Andersson attended school for five years. His mother married Dr. Henry J. Lampe in 1889 and the family returned to Kansas City. She died in San Antonio, Texas, in 1931 at age seventy-nine, and Dr. Lampe died in 1910.

Andersson’s career in newspapers began during his teenage years when he worked at odd jobs around the shop where his stepfather published a German-language newspaper. He wrote and edited campus publications while a student at Princeton University from 1893 to 1895 and then returned to Kansas City to take a job on the Kansas City World, a Scripps-McRae[1] newspaper. He then moved on to reporting and editing jobs on Scripps papers in St. Louis, Missouri and Chicago, Illinois.

In 1898 Andersson reported on the Spanish-American War from Cuba and Puerto Rico for the United Press, which then appointed him manager of the UP’s Kansas City bureau. In 1906 he scouted Texas for a suitable location to start a newspaper for Scripps-McRae. According to newspaper lore, he stopped at a downtown Dallas drugstore, noticed it sold fine cigars, and concluded “if those are the cigars the men here favor, this must be a good town.” As he contemplated starting a paper in Dallas he learned that another man was in town with the same idea and likewise with Scripps-McRae’s tentative promise to back it. Confronting Col. Milton A. McRae, he was told that Scripps-McRae’s support would go to the man who got a paper on the street first; Andersson then hastily threw together the four-page first issue of the Dallas Dispatch, deployed boys to sell the paper on the street, and the Dispatch became the Scripps paper in Dallas.

In 1911 he inaugurated the Houston Press,[2] a Scripps-McRae newspaper in Houston, Texas. While editing the Press he retained editorship of the Dispatch and continued to live in Dallas. With a 1916 reorganization of Scripps-McRae properties in the South, he became editor of the Memphis Press in Memphis, Tennessee,[3] the Denver Express in Denver, Colorado, and the Oklahoma News in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

In 1919 Andersson moved to Cleveland, Ohio, to become general manager of the Newspaper Enterprise Association, a Scripps feature service. In 1921 he left the newspaper business for the first time and moved to San Antonio to enter the cotton business. His absence from newspapering was short-lived, as he returned to Dallas a year later and once again became publisher of the Dispatch, a position he held until retirement in 1937. But a year later Karl Hoblitzelle[4] and others purchased the Dispatch and combined it with the Dallas Journal (which they simultaneously acquired from A. H. Belo Corporation, publisher of The Dallas Morning News) to create the afternoon Dallas Dispatch-Journal, and induced the reluctant Andersson to become its publisher. Andersson finally retired in December 1938.

Andersson was tall and spare and had a reserved manner and patrician features. He was described as "essentially a kind man, although his was not the heartiness associated with the back-slapper." His newspapers tended to be crusading and somewhat sensational, often publishing several editions daily.

His first wife was Dorothy Smart, who died in 1911. Two years later he married Ruth H. Harper, whose father, Jacob Chandler Harper, was general counsel for the Scripps-McRae newspapers.

Suffering from gradual circulatory failure and failure to completely recover from bronchial pneumonia, Andersson was stricken on a cruise and returned to the La Jolla, California, home of his wife's deceased parents, which the Anderssons had been using as a summer home and where he died on May 11, 1950 at age seventy-five. He had three children, one of whom, a son, was editor of the Memphis Press-Scimitar.[3]

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