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Front Page » November 1, 2007 » 1907 Historical focus » Anderson Asked an Even $10,000
Published 2,896 days ago

Anderson Asked an Even $10,000

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A hundred years ago in the month of November...
The following article was originally published in a Thursday edition of the Eastern Utah Advocate from November 1907. This is a reprint of that article.

Price Man Came Too High For Fuel Company


Robert Addison Kirker Tells of His Discovery of What Is Now the Camp of Sunnyside and of How He Could Look Deep Into the Ground---Others On Stand

In the Utah Fuel company hearings before Master of Chancery Lewis last week Peter Anderson of Price testified that while he was working for the company as a miner In the Sunnyside mines in 1902, he had been asked by Mine Superintendent Sharp to make an entry for the company in some coal land. Anderson said he would do it, but the matter ended when he put the price of his entry at ten thousand dollars. The superintendent, witness stated, said that they could get all the people they wanted at from $150 to $500, Anderson said that the same proposition was made to his brother in law, A.0. McMullin. but that he too asked more than the company would pay. "Jack" Gentry, also of Price, testified that he was a coal miner and had had several years experience in the coal fields in question. He further testified that none of the land taken. up by the company or its "dummies" as grazing land was grazing land. It was all coal land, said witnesses. The examination of Henry Wade was also completed. and he and the two witnesses above named were discharged.

R. A. Kirker, now of Now Harmony, Utah, and who claims to have made the first discovery of coal at Sunnyside, gave in his testimony Thursday last. The most important feature of his testimony was to the effect that it was upon his information as to the great value of the lands for the coal they contained that the defendant company first employed "dummies" to take them up as grazing lands. His examination showed in substance that he had traced the coal belt some twenty years ago, from Green River westward for a distance of sixty miles to Sunnyside. He was in search of coal that would be the best grade to coke and it was there that he found it. He made a survey of the district before the government survey had been made, in order that he might obtain first rights when the official survey was completed. He testified that he and his associates located some five thousand acres of the land where the coal outcrops appeared; but at the time was well aware of the beds lying under the adjacent land upon which the "dummies" afterward located on in which no outcrops were found. The location was confined to the land taken up only because of the arbitrary ruling of the land department that only lands that had on each subdivision coal outcroppings could be taken up as coal lands.

His testimony covered the period or the sale to Superintendent Sharp and Attorney Bird, representing the Pleasant Valley Coal company, the stock of which is now owned by the Utah Fuel company, of the five thousand acre tract. It was at this time that he pointed out to Sharp and Bird his opinion of the adjoining land which he said first gave them notice of its value. He said that he then and had always considered the land on which there were no outcrops to be of a much greater value than the land upon which the outcrops appeared for the reason that the coal being under the land would of a much better grade because of their greater depth and the consequent protection from the surface action of air, water and wind. His opinion was based upon the thorough examination he had made of the geological conditions that showed coal outcrops on both sides of the covered land lying between the same strata and surrounded by the same conditions. These views the witness said, had been pointed out to Sharp and Bird with the expression that he was as sure that the coal beds continued under the covered land as if he had seem them with the physical eye. Following this interview began the locating of the land by the employed entrymen.

When the hearing was resumed Friday morning last, Kirker was recalled to the stand. His testimony given in answer to Attorney Zane was mostly technical, referring to geologic formations he had found in Utah and other places where his investigations lay. The witness wanted to go on record as saying that while he pointed out to Superintendent Sharp and Major Bird that in his opinion the lands taken up as grazing were valuable only as coal land and that he never pointed out or intimated the method of using "dummies"; or any other fraudulent means of locating them. This he wished to do, he said, because of the construction he had placed a press report of his testimony which he thought implicated him in the fraud. The step was not taken, however, when the attorneys for the government pointed out that no such inference was taken by them.

It is stated that the government officials at Salt Lake City and also the special agents of the department of justice sent to Utah to ferret out evidence of land fraud, are preparing to bring many more cases before the federal grand jury. Unless the present grand jury continues in session for some time to come, which is regarded as impossible, the necessity may arise for the summoning of aspecial grand jury. It is said that many of the cases cannot be prolonged until the sessions of the April jury, because of the fact that the persons-upon whom it is sought to fasten evidence of fraud would be protected by the statute of limitations. Colonel Wallace of the department of justice who 'has attained no small measure of fame as a ferret in land cases, is in Salt Lake City going over the records of the land office. It is said that he will undoubtedly bring before the attorneys who will place the evidence before the grand jury, much that may fasten crime upon many other persons who have escaped the net heretofore.

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