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Front Page » April 9, 2009 » Carbon County News » Tumultuous times comes to Advocate as owners experience g...
Published 1,939 days ago

Tumultuous times comes to Advocate as owners experience growing pains


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By RICHARD SHAW
Sun Advocate publisher

Before the Eastern Utah Telegraph was even five years old, it changed hands once again, as S.I. Paradice and J.H. Sarvis parted ways with the paper in January of 1895. The Telegraph, one of the predecessors of today's Sun Advocate, had struggled since being taken over in late 1891 by the Colorado pair.

With that 1895 purchase, paper was renamed the Eastern Utah Advocate, a monicker more familiar to todays Carbon County reading crowd.

On January 25, 1891, it was announced that the paper was now owned by the Advocate Printing Company, with the principals being S.H. Brownlee, who became the business manager, and J. Dexter Smith, who was noted in that days paper as the new editor.

This change took place only a few months after Carbon County had become it's own entity in 1894, breaking away from Emery County. It was a time of great transition as well as some anarchy in the county, including at the newspaper.

By October Brownlee and Smith were in trouble with the community and the law. Both were arrested for trying to burn down their own newspaper office in an effort to cover up the theft of some political money that was within its confines. When they were bailed out of jail, Brownlee took off and could not be found again for some time; Smith was eventually let out of jail and the paper resumed publication. However, in the meantime several issue dates were missed and consequently the papers archives for that time aren't anywhere to be found, because the paper never existed either.

Brownlee finally came back to town about a year later and demanded that he be allowed to take back possession of the paper. While little of the initial clash came to light within the confines of the papers pages, it was apparent that a power struggle then took place between Brownlee and Smith, who was backed by the board of directors. At one point Smith printed that while the paper itself was worth over $2500 (shares held by himself and some stockholders who he referred to as the "board of directors"), he said Brownlee only had $10 of worth in the company.

While not totally spelled out, with his return Brownlee physically took possession of the newspapers offices by force, and stayed there with the help of a man named "Fontaine" who was reported by Brownlee to be a typesetter, but who Smith claimed was really a henchman who was illiterate and did not know a "case from a handcar."

Smith was tempted to remove Brownlee and Fontaine from the building by force but decided it would not be looked upon kindly by the towns people of Price if the two of them got into a gun fight on Main Street. So Smith went to court and actually signed a complaint against Brownlee and his attorney with the Spring Glen justice of the peace, because in his own words in copy of the paper the "Price Justice of Peace had been bulldozed and bluffed around so much that he had resigned his office."

Brownlee and his attorney and two others were arrested for holding property illegally based on the complaint and a trial was held in Helper, because the defendents claimed they could not get a fair trial in Price. Eventually, even after the defendents admitted they were guilty in holding the property by force, Brownlee was found not guilty. It was then that a civil suit took place in a Spring Glen court over ownership. Brownlee eventually was found to owe Smith and the board $100 in damages in 1897. The plant was also to be returned to Smith along with the operation of the paper. However the sheriff at the time took 10 days to get Smith back into the plant, and at that point Brownlee again disappeared, but he left behind destruction. He had mixed up the print so bad that it took days to sort it out (in those days print was set by hand from small bins) and he had also damaged some of the machinery. Some other property was missing too and Smith was truly miffed. He claimed that much of the hiarchy of the community had aided Brownlee, particularly those in law enforcement. He said that the support for Brownlee was provided because the missing man had and would support corrupt elements of the community.

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