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Front Page » August 18, 2009 » Carbon County News » The Sun also rises in Carbon County's early days
Published 2,243 days ago

The Sun also rises in Carbon County's early days

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Fred T. Waltrous, a newsman of note at the time, took over management of the Eastern Utah Advocate on July 3, 1913. He had been the owner of the Duchesne Record for some time before he came to Price and he was looking for a business to run, preferably a newspaper.

Robert Crockett and his brother John, had at the time, became seemingly tired of running the Advocate. Attacks upon them and controversy had swirled for years, largely due to the works of editors and owners of the Carbon County News. Neither brother generally commented on what was said in the other papers in the area, but it had to affect them even if they did not read those attacks directly. Waltrous, while not the outright new owner of the paper to begin with, was to run it under a lease agreement, which presumably would make him the owner one day.

In the issue before Waltrous took over Robert Crockett wrote, "With this issue the writer has put in 15 years in Price and nearly 36 years in the newspaper profession. At times the work has been most pleasant. At other times it has had its rough places, but as a whole, it is looked back to with much pleasure by this writer...Mr. Waltrous is a capable journalist and business man, and in retiring, we wish to commend him to the Advocate family in particular, and the newspaper public in general...Au revoir, but not goodbye."

That final line, in what appeared to be his final piece in the paper, would be prophetic. While Crockett's finishing piece almost made it sound like he was leaving Price, he had many other business interests in the area and did not move on.

Waltrous immediatelly went to work changing the newspaper. He took it from a tab style which the Crocketts had been using to a broad sheet paper with a six column layout. He changed the front page, most notably by putting a cartoon in the middle of the front page in every issue. By the end of the year Waltrous had made a complete change in the Advocate.

His affiliation with the Uintah Basin showed quite prominently, as he dropped most of the news coming out of Sanpete County and instead started printing stories that were associated with Vernal, Myton and Duchesne.

This move may have weakened the papers position some, because the natural affiliations that locals had with Emery and Sanpete counties was much stronger than that with the basin communities.

That was despite the fact that a lot of the transit of goods and materials bound for the basin ran through Carbon county due to the railroad's presense in Carbon.

For instance in the December 12, 1913 issue of the paper three of the seven stories on the front page were about the Uintah Basin. Inside much of the paper was boiler plate coming from national new services, with little local snippets here and there.

Competition from the Carbon County News also began to take its toll. As the News got stronger and stronger, their local ties and somewhat better news coverage of the area began to eat away at the Advocate's base. Despite both paper's county wide appeal, Price was the center of both their worlds and with only 2,000 residents it was a tough go.

By 1915 Waltrous was defaulting on his payments to Crockett. Relations between the two became more and more frosty as he fell farther behind and Crockett put on pressure to pay up. Finally, Crockett sued Waltrous and what resulted was a mess.

Waltrous could not hang onto the paper's office or presses, but because of some wording in the lease/buyout agreement Waltrous was able to retain the name Eastern Utah Advocate.

The Crockett's now had their newspaper back, but they didn't have the name. Waltrous on the other hand, had the name and no newspaper, though he still planned to publish another newspaper in the area under the Advocate banner. Eventually, realizing that the areas advertising and subscription base was too small, he cut his losses by selling the name of the original Price newspaper to the very people who had worked to destroy it, the Carbon County News. Immediatelly W. C. Benfer, the owner of the News changed his papers name to the News-Advocate and made the claim that they now were the direct decendent of the first newspaper in the county.

To make matters worse, when the Crocketts were able to enter their old offices for the first time they found that the linotype machine that was used to set the paper was gone. Waltrous had walked out with it his last day of running the Advocate.

Through a fidelity bond that Waltrous had agreed to however, he finally brought the machine back, but who actually owned the machine was not determined for several months by a court. In the end it stayed with the Crocketts.

Now the Crocketts had the paper, its facilities, and its subscription list back but no name to call it by.

No one knows why but Robert Crockett, now assuming more and more a role with the paper, as his brother John seemed to fade into the background, selected The Sun as the new name. But the paper, regardless of the name, was basically the same as the Advocate had been when they published it before.

The first issue under the previous publishers came out on June 4, 1915. Meanwhile, somehow, Waltrous continued to print the Eastern Utah Advocate for almost another month (final issue July 2) before the name was turned over to Benfer.

No issues of this paper can now be found for review.

Consequently, in a way, the Crocketts were competing against themselves for the month of June, 1915.

This is one in a series of articles about the history of the Sun Advocate that will run periodically through 2011 when the paper celebrates its 120th anniversary. Information for the stories comes from the Utah Digital Newspapers archives, UPA... A Century Later by Jim Cornwell and from A history of the Sun Advocate (masters thesis) by Edith May Allred.

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