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Front Page » September 3, 2013 » Carbon County News » Wild West journalism was the standard in 1907 Price
Published 364 days ago

Wild West journalism was the standard in 1907 Price


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By RICHARD SHAW
Sun Advocate publisher

Journalistic standards have changed in the 106 years since the following article was printed in the Eastern Utah Advocate. Personal opinion and outright calumny in news articles are taboo today, but back then that spicy, biased

reportage was commonplace.

On May 27, 1907, only a few weeks after Butch Cassidy's famous Castle Gate robbery, the Eastern Utah Advocate reported a crime wave that took place the week before. While one could write about the goings on in the county that week, the language used and the editorializing about the situation that went on in the paper that day is difficult to describe.

So instead of summarizing it, we are printing the direct copy that appeared that day. It is a flavor of the time, not only about the goings-on but also about the way people thought and how things were reported. The column, titled "Robberies and Hold ups" appeared on the front page of that issue of the paper. Information in parenthesis is from the author.

***

A class of very hard men are just now passing through Price and they are evidently getting their work as they go along.

Early in the week, two men giving their names as Billy or "Kid" Dalton and Tom McKeone arrived here on the midnight train. They were probably ahead of the baggage car. When they struck town, the took a room at the Hotel Clarke and were given a bed in a room where there are three beds. Another stranger was sleeping there and also Earnest Lee the stage driver.

Early in the morning the stranger aforementioned saw one of the two toughs go through Leo's pants and on it's being discovered Lee held the man in the room until town marshal A.J. Lee arrived. The men were placed under arrest and went to trial before Justice P.I. Olsen. (Courts were a little swifter in those days).

The burglars in some way secured the services of M.P. Braffet who through some unknown means was recently styled (an) attorney, and he went to work for the bold thieves with the acumen of a trickster and do all the dirty shyster work he could devise and worked out having these men discharged.

This self same Braffet, the man of brass knuckles fame, defied the officers of the law and bulldozed the Justice into thinking the men had been illegally arrested. He told the Marshall he had wrongfully arrested them. The farce-comedy trial ended and the prisoners accompanied their admiring saviour down town as free men.

Naturally Marshall Lee was angry to think that Price had a supposed attorney in it, who would stoop to such low despicable trickery and misinterpret the law to gain the freedom of such "thugs."

The climax, however, was reached when another warrant was sworn out and they were rearrested.

Braffet had by this time, with the assistance of C.L. Maxwell ("Gunplay" Maxwell of well known local fame) who had asked to be a deputy sheriff some time ago, and Peter A. Francis managed to get the stranger, who was the main prosecuting witness, and the three men between them boocooed and scared him out of town under threat of his life.

The stranger was an Irishman and he remarked, "By Jude what kinds a hell hole am I in anyhow? Oh want to live and the buggers give me half an hour to get out a town."

Of course Braffet's shyster work had won the day and Maxwell had on "personal authority" tried to run Marshall Lee, and in fact the town that day helped by these burglers and the thug protectors. Dalton and McKeone had a gay time in celebrating with their admireres and protectors the rest of the day.

That same afternoon on Jim Nielson hailing from Spring City brutally assaulted Sophus Olsen of Cleveland. Both men had been drinking but Olsen was trying to get away from Nielson and when the two reached the railroad track near Gilsonite warehouse, Nielson knocked Olsen down and literally stamped on his face. Olsen was helpless and a dozen men saw the dastardly outrage, but did not interfere. The brutal assailant got away, but was taken later in the evening and tried. He got 30 days and a $50 fine which he will probably sweat on in the cooler.

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