Readers got a shock as their paper got new name
When subscribers to the Eastern Utah Advocate picked up their paper off their front porch on the afternoon of June 6, 1915, they were in for a shock.
The paper was not the Eastern Utah Advocate at all, but another publication called "The Sun."
It was and is one of the strangest transitions for a newspaper in the history of the state of Utah.
The new publisher of The Sun was Robert Crockett, who had until only a couple of years before had been the publisher of the Eastern Utah Advocate.
During his years in Price since about 1897, Crockett had invested himself in many businesses across the board from selling horse tack to real estate. But the Eastern Utah Advocate was his original purchase, one from which he grew his other enerprises.
In 1906 another man started a newspaper called the Carbon County News and soon the two papers were battling for supremacy in an area that had only a few thousand residents. Both newspapers were very good for their time, but also were prone to attacking each other violently on the front pages of their publications. Even physical fisticuffs broke out between supporters of the one paper with the other. It was a passionate time, when the only news people got was either from word of mouth or from the local newspapers. State newspapers like the Salt Lake Telegraph and Salt Lake Tribune did come to the area, but they were often a few days late. It was not unusual to find both local papers printing national and international news on their pages.
Crockett's papers always leaned toward the Republican side of politics, while the News was a Democratic paper.
In late 1914, probably weary of the battles and the competition, Crockett sold his interest in the EUA to Fred L. Waltrous, who immediately began printing the paper, and changed it almost at once. However, apparently Waltrous was not much of a businessman because he quickly began amassing debt in the area and hardly made any payments to Crockett on his purchase. By early 1915 Crockett was working through the courts to get the paper back.
On May 28, 1915 the EUA appeared just as it should; on time with the same kind of news that people had expected from it for the last few months. However, only a handful of people in the community knew that that day would be the last time that paper would be printed under that name.
During the next week the courts ordered Waltrous to turn over everything associated with the paper to Crockett. However, there was one little problem, Crockett did not realize he had signed himself into. In the original contract there was a clause that let Waltrous keep the name Eastern Utah Advocate as his regardless of what happened. That was, of course, unless he was willing to sell or release it. The relations between the two men had deteriorated so badly that Waltrous refused to turn the name over for any reason, and certainly Crockett who Waltrous already owned so much money to was unwilling to negotiate with the one who had almost destroyed his beloved paper.
Consequently, Crockett, upon resumption of printing the paper had to find a new name and he picked The Sun because he felt it would shed a new light on the goings-on in the area.
The first issue of The Sun, however, was not printed on the brand new Mergenthaler press that Crockett had purchased not long before the sale to Waltrous. Waltrous had removed it from the plant and the first issue of The Sun was printed on an old and much inferior press. The difference was obvious to even the casual reader.
"In the rush incident to the assembling of a big newspaper plant this first issue of The Sun is not what its management would like it to be," Crockett wrote in a story on the front page. "But rest assured there will be an improvement from week to week."
Within a few months, by court order, the better press was recovered.
However the story doesn't end there. Within a month after The Sun began publication, Waltrous sold the EUA name he had retained to the Carbon County News, which prompted the publisher to change its name to the News Advocate citing underneath the masthead "A consolidation of the Carbon County News and the Eastern Utah Advocate." The first issue appeared on July 9. 1915. The renamed newspaper began touting the belief that the News Advocate was now the direct descendent of the original Eastern Utah Telegraph (founded in 1891) from which the EUA had grown. They used the claim in advertising and by word of mouth to try to discredit Crockett's new paper.
The newspaper war of Carbon County was on again and it was quite heated until new ownership took over both papers in the 1920s. Both eventually fell into debt and then into receivership, partly because there just wasn't room for two papers in the county at the time, and partly because of the beginning of the great depression in 1931.
In 1932 both papers were purchased by the owner of the Richfield Reaper and combined into one publication. The paper that emerged became known as the Sun Advocate.