In the years shortly before the merger of the News Advocate and The Sun newspapers (1932), a relative calm had settled over the newspapers' competition. The main reason was that the new owners who took over the News Advocate in the early 1920s, while not exactly towing the same line as the Crockett brothers who owned The Sun, spent their time working on improving the community and adding to the news base, rather than trying to tear down The Sun.
Gone were the days of editorials proclaiming The Sun to be a rag and something only fitting for lining bird cages. Gone too, was an R.W. Crockett, who then found himself in the middle of one brush with the authorities after another. The last big event involving the older Crockett brother was a fight on the streets of Price between him and county treasurer Alpha Ballinger. At the time, Ballinger threw Crockett to the ground and "gave him a sound thrashing" (according to the News Advocate, anyway). A short time later, Crockett reaped his revenge by stabbing Ballinger between the ribs with a knife, which put the county treasurer out of action for a number of days.
The change began when W.F. Benfer left the News-Advocate. He was there one day and gone the next. It was pretty much common knowledge that he was fired, but no one ever officially said so. The new editor was a young man from Philadelphia, Pa., who arrived via papers in Sterling and Fort Morgan, Colo. His name was Harry W. Cooper. He and his wife would make the News Advocate become a paper which served the community, rather than the rich people in town or the politicians who supported it. For the first time, news began to arrive from the outlying areas of the county in a regular fashion with town news, written by locals, bearing such headlines as Helper Hand-Outs, Rains Rumblings, Ewell Etchings, Scofield Sophistry, Clear Creek Ripples, Hiawatha Bubbles and Sunnyside Reams.
But an event that would change the newspaper even more happened on Aug. 13, 1923. Harry Cooper died at home and hardly anyone knew he was sick. At 44 years old, he was a figure who had seemed too young to die, despite the fact that the average life span for a male American at the time was somewhere between 40-50 years of age. For the rest of the year, the paper listed no official editor. But on Jan. 1, 1924, the name G.A. Cooper appeared. Grace Cooper, Harry's wife, had kept the paper going since the previous summer and finally decided that she would continue to publish it. Any official animosity toward The Sun disappeared completely at this point. The paper cut out all its boiler plate news and went almost entirely local. It also changed its day of publication from a Friday weekly paper to a Thursday publication date.
The Cooper family continued to publish the paper until 1929, when, in failing health, Mrs. Cooper decided to sell the News Advocate to William Ingleheart.
It is interesting to note that in the last days of the paper, as it was owned by Cooper, that she employed one L.A. Hills as the advertising manager for the publication. Later in his career, Hills would win a Pulitzer Prize for journalism, one of two people that have worked at the Sun Advocate and its predecessors that took the most prestigious award in print media.
This is one in a series of stories concerning the history of the Sun Advocate which will celebrate its 120th anniversary in 2011.