Newspapers of Uinta County, Wyoming


After the tragic end of the Frontier Index at Bear Town in 1868 no attempt was made to print a paper in the new county of Uinta until 1871, when a man named W. L. Vaughn opened an office for the publication of a weekly paper called the Evanston Age. At the end of a few months he moved away, leaving his little plant behind. Two years later a man named William Wheeler took over the printing press and supplies, and publication was resumed. A mutilated copy dated March 17, 1875, is in the hands of the author. It may cause some surprise to learn that it was published daily and cost $11o a year. There was also a weekly edition at $3 per year. The daily was printed in folio with a fourteen-inch column. In a column headed "News of the Morning from Associated Press Dispatches" is the report of the extra session of the Senate in which Mr. Ingalls introduced a resolution requesting the president to transmit to the Senate information in regard to the Sioux Indians migrating to the Black Hills. The paper is given over largely to advertisements. Among the locals we find the announcement of a St. Patrick's Ball at Hilliard, with refreshments at one dollar a plate. The dissolution notices of the partnership of Booth and McDonald, and of that of the Blyth, Pixley & Edwards company, are there, as well as the notice that the Almy stage, of which R. H. Porter was proprietor, ran three times a day, and the fare was twenty-five cents a trip.

A well-preserved copy of the Evanston Age, dated September 16, 1876, has come into the possession of the author through the courtesy of Miss Kate Smith, who recently found it in the back of a picture frame. It is a well printed paper of four sevencolumn pages, and brings before us the life of the time. The subscription price was five dollars a year, and it was published Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. The Territorial Directory reads in part as follows : Governor, J. M. Thayer; Auditor, O. North; Court Justices, J. W. Fisher, E. A. Thomas and J. B. Blair. The Uinta County officers were : Probate Judge, W. M. Remington; County Commissioners, C. A. Phipps, N. Beeman, W. K. Sloan ; Sheriff, Will inn. Hinton ; Assessor, M. C. Hopkins; Surveyor, W. G. Tonn ; Prosecuting Attorney, H. Garbanati ; Coroner, Thomas Street ; School Commissioner, S. K. Temple. The paper was the official organ of Sweetwater County as well as Uinta, and the list of the officers is headed by the name of O. E. Bradbury, Probate Judge and Treasurer. P. A. McPhee, husband of Mrs. Bradbury's sister, was sheriff. In the church notices we find F. L. Arnold, pastor of the Presbyterian Church. The Methodist Church at that time had no pastor, but held Sunday School at three p. m. The Church of the Latter Day Saints was in charge of W. G. Burton. It was the year of the great gold excitement at Deadwood, and there is the report of an interview with P. H. Tooley, an early hardware merchant of Evanston, who had just returned from the diggings. It says : "He had no trouble with the Indians, but saw men who had been murdered just ahead of the train he was with." Two articles copied from the Cheyenne Sun and Leader are given over to accounts of lights with the Sioux in the Black Hills. In the telegraphic news is the account of the day's progress in the trial of John D. Lee, then being held in Beaver, Utah, for the Mountain Meadow massacre. There is also a caustic article on the case from the pen of judge C. C. Goodwin, editor of the Salt Lake Tribune. The Centennial Exposition, then being held in 'Philadelphia, is mentioned freely in the dispatches and railroad advertisements.

In the fall of 1876 William T. Shafer arrived in Evanston. He was the proprietor and publisher of a Green River paper called the Rocky Mountain Courier and of the Carbon County News of Rawlins. A partnership was formed with Mr. Wheeler under which these two publications were consolidated with the Evanston Age. Mr. Wheeler became business manager and Mr. Shaf er became editor. This arrangement lasted for two years, at the end of which Mr. Wheeler moved to Idaho, and the days of the Evanston Age were ended.

In March, 1879, Frank Lannon, a young man who came out from New York to join his brother, George Lannon, an employe in the railroad shop at Evanston, formed a partnership with Mr. Shafer and the Uinta County Chieftain was founded. The office was in the story above the Booth & Crocker meat market, and in the fall was destroyed by fire. This was a great blow to the young newspaper men, and Frank Lannon decided to engage with another brother, Charles Lannon, in ranching on upper Bear River, an enterprise in which both were deservedly successful. Mr. Shafer continued the publication of the Chieftain for about twelve years, and in 1843 he founded the Uinta Herald, which was later discontinued.

William T. Shafer was born in Montrose, Pennsylvania, in the year 1838 and belonged to a fine family. Beginning his newspaper career in his home town, he became war correspondent in the Civil War, and in 1864 was employed on a northern publication called the Bulletin, in Memphis, Tennessee. After a time spent in Fremont, Nebraska, he came to Wyoming. He held several important positions, was at one time receiver of the land office, was elected to the office of county treasurer, and had represented his precinct in the lower house of the legislature, in 1gog. He was a man of good education and was capable of good writing, but his work varied greatly in quality. He was of a philosophical turn of mind that sometimes led him to indulge in verse. His last years were clouded by great physical suffering, and his death by suicide in December, 1923, was a shock to the community, where he had lived for nearly half a century.

In 1877 the Evanston Argus was published by Mark Hopkins, who later moved to Laramie. Another short-lived weekly was the Evanston Examiner, that first appeared in 1885. The following year the editor, E. Buchanan, took his plant to Park City, Utah.

In 1887 a paper called the Evanston News was founded by two young men named Austin Decker and Wilson Dillon. After a few months Decker left and J. F. Loudin, son-in-law of Major Baldwin, the founder of Lander, Wyoming, continued the publication until 1893, when he sold to a company that put J. H. Ryckman in as editor. Mr. Ryckman was educated for the bar, and for several years he practiced in Evanston, where he is remembered for his penetrating wit and a certain brilliancy of mind that made for him a place among criminal lawyers of Los Angeles, where he moved later.

In 18go a young man named Joseph U. Allard began the publication of a weekly called the Evanston Register. In 1894 he bought the News and the two papers were combined under the name of the News-Register. Mr. Allard is of French descent and came to Wyoming with his father's family from the state of Vermont in 1884. He made his way through the public schools and persevered in his chosen calling until he is one of the best known newspaper men in western Wyoming. He is now editor and publisher of the Rocket, of Rock Springs, Wyoming. He was the founder of the Bridger Valley Enterprise, now owned by the Rollins brothers, of Lyman.

In 1905 Mr. Allard sold the News-Register to Joseph T. Booth, a printer who had been in his employ for two years. Though but a boy in years, Mr. Booth conducted the paper until 19o2, when he sold it to George Ewer, Jr.

In 1896, the year of the free silver issue, the Wyoming Press was formed by a group of prominent citizens. J. H. Ryckman was its first editor. He was succeeded in a few months by a young man named Harry Glenn, and he soon afterward by Austin C. Sloan. In 1902 George Ewer purchased the Press and for a year and a half it was the only paper in the county, that then extended from the Utah boundary on the south to the Yellowstone National Park. Under Mr. Ewer the Press was conducted on Republican principles.

Mr. Ewer was born in Birmingham, England, and in 1877 came to America with his parents, who are still living at an advanced age. Two sisters also make their homes in Evanston, Mrs. Mary Shopp and Mrs. Frank Brown. Mr. Ewer began his journalistic career under Mr. Shaf er in the office of the Uinta Herald, and has been the first newspaper man to achieve any considerable degree of financial success. He has put up several buildings, one of which is occupied by the Wyoming Times, of which he is editor and proprietor. Mr. Ewer married in 1893 Miss Mary Cain, a native of Indiana, and to them seven children were born, all of whom, like their father, have received their education in the public schools of Evanston, where they are well known. The mother died in the influen7.a, epidemic in 1917. Mr, Ewer's present wife was the widow of Thomas Johnson, son of Thomas S., and had resided in Evanston , for many years.

The Wyoming Press was purchased from Mr. Ewer in 1910 by J. T. Booth. Mr. Booth was born in Coalville, Utah, and received his education in the public schools and the New West Academy of that place. He married Edna, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Peter Peterson, who has ably assisted him in his newspaper work. Mr. Booth confined his activities to journalism until i9m, when he received from President Harding the appointment to the office of register of the United States Land Office at Evanston. The Press is now in charge of Mr. Lee W. Jenkins, a ``native son" of California, an overseas veteran and a young man of wide experience in newspaper work.

Evanston has had an exceedingly creditable amateur monthly called The Cottontail, owned, printed and published by the thirteen-year-old son of Dean and Mrs. Smith. Although the subscription price was only twenty-five cents a year, the editor made a financial success of his work, and his paper received recognition as one of the best of its kind.

A great change has come over the journalism of the country as revealed in comparing the papers of two score years ago and those of today. The bickering of the editors that was supposed to add spice to life has given place to a common courtesy more convincing as well as more pleasing to the general reader. Despite cheap criticism to the contrary it can be truthfully said that the conduct of the newspapers in Uinta County, both in times of peace and war, has been such as to merit the praise of all loyal citizens.

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