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Country: United States
City: St. George, Utah
Issues of this title available in Elephind: 11
Items (articles and/or pages) from this title available in Elephind: 46
Earliest Date: 1 January 1881
Latest Date: 1 June 1882
In the late 19th century, the town of St. George witnessed the rise and fall of many newspapers that served the region known as “Utah’s Dixie.” Among them, the Union proved relatively durable. Published sporadically, it was able to survive for just over 20 years.
St. George’s first settlers arrived in November 1861, a group of 300 families called to serve in the Mormon Church’s “Cotton Mission.” Brigham Young, leader of the Mormon Church, hoped to develop a cotton industry in the red-rock desert landscape about 300 miles south of Salt Lake City. Life in the town proved difficult. Spring floods ravaged farmland and summer heat wilted crops. Still, by 1871 the city’s population topped 1,100.
The arrival of a telegraph line in 1867 breathed life into St. George’s newspaper industry. In January 1868, Our Dixie Times was launched, proclaiming “a new era…to establish a printing press [in] settlements so new and destitute of means.” Within two months, the newspaper’s foreman deserted, and printing duties fell to the editor’s two sons, ages 11 and 15, and his 14-year-old daughter. The newspaper changed its name in May 1868, to The Rio Virgin Times, sometimes printed as Rio Virgen Times. Difficulties persisted, however, as the editor explained in September 1868: “We are publishing at present without any prospect of receiving one half of our current expenses.” The paper folded two months later.
When the Union appeared in 1878, it enjoyed a brief stint as St. George’s only newspaper and attracted subscribers by reprinting the sermons of Mormon founder Joseph Smith. Still, editor and owner J. W. Carpenter struggled to publish regularly, and it took four years to release the first 24-issue volume of the “semi-monthly.” As Carpenter wrote in the November 12, 1880, issue: “We must have food and clothes, and the publishing business is not lucrative enough…especially when about half of our subscribers do not pay.”
In late 1896, the motto on the Union’s masthead changed, from: “United we stand, divided we fall,” to, “From the little acorn grows the mighty oak.” Unfortunately for Carpenter, newspaper revenues refused to follow the acorn’s example. On May 19, 1898, he published the final edition of the Union, and announced his intention to try his hand at farming.
Provided by: University of Utah, Marriott Library