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Vernal Express

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This is Fred Ball for Zions Bank, speaking on business.

I was in the office of Jack R. Wallis, the publisher of the Vernal Express newspaper. I was certain that this publication had to be the longest continuing business in the Uintah Basin and wanted to hear the story of the paper.

Well, I was right. The paper has been operating in Vernal for over 112 years. In those early days of the paper when outlaws roved over the ranges and were frequent visitors in Vernal, the first editor was not the usual pistol packing, hard-fisted he-man type, but rather a spry young lady, Mrs. Kate Jean Boan.

In the first issue printed on January 2, 1891, Kate wrote, "Here I am today, the Uintah Pappoose, young in years and experience, but if 'time will tell' I hope to become a 'heap big chief me.' My paper talk will be limited, but I shall use my eyes and ears and let you all know what is going on from one end of the country to the other."

Kate was new in the field of journalism and took a chance by purchasing a $300 printing press from a mail order house. When the press arrived, she set up her shop and started printing with a determination of making her paper lively and newsy.

In less than a year Kate sold the paper to bachelor James Barker, who, after receiving many jokes about his little papoose, changed the paper's name to the Vernal Express.

Jack Wallis then explained to me how his grandfather, James H. Wallis came to Vernal on business in the early part of 1917. He became interested in the paper and became the manager. His son, William B. Wallis later became editor and manager. James remained the publisher until his death in 1940. William B. continued as editor and publisher until 1969 when his son, Jack R. took over the reins.

I don't think young Kate Jean Boan had any idea that her little papoose newspaper would still be informing the citizens of the Uintah Basin 112 years later. She would have been very proud.

For Zions Bank, I'm Fred Ball. I'm speaking on business.

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