Clayton Dunn, along with his four brothers, owns the Tooele Transcript Bulletin newspaper which has been owned, operated and published by the Dunns. Dunn was the guest presenter at the monthly Sons of Utah Pioneers Settlement Canyon Chapter on Wednesday, May 7.
He told the fascinating story about James Dunn, a weaver from Scotland who knew when to say “yes!” As Clayton tells it, his great-grandfather James, a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, aided a group of pioneers who were toiling to reach the Salt Lake Valley in 1851. James happily settled in Willard, Utah, and started building his future when a proposal of marriage came in the form of a letter from Tooele. James asked his bishop for counsel, and was told to check it out. A three-day walk later found him in Tooele.
It seems that a young woman on that wagon train he helped had an eye for James, and through a friend wrote the letter that started the Dunn family in Tooele. Dunn, who knew when to say “yes,” married Mary Madden a few days after arriving in Tooele.
After years of farming, James, who was then 60 years old, and had always had a penchant for reading and writing, was asked to be editor of the fledgling Tooele Transcript newspaper. Dunn again said “yes” to that proposal and “yes” again when it was proposed he buy the newspaper. With a $10 down payment that he had to borrow, Dunn started his new career as owner and publisher of the newspaper, a career that would last him the rest of his life, except for a six-month stint in the Utah State Prison on charges of polygamy.
The present Dunn newspaper family indeed comes through James’ third wife. Alex Dunn was born through this marriage in 1897. It seems that this son had a natural gift of quickly hand-setting lead type upside down and backwards, which was the way it was done in those days. Alex would go on to own the newspaper of his father, and also purchased and pioneered a machine that set type many times faster than by hand. Along with his newspaper duties, Alex was very active in civic affairs here in Tooele and in Utah. To keep him extra busy, Dunn was called to be President of the Tooele Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a position he held for many years.
Alex had two sons who helped him at the newspaper. Loren Dunn’s greatest interest was in writing. His brother Joel loved the publishing and news-press part of the business. After both graduated from college, Joel continued with the news paper, while Loren pursued other interests. By then, the Transcript newspaper building was at its present site on North Main Street. The newspaper was housed on East Vine Street until it burned down and was rebuilt on land that the original Dunn owned.
Always the pioneer, Joel was the first publisher west of the Mississippi to set type via computers. That type was printed on slick, rolled computer paper, and was then cut by hand with scissors to fit the space of the advertisements purchased by local businesses, or the news that fit around those advertisements. Art work for the advertisements was also cut out of large “line art” books by hand, and then everything was waxed to newspaper sized sheets. These sheets were then “burned” to metal plates that were attached to the large printing presses and the newspaper “run” began.
The author was employed as advertising manager for the then-Tooele Transcript Bulletin, who had years before purchased the competing Tooele Bulletin newspaper, and began publishing two times per week. He was present and remembers the joy of victory that came the first time the paper was printed with an additional color to black, a rare and expensive process. Now, of course, the paper is printed in full color, something hardly to be contemplated in those days except by the ever pioneering Dunn family. Because of that forward thinking, 75 percent of the business of the Tooele Transcript Bulletin today is found in printing newspapers, magazines and other publications. Even the magazine, “Pioneer,” the National Publication of the Sons of Utah Pioneers, is printed there.
The state-of-the-art newspaper presses have printed publications for all states in the country.
If you are interested in learning about and helping keep alive the heritage of our ancestor forefathers, come join us the first Thursday of every month at 6:30 p.m. for a potluck dinner and historical presentation. The wonderfully new and state of the art TATC building on the west end of Second South in Tooele, is our new home. We appreciate the forward thinking of the educational pioneers that make this facility such a great place to meet in. For more information about the Sons of Utah Pioneers, give Jerry Henson a call at (435) 883-4917.