LS: History Here and Now Column March 13, 2009

This is the first in a series of columns about the history of The Daily Sentinel.

People have always wanted to know what is happening, and Grand Junction was no exception when its first settlers arrived in the early 1880s. Establishing a local newspaper was a priority nearly 128 years ago in 1881.

The Daily Sentinel hasn’t been publishing quite that long, claiming only a relatively modest 116 years.

The earliest recorded newspaper, the Grand Junction Star, hit the streets on Dec. 9, 1881, published by George A. Crawford, Grand Junction’s founding father.

Less than a year later, in September 1882, Crawford persuaded Edwin Price of Denver to come to Grand Junction to start a newspaper. The first edition of the Grand Junction News, a Republican paper, was published on Oct. 27, 1882.

Around that time, the Grand Junction Town Co., primarily a Democratic organization, felt the need for a paper to express its views, saying that the News was “becoming hostile to its cause.”

With a land dispute between George Crawford and William Keith, another early-day resident, getting more heated, the town company persuaded Charles W. Haskell to start the Mesa County Democrat.

Meanwhile, two Denver men, I.N. Bunting and Howard T. Lee, who worked at the Star, a morning publication, left the paper in 1893. The men didn’t want to leave the booming frontier town of Grand Junction. With the backing of a few people in Grand Junction, they sold their Denver holdings in the Carter Rice Paper Co., a newspaper plant, and opened The Daily Sentinel at 541 Main St.

They published the first edition on Nov. 20, 1893. Bunting had little newspaper experience, but Lee made up for that, as he had worked for Denver newspapers.

After a few years, Lee and Bunting decided that the income from the paper was not sufficient to pay both men, so Lee decided to leave the paper in the hands of Bunting. Lee went to Denver to work as a proofreader at the Rocky Mountain News.

In 1903 the paper moved to the Canon Block at Fourth and Main streets.

That same year, Walter Walker came to Grand Junction with his wife, Kathy. He worked at the Sentinel for eight years as city editor, then moved to Ouray to work on the Ouray Plain Dealer for a year.

In 1907, the Sentinel’s new building at 547 Main St. was erected, and the newspaper moved once again.

On Dec. 3, 1911, I.N. Bunting died while delivering an Elks Memorial address. His widow contacted Walter Walker, asking him return to Grand Junction to be the editorial writer for the Sentinel.

Walter Walker continued as a Sentinel employee until 1917, when he organized his own company and purchased the newspaper from the Bunting estate.

Kathy Jordan is retired from The Daily Sentinel and involved in many preservation efforts, including the Avalon Theatre, the railroad depot and the North Seventh Street Historic Residential District.

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