Bert Slater, Founder Of The Roundup

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R. A. Fisher Sr. photo from Roundup files

Bert Slater started the Payson Roundup in 1946. He was born in 1876 in Illinois and died in 1957. While this photo is from a time after Slater died, it is probably something that was not all that uncommon a sight when he was putting out his little bit of hometown news every two weeks.

Bert Slater, originally from Illinois, started the Payson Roundup in 1946. About a year or so before he died in 1957, he wrote his story of the paper. Here’s what he said:

“I was requested by Mr. H.Y (Bert) Spregue [sic] to have something to say about myself and the PAYSON ROUNDUP. So, here goes:

“For about ten years I was Editor, Printer, Typesetter and Office boy for the little home paper, The Payson Roundup.

“All the work was done by hand and the printing was on the little hand press, a 6 x 10 Kelsey press, and as at the time I started the paper I had never had any experience in that kind of work, did not know that type had to be set ‘backwards’ way. But by trial and failure, I finally learned and was able to print the little paper of Home-news. But now that the folks in Phoenix who have the know-how, have taken over the Payson Roundup it is going to really amount to something.

“Now, I was born in Illinois in 1876, went to Colorado in 1881 where I lived for about 20 years, then went to Idaho, then to California, and from there to El Paso Texas. Did not like it there, so came to Arizona for over 30 years and have lived at Payson for over 30 years where I own my little home and intend to finish it out here.

“I’m a member of the Payson C. of C., the Civil Air Patrol, the Square Dance Club, the Payson Little Theatre, the Sportsman’s Club and have had a heck of a time to keep out of the Junior Woman’s Club. So, for an old codger, I do move about some. And that’s about all I got to say.”

Slater was an interesting person and one of the more interesting pieces regarding him can be found online at DanielFry.com.

Fry was a character himself, who claimed to have had multiple contacts with aliens. He published a magazine about the paranormal called Understanding. In the May 1963 edition of his Understanding magazine, Vollie Tripp wrote an article titled “Bert Slater Could Leave and Return to His Body.” Here are a couple of clips from that article.

“I first ‘met’ Bert Slater sometime in the 40’s. He had seen something I’d written, and wrote me a long letter. He lived in Payson, Arizona, a little burg a hundred miles from a railroad, up in the Tonto Basin country.

“Bert was an old prospector, sailor, adventurer. He’d done a little writing, and he was quite a student of occult things. For years we corresponded regularly. Later I sold him a little printing outfit, just the thing for an old man to putter at, getting out dance programs, letterheads and other odd job printing work.

“Bert told me he could leave his body at will, flit over the country, visit distant friends, even peek in to see what they had for dinner, though he could not make his presence known to them. …

“He explained how he discovered the trick, a result of an accident. He was prospecting one day, and fell off a bluff, striking his head on a reek. [sic] When he came to ‘he’ was floating five or six feet above his body, and looking down at it. It looked dead, and in a sense, it was. But after trying several times, he got back into it, stirred it to life, and made his way back to his little cabin.”

The printing outfit that Tripp sold him could well have been the one that Slater used to start the Roundup.

On Feb. 23, 1957, Slater passed away. The Arizona Publisher, a publication of the Arizona Newspaper Association, had the following obituary for Slater in their March 1957 issue.

“PAYSON – Bert Slater, founder of the Payson Roundup newspaper, died in Payson Saturday, Feb. 23.

“He was 81 years old. Still active in civic affairs, he had helped with a Payson Little Theater talent show Friday night.

“He was born in Illinois in 1876 and in 1925 came to Payson, where he was employed as a ranch worker.

“He founded his little newspaper in 1946, because there was no newspaper in the Tonto country. Slater set type by hand, and printed perhaps 150 copies every two weeks on a tiny hand press.

“The paper was more for the benefit of the subscribers than the editor, and never made any money. Subscription was $1 a year — if the subscriber felt like paying for it.

“Slater wouldn’t take anything for advertising, but published ads free for subscribers.”

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