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The Ocala Bannerwas founded in 1883 as a successor to the Ocala Banner-Iacon, itself the product of a merger between the East Florida Banner and the Florida Iacon. In 1890, the Ocala Banner became a daily. Over the years it bore alternate titles: the Banner, the Daily Banner, and the Ocala Daily Banner.

Situated in rural Marion County, the Ocala Banner covered farming, business, and civic issues in Ocala, where the Freeze of 1895 had devastated the citrus industry and paved the way for diversified agriculture and the growth of tourism.

The most important of the early editors of the Ocala Banner was Frank E. Harris, a veteran of the Confederate army, who ran the paper in the 1890s. Other editors included T.W. Harris, who had published several other newspapers in Ocala, and C.L. Bittinger, who before moving to Florida had served as a commander in the Grand Army of the Republic.

In 1895, the Ocala Evening Star surfaced as a rival to the Ocala Banner. Beginning in 1897, it also appeared in a weekly edition, the Ocala Weekly Star. During an address to the Ocala Rotary Club, R.N. Dosh, editor of the Evening Star in the 1920s and 1930s, recalled that the “Star first saw the light of day in the press room of the Florida Baptist Witness”, founded in 1884 as the weekly press organ of the Florida Baptist Convention, a branch of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Former competitors, the Ocala Evening Star and the Ocala Banner joined in 1943 to form the Ocala Star-Banner, which remains the daily newspaper of Marion County.

Provided by: University of Florida