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The Bourbon News began publication in 1881 in Millersburg, Kentucky under the ownership of Confederate veteran and former farmer Bruce Champ. No issue of the paper's Millersburg incarnation survives. Champ soon moved the paper's operations to Paris, the Bourbon County seat, resuming publication on March 7, 1882 with an issue enumerated as volume one and number one; editors invariably counted anniversaries from 1881, however. On August 3, 1883, Champ renamed the paper the Semi-Weekly Bourbon News, only to change back to the Bourbon News on July 14, 1895.
Bruce Champ's death in 1892 saw control of the paper pass to Walter Champ, his son, and to Bruce Miller, a nephew. Miller would later serve a long tenure as editor and, later, owner of the Kentuckian-Citizen. In 1900, the Bourbon News was edited and published by Walter and his brother, W. Swift Champ. Walter's death that same year left Swift as sole owner and editor. Save for a brief lease to George D. Mitchell in 1902, Swift Champ remained as owner and editor until his death in 1923.
Initially a simple, eight-page country publication - in contrast to the county's older and more widely-known Kentuckian-Citizen - by the turn of the century the Bourbon News had developed an independent, populist tone offering an eclectic mix of state, national, and international news, serials, anecdotes, and topical items. Its extensive coverage of social affairs, the Kentucky horse industry, and the tobacco business reflected both the county's economic interests and its cultural passions.
Throughout the early 1900s the Bourbon News navigated a complicated and difficult Kentucky political landscape noted for its sharp and sometimes violent conflicts between Kentucky's Democrats and Republicans, as well as for its significant divisions within the dominant Democratic Party. Bourbon County's Democrats were deeply divided by issues and the political personalities attached to them, most notably the liberal and "wet" camp of James O'Brien and the conservative and "dry" camp of John T. Hinton. Swift Champ offered qualified support to O'Brien during his tenure as mayor of Paris; he also extolled country papers like his own as bulwarks against Kentucky's Democratic machine politics.
By 1910, the paper had 3,000 subscribers, ranking it among the largest circulations in the Bluegrass region. The paper continued publishing until 1941.
Provided by: University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY