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Founded in 1894 by Neva Chase Child and published by T.E. and Royal B. Child, the Champion was published in Bowling Green. Child, a native of Illinois, had moved with her rancher husband to Florida during the Panic of 1893. Before that time she had published newspapers in Colorado. In 1895, the offices of the Champion were moved from Bowling Green to Arcadia. In its October 18, 1896 issue, the Florida Union of Jacksonville reported: “There are not many women editors in Florida, but Mrs. Childs (sic) ranks with the best weekly paper publishers in the state of either sex. She is a thorough business woman and an able writer. The paper is independent in politics, four page, six column, weekly issued every Thursday, $1 a year.”
The Champion was one of several early newspapers in DeSoto County, a large inland area in southern Florida that would later be partitioned into five separate counties. Arcadia was and still is the seat of DeSoto County; Bowling Green is now located in Hardee County.
The Champion documented early life in the region. Then, as now, Arcadia’s local economy and much of the Champion’s reporting centered on agriculture. At the turn of the century, this part of Florida saw the rapid expansion of railroads, the development of agriculture, and the growth of tourist industry along the Atlantic coast.
The Champion ceased publication in 1911 and was succeeded in turn by the Enterprise and the Arcadia Enterprise. The Tampa Morning Tribune, writing in tribute to the Champion in its January 10, 1909, article “Arcadia Champion, Popular Paper,” may have anticipated the causes for its demise. “Through the efforts of the Champion,” it reported, “the Tribune was able to make the success of this edition of [the Tribune’s] DeSoto [edition] which it has.” Having built on the foundation laid by the Champion, the Tampa Morning Tribune survives as one of Florida’s most widely read newspapers.
Provided by: University of Florida