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De Soto County News
The De Soto County News began publishing from Arcadia in 1898. The News had been preceded by the Arcadian, which dates back to 1887, the year DeSoto County was founded. The Arcadian was rechristened the De Soto County News after its sale to Ziba King and his partners, John L. Lewis and J. H. Treadwell.
King, born in Ware County, Georgia, was a pioneer settler of Arcadia. A veteran of the Confederate Army, King moved after the Civil War to Tampa, where he sold dry goods. Soon thereafter, King settled in Arcadia, where he became a cattle rancher and served as president of the First National Bank. Between 1873 and 1876 King was elected to several terms as Justice of the Peace. Although affiliated with the Conservative Democratic Party, King was registered as an Independent from 1888 through 1891. The county’s Independent Party was opposed by its Populists--later known as the Farm Alliance--whose chief spokesman was Thomas J. Pepper, the publisher of the Arcadian.
Bitter political differences between King and Pepper ensued. In 1896, Pepper supported the Populist Party candidacy of William Jennings Bryan for the presidency of the United States, in opposition to King’s Democratic Party candidate, Oscar T. Sanford. After the election was won by the Republican William McKinley, the Democratic Party commissioners of DeSoto County suspended the Arcadian’s printing contract. Pepper’s creditors subsequently sold the newspaper to King, Lewis, and Treadwell, who also received the county’s printing contract. Though King died in 1901, the De Soto County News continued to reflect his character.
By 1905, the De Soto County News had become a weekly six-column broadsheet-sized publication full of local news, including reports from outlying communities in this region known for its ranching and farming. One of the newspaper’s biggest stories was its coverage of the fire of Thanksgiving Day 1905 in which Arcadia was burnt to the ground. During the First World War, the De Soto County News reported on the training of pilots at the U.S. Army Air Service’s Carlstrom Field.
Provided by: University of Florida