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Punta Gorda Herald
The Punta Gorda Herald was founded by Robert Kirby Seward in 1893 and published weekly during its early years. The Herald oversaw the development of the city of Punta Gorda, beginning with the arrival of the Florida Southern Railway in Charlotte (then DeSoto) County.
Seward's foot-operated press produced two pages that were smaller than today's newspapers. Under the masthead of the Herald was the slogan, "In God We Trust, All Others Cash." One paper cost five cents, while an annual subscription cost a dollar. The “inevitable” fire--they were common in Florida’s journalism history--destroyed Seward’s print shop in November 1895. The printing press was too large and cumbersome to move, so Seward was left with only a few cases of type and a small cabinet. After much encouragement and the financial backing of his brother-in-law, James Sandlin and other businessmen, Seward rebuilt his press at the same location. He bought new equipment and boasted later that he never again missed publication.
The Punta Gorda Herald covered such lively events as rum running, other smuggling activities, and lawlessness in general. Among news items of note was a visit by Carry Nation (1846-1911), self-described “bulldog” for Prohibition. Nation came to Punta Gorda in 1908 to counter the influence of a favorite son, General Albert W. Gilchrist, who favored the availability of alcohol. Nation’s arrival had been orchestrated by Neva Chase Child, publisher of the Champion in nearby Arcadia. In its June 18, 1908, issue, the Punta Gorda Herald reported that "Only one paper in the entire state made any derogatory charge or insinuation against the private character of General Gilchrist and that paper is edited by a woman. We once heard an imminent Kentucky preacher say that a woman cannot tell the truth, and yet he had never read this paper that slandered Gilchrist and we, therefore, cannot imagine why he made the allegation." This rhetoric was thick with dry humor as the Punta Gorda Herald generally favored Gilchrist, a hero of the Spanish-American war, who later that same year would be chosen Governor of Florida.
Seward sold the Punta Gorda Herald to Adrian Pettus Jordan in 1901. Prior to buying the newspaper, Jordan was known for his attacks on a railroad company that had acquired land grants dishonestly. Then editor of the Wild Wood Orange Leaf in Sumter County, Jordan's muckraking activities ultimately led the state legislature to intervene in the affair. Jordan was also instrumental in getting General Gilchrist elected State Representative and later Governor. The dynamic newspaperman survived an assassination attempt and died peacefully in 1928. His son, Adrian Crenshaw Jordan, assumed ownership of the Punta Gorda Herald until 1951.
Provided by: University of Florida