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For many years, the DeLand Florida Agriculturalist was the only agricultural publication in the state. Established in 1878, the newspaper appeared weekly through 1907, became a monthly in 1908, and continued through June 1911 when it ceased publication. Its first editor was Christopher O. Codrington, a native of Jamaica and an importer of ornamental and exotic plants. Many of Codrington’s specimens were used in the landscaping of new Florida tourist attractions. Some catalogers of U.S. newspapers regard the Florida Agriculturalist as a periodical rather than as a newspaper, because plant orders could be sent to the newspaper’s subscriptions office. George P. Rowell and Co.'s American Newspaper Directory suggests that the Florida Agriculturalist was established as early as 1874, but this early appearance may have been a forerunner of the newspaper and perhaps even a catalog for Codrington’s plant business. The Codrington family published other newspapers in DeLand, among them the DeLand News.

In the 1884 edition of Edwin Aldin and Co.’s American Newspaper Catalogue, the Florida Agriculturalist is described as a large eight-page newspaper; the cost of a one-year subscription was two dollars. The newspaper informed readers of “the capabilities of the State of Florida, its productions and resources,” and it was “full of the experiences of Old Settlers and an instructor for the new.” “You will learn,” the American Newspaper Catalogue continued, ”from it all about Orange Culture and other Semi-Tropical fruit, Market Gardening, etc., besides much general information of interest about all parts of the State.” Prior to passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, a surprising number of Chinese immigrants made their way to Florida, and the Florida Agriculturalist strongly supported their role as farm laborers. The paper also reported on agriculture in general, shipping and railroad schedules, and other topics of interest to Florida’s farming communities.

By 1887, E.O. Painter had taken over as publisher and editor of the Florida Agriculturalist. Painter came to DeLand from New York at the age of sixteen, largely unschooled but an avid reader. He cleared land for his own orange grove and went to work for the Florida Agriculturalist as a journeyman printer. In 1885, Painter bought a half-interest in the newspaper and later acquired a whole interest, paid for by sale of an orange grove. Painter was so successful that the E.O. Painter Printing Company spun off from the Florida Agriculturalist and today remains one of Florida’s oldest and most successful printing firms. Painter continued as editor and owner of the Florida Agriculturalist until 1907, when he sold all of his rights and interests in the paper. Subsequently, the Florida Agriculturalist moved to Jacksonville, which because of its bustling port had supplanted DeLand as a major economic center.

Provided by: University of Florida