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The Live Oak Suwannee Democrat is one of the oldest continuously published weeklies in the State of Florida. It began in 1884 in Live Oak, which at the turn of the century was the fifth largest city in Florida, preceded only by Jacksonville, Pensacola, Tampa, and Key West. The Suwannee Democrat enjoyed a corresponding reputation as a journalistic leader in the state.

As its name suggests, the newspaper in its early days was affiliated with the Democratic Party. Its first editor hid under an assumed name when he was suspected of murder. A deathbed confession by the actual perpetrator allowed him to resume his true identity: F.R. McCormack, about whom, however, little else is known. From 1906 through 1907, the Suwannee Democrat was supplemented by the Live Oak Daily Democrat, edited by Charles W. Irwin.

The rural character of early 20th-century Suwannee County, well known for its grist and lumber mills and poultry farms, is visible in the pages of the Suwannee Democrat. Indeed, over the years the newspaper has won numerous awards from the Florida Press Association for the quality of its agricultural reporting.

Fires have taken their toll on the Suwannee Democrat. In 1906, a disgruntled printer left Live Oak by railroad on the night that the newspaper’s offices were burned to the ground. In October 1995, a fire destroyed a historic block of Live Oak’s downtown, and the newspaper’s office was one of the casualties. Lost in the fire were the last known issues of the Suwannee Democrat dating from 1897 through 1900.

Provided by: University of Florida