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The Ocaleean ensign / [volume] : (Ocala, Fla) 1917-19??
Place of publication:
Ocala, Fla
Geographic coverage:
  • Ocala, Marion, Florida  |  View more titles from this: City County, State
Student body of the Ocala High School
Dates of publication:
  • Began in 1917?
  • English
  • Florida--Ocala.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01215855
  • Ocala (Fla.)--Newspapers.
  • Student newspapers and periodicals--Florida--Ocala.
  • Student newspapers and periodicals.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01135965
  • Archived issues are available in digital format from the Library of Congress Chronicling America online collection.
  • Description based on: Vol. 1, no. 6 (Jan. 31, 1918).
  • Latest issue consulted: Vol. 1, no. 12 (May 9, 1918).
  • Published every other Thursday during the school year.
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The Ocaleean ensign / [volume] January 31, 1918 , Image 1


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The Ocaleean Ensign

Ocala is located in Marion County, Florida, and was selected as the county seat in 1846, shortly after Florida became a state. The name "Ocala" comes from the Timucuan Indians who were the first to inhabit the region and who named it "Ocalim" which means "big hammock." In the 1850s, wealthy farmers from South Carolina settled the area and began to develop plantations. The population soon rose to 1,200-1,500, and Ocala became a leading social and business center in Florida. However, the town suffered during the Civil War when population decreased to about 200. So many of its residents had enrolled in the Confederate Army that plantations were left to grow over with weeds and many businesses were abandoned. After the war, Ocala again prospered thanks to three flourishing industries: steamboats, citrus, and turpentine. Although Jacksonville remained the most popular Florida destination, many visitors boarded steam boats that took them down the St. John's River to nearby Silver Springs. Meanwhile, the citrus industry took off after two Ocala natives confirmed the discovery of phosphate in nearby Dunnellon. The Dunnellon Phosphate Company invested $1.2 million in 8,000 acres of land, making Florida's orange orchards world famous. Finally, the region's turpentine industry also became important, leading to the construction of stills and sawmills, as well as many of the homes that now make up Ocala's historic district.

The Ocaleean Ensign published its first issue on November 8, 1917. It appeared every other Thursday under the direction of students at the local high school. Although it is unclear when Ocala High School first opened its doors, 76 students were reportedly in attendance in 1877. (The school closed in the 1960s and was replaced by Forest High, which is still open today.) The Ocaleean Ensign was entered as second-class matter at the Ocala Post Office and cost $0.05 per copy or $0.75 per year. Miss Anna Belle Wesson was the paper's first editor-in-chief, but within a few days she was succeeded by Miss Rozelle Watson. The paper included sections on current history, music, home economics, as well as an "expression" section that included jokes told by students in class, dances, trips, and other school news. The Ensign also offered two athletic sections, one for boys and one for girls. Reporting focused mainly on the "Wildcats," Florida's well-known girls' basketball team which had a winning record at the time. It also reported on school events including classes offered and exam honor rolls. Also covered in the Ensign was local news in Ocala, as well as news about World War I, with tribute to alumni who had served or were serving in the military at the time. The Ocaleean Ensign was associated with the Ocala Evening Star, whose editors proofread the Ensign's content prior to printing. The Ocala Evening Star also reprinted articles from the Ensign and encouraged its readers to support the "brightest school paper."

Provided by: University of Florida