By the time Katharine Graham became publisher of the Washington Post in 1963, Margaret Bazzell had already been the publisher for The Dade City Banner for 20 years.
Both women became owners of their family owned newspapers upon the deaths of their husbands.
Succeeding in a male-dominated industry, Graham was the first female publisher of a major American newspaper. Her paper’s coverage of the Watergate scandal eventually led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon in 1974.
Bazzell became the first female publisher in Pasco County during World War II. Her husband died when he was just 42.
The newspaper reported the death under the headline — “H. S. Bazzell died suddenly Sunday p.m.,” spelled out in all capital letters.
An account, published Jan. 22, 1943, said in part: “When an employee is called upon to chronicle the passing of his employer and intimate friend it borders on the impossible.”
Prior to the Banner’s first publication on July 25, 1913, it chose a name that was briefly considered for Pasco County in 1887.
Volume 1, number 1 of the Banner was a “well-edited and well-appearing paper,” observed its first editor John Tippen.
Published on the Banner’s front page was a picture of “the beautiful Edwinola Hotel.” It was completed the previous year at a cost of about $50,000.
The structure was described this way in the Banner: “It is a fire-proof concrete building of three stories, containing 32 guest rooms, all of which are located on the second and third floors, the first floor being used for office, parlor and a dining room.”
In a notice to its readers and advertisers in 1915, the Banner promised “to conduct a clean, wholesome newspaper, which will give in every instance a fair deal to all.”
For much of the Banner’s history, that public pledge was followed by Margaret Bazzell.
During her time as owner and publisher until 1968, Margaret Bazzell would see her son, Harley S. Bazzell Jr., become editor.
She also hired her daughter-in-law Roszlyn “Ro” Bazzell (who died earlier this year); Harold Taylor, as typesetter; and William R. Branas, as advertising manager.
Calling itself “Pasco County’s Leading Newspaper,” the Banner became a daily and would eventually cover all of East and Central Pasco County, including the towns of Blanton, Dade City, Land O’ Lakes, Richland, Ridge Manor, San Antonio, Trilby, Gator (Wesley Chapel) and Zephyrhills.
“We lived within walking distance of our jobs,” former reporter Nell Moody Woodcock recalls on the Pasco County history website Fivay.org.
Keeping a finger on the pulse on Pasco
“The Banner was the newspaper of record for legal advertisements. Hard news was generated at the Pasco County Courthouse or city hall,” Woodcock recalls.
It was convenient that the Coleman and Ferguson Funeral Home was located on the opposite side of Seventh Street from the Banner.
“Their ambulances were called to emergencies, and a check with the front office would reveal the location and severity of the incident,” explains Woodcock, who grew up in Lacoochee and later retired as a staff reporter with The Tampa Tribune.
Readers especially enjoyed the Society Page by editor Catherine H. McIntosh. This section of the Banner was filled with articles about children’s birthday parties, families entertaining out-of-town guests, and weddings that were not complete without full descriptions of the dresses worn by the brides.
Typical was the following published on June 30, 1952: “Given in marriage by her father, the bride (Miss Vivian Bailey) wore a gown of candlelight satin with the full skirt terminating in a cathedral train. An overskirt of princess lace was a feature of the gown, which was fashioned with a basque bodice, with jewel neckline and long fitted sleeves with points over the hands. Her fingertip veil of illusion fell from a Queen of Scots cap, caught with orange blossoms, and appliqued with princess lace. She carried a shower bouquet of lilies of the valley and stephanotis, centered with a white orchid.”
With no door-to-door delivery, “subscribers got the paper in the mail (and) those who were in the military could learn all about what was happening back home by having the paper mailed to them,” according to the Fivay.org website.
That included local sports coverage by Gerald Newton, who was hired by the Banner in 1965 while still a 23-year-old student at Southeastern Bible College in Lakeland.
“I was once warned about being too wordy with some of my articles,” Newton posted on his Facebook page for Feb. 23, 2020.
The 1979 Dade City Little League state championship and the 1992 Pasco Pirate state title were covered during his 47-year career that spanned three newspapers following the Banner, as well as sports director for radio station WDCF in Dade City, and as a coach and teacher for Pasco County Schools.
Nearly 3,000 issues of The Dade City Banner are part of the digital collections on file at the University of Florida.
Preserving the newspaper began with efforts by the Pasco County Genealogy Society in 2000.
“They thought it would be a good idea to start indexing the births, deaths and marriages in The Dade City Banner,” explains Glen Thompson, a member of the Friends of the Hugh Embry Library in Dade City.
Following seven years of work on issues printed from 1913 to 1923, these copies were sent to the University of Florida. Also shipped out were Banners found in a dumpster, and others stored in archival boxes at city hall.
According to Angelo Liranzo, the library’s manager, copies of The Dade City Banner were digitized from 1914 to 1971 at a cost of approximately $15,000.
While the digital files are all PDF, the original papers still survive.
They chronicle news including construction of the new Evans bulk orange juice concentrate facilities south of Dade City in 1957, and the closing of the Cummer & Sons Cypress Company in 1959.
But, the stories of generations of families are the primary history that is preserved, in part, on the pages of The Dade City Banner.
The records are not clear, but sometime between 1973 and 1974, The Dade City Banner changed its name to The Pasco News under new management.
Doug Sanders has a penchant for unearthing interesting stories about local history. His sleuthing skills have been developed through his experiences in newspaper and government work. If you have an idea for a future history column, contact Doug at .
Published October 07, 2020