Newspapers in Duval County, Part 2

 


In June 1958, Clarence Schroeder, another Freedom Party supporter, began publication of the Duval County Maverick. Like Marroquin’s New Duval, it lasted only several months in business before suspending publication in November of the same year.

Schroeder also doubled as the Republican County Chairman in Duval County. Like Marroquin, Schroeder served a healthy dose of political fare. Unlike Marroquin, Schroeder, made an effort to keep his opinion in the editorial rather than the news columns.

Besides the Facts and the Picture, the only other newspapers in Duval County to publish for an extended period were La Libertad, a Spanish language weekly started circa 1903, the Freer Enterprise and the Freer Press. Records of other publications are sketchy but it shows a number of other newspapers attempted to make it a go in Duval County.

The earliest mention of a newspaper is of The Bell Punch in 1882. Other newspapers of the early era included Eco Liberal (also owned by La Libertad publisher Francisco P. de Gonzalez, circa 1889), El Sordo (1889), The San Diego Weekly Sun (1891-1897), The Duval County Circuit (1910), San Diego Journal (1928) and La Voz (1930s).

The only newspaper of record to report the shootout in San Diego in May 1912 that gave rise to the Parr regime was La Libertad. Five months later, on Oct. 12, 1912, it published a special edition "In Memoriam" of the fallen Mexican-American officials. The newspaper pointed out that the history of San Diego had been one of unequaled harmony up to that time. After the May assassination, mourning and hate filled the town’s residents.

La Libertad asked what the community could expect from a political party that had its genesis in the spilling of Mexican blood. It reported that talk was already circulating that Democratic Party Chairman Archie Parr would be the next victim of assassination.

In its Aug. 3, 1912 edition, Gonzalez prophetically wrote that if the people were loyal to Parr, his party would not lose but would go on to enjoy "triumph after triumph until all citizens of the county joined the banner of just one party."

No one assassinated Parr and he went on to establish himself as the only political party in Duval County for decades to come.

By the time I began publication of the Duval County Picture, the political turmoil in the county had calmed down a great deal. To be sure, people still took their politics seriously, but violence was no longer part of the culture.

The 1980s and 1990s in Duval County were much different from the 1950s. Back then, it was war. During my era, it was a time of rebuilding and reconstruction. Reformers were on guard not to slide back to the bad old days, but it was a not a violent era.

In 1986, after thinking hard about it and consulting with my wife, we decided to pursue my childhood dream of operating a newspaper. My father had published the Spanish weekly La Voz in Duval County for a short period in the 1930s, well before my birth. My only experience in journalism had been as editor of the award-winning El Vaquero, the school newspaper at San Diego High School.

The only newspaper in the county at the time was the Freer Free Press, which had started publishing in 1983. The newspaper later changed its name to the Freer Press because too many readers thought the "free" in the name meant they did not have to pay for it, instead of its real meaning as in a constitutionally free press. Its circulation and coverage, however, was limited to Freer. The remainder of the county had no local news outlet.

Armed with a Radio Shack Color Computer, a modest investment from a silent partner and a dream, I set out to publish a newspaper. The first issue took a full two weeks to produce and I wondered what I had gotten us into. How would we publish a weekly newspaper if it took us two weeks to put one together? We pushed on, never missing a deadline. We sold the newspaper in 1998 and I continued as editor until the end of 1999.