Williams family helmed newspaper generations

Published: Friday, November 30, 2012 at 12:47 PM.

BONIFAY — The year was 1892, and W.D. Williams established the Holmes County Advertiser at old Cerro Gordo, which was then the county seat.

According to an article published in the Advertiser on Oct. 8, 1921, and cited in the “Heritage of Holmes County,” Cerro Gordo was then the county seat.

The Holmes County Advertiser was founded, owned and operated by four generations of the Williams family.

“The exact spot where the building stood in which the first edition was printed is marked by the channel of the Choctawhatchee River, and all that is left of old Cerro Gordo is the memory and the little wooden jail, which is now less than twenty feet of the rapidly caving banks of the river, soon to be washed in and leaving nothing save the giant oaks to mark the spot where once was enacted the stirring scenes of those pioneer days,” the article stated.

The first edition of the Advertiser carried the motto “Labor is Honest and Pluck Wins,” a motto that remained on the front page for decades.  The motto was described as “this pithy sentence as its guiding rule, and it is certainly appropriate to say that it has required both labor and pluck in generous quantities to bring thepaper through the strenuous years of its existence.”

The newspaper was burned out twice, with no insurance. It was forced to temporarily suspend publication twice, was published in Cerro Gordo, Westville and Bonifay, and had been printed in a dozen or more towns and cities — all in the first 29 years of the newspaper’s existence, according to the article.

W.D. Williams served as editor except for the year 1908, when W. D. Brett Jr. took control of the newspaper.  However the Williams family resumed control in 1909, when Edward Arthur Williams Sr. became editor and publisher of the Advertiser.

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