1894 – 1909
Citrus County and the Citrus County Chronicle were both created just in time to witness the dawn of a new century – 1900 – a time when the U.S. was emerging as a world power, the west had been won and the automobile age was well under way.
At the time Hernando County consisted of what is now Pasco, Hernando and Citrus counties. Poor transportation to the county seat of Brooksville and other factors made the creation of smaller counties desirable.
So on June 2, 1887, a law passed by the state legislature designated the formation of Citrus County.
The Chronicle was founded by Floral City resident Albert M. Williamson, who would become state senator and a citrus grove owner.
Editor J.F. Sherwood set the small type and layouts by hand.
The ads were a sign of the times. A pound of sugar went for 5 cents, fresh eggs sold for 8 to 11 cents a dozen, and coffee was 21 and 22 cents a pound. Chickens and turkeys were offered at 10 cents a pound and so were sugar-cured hams.
Sherwood, it is recorded, sold the paper to a Rev. Geiger at the time when Jim Priest was sheriff, George Carter was his deputy, and Walter Warnock was county clerk.
Warnock took over ownership of the Chronicle in the 1890s and began to formulate the character of the paper with news items and features.
Warnock was appointed deputy clerk of Circuit Court in 1897 and was elected Clerk of Circuit Court in 1900. After his election Warnock listed himself as editor and proprietor of the Chronicle and George Butler as “local editor.”
Despite the Big Freeze of 1884-85 the citrus industry was still viable and the phosphate boom was fueling the growth and economics of the county.
The state geologist issued a report that in 1909 a total of 34 phosphate plants were operating in Citrus County. An article in the newspaper reported that “more phosphate was being mined in this county at the time than any other county in the state.”
During the peak, Hernando, Holder, Inverness and Floral City were all part of the boom. The Floral City area had a population of approximately 10,000.