Delaware County NY Genealogy and History Site

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The following is a part of a collection of articles written by Karen Cuccinello of the Stamford Village library history room, mostly pertaining to Stamford, and originally submitted to the Mt. Eagle. We are pleased to share them here with all our Delaware County researchers.

Simon Bolivar Champion

I have seen Mr. Champion referred to as S.B., S. Bolivar, Simon B. and Champ. He was said to be the oldest newspaper man in New York State in 1901, having been the founder, proprietor and editor of the Bloomville and Stamford Mirror, since 1851.

Simon Bolivar was the second of eight children born to Aaron and Elmira in East Worcester September 7, 1825. I suspect he got his name from Simon Bolivar (1783-1830) the Champion of Liberty who led a good portion of South America to independence and supposedly his uncle Reuben had the same sentiments. He went to district schools until 1840 then became an apprentice at the Freemans Journal newspaper in Cooperstown for six years. For a brief time in 1844 he was the Otsego County Democratic campaign correspondent to the Albany Argus. In 1847 he worked at the Prattsville Advocate where it is believed that he pioneered the local news department as he created a column called “Home Matters”. Health issues forced him to move to Bloomville where he worked at his father’s grist mill and occasionally at the Schoharie Republic. Then with minimal resources he formed the Bloomville Mirror newspaper in 1851 making the forth newspaper in Delaware County at the time.

His papers were published on Tuesdays and started out with a subscription rate of .25 per year, then went to .50 in 1860 and $1.00 in the 1870’s-1890’s. The first Bloomville Mirrors were 5 ½” X 8 ½” then after a few years they grew. In 1870 the Bloomville Mirror moved to Stamford where Simon purchased the Stevens Hotel. The Stamford Mirror came out in a new dress (new look) in 1888. In 1890 the Mirror was enlarged from a five to a seven column paper.

In 1857 he married Mary Louisa McCollum (1829-1908) daughter of Reuben of Bloomville in Charlotteville, NY. They had four children Amasa Junius “AJ” (1858-1910) married Mary Rexford in 1883, Elmira Brown (1860-?) married John Dewitt Church in North Blenheim in 1883, Lucy Brown (1869-1873), Clifford, his real first name was Aaron but I don’t believe he ever used it (1866-1937) married Nellie Poppino 1904 in Stamford, NY (D:1947) and Nellie S. (1873-1911).

I found one mention of Mrs. Champion in a 1904 article for falling down the cellar stars and being badly bruised from the fall. All but Clifford and Elmira are buried in Riverside Cemetery in Bloomville.

Both of the boys graduated from the Stamford Seminary and were in the newspaper or printing business either with their father or on their own. In 1885 A.J. Champion purchased the Charlotte Valley News, a Davenport, NY paper. He perhaps changed the name to the Davenport Transcript and owned it for about five years then bought the Hobart Independent. In 1904-05 he established a Bloomville Mirror for about a year and tried again in 1908. He also leased the Margaretville Utilitarian and worked at the Griffin Corners Herald in 1908. He is in the Delaware County poor house briefly in 1909 due to poor health. He had been working in Afton December 1909 then was at the Masonic Home in Utica, followed by a stay with W.F. Clark of Hobart. Fox Hospital in Oneonta was his last stop as he died there in April 1910, he was said to have been an invalid, more or less, for a long time.

In 1894 Clifford was co-owner of the Prattsville Advocate and in 1899 he became the sole owner of the Tivoli Times published in Madalin, NY. He was a Stamford Police Justice/Justice of the Peace 1890’s-1928 and became a Republican after his father died. In June of 1902 he and E.A. Ackley of the Hobart Independent printed a daily, The Mirror-Independent, for the duration of the Montgomery Murder trial held in Delhi. Clifford married Miss Nellie Poppino in 1904 and in 1905 sold the Stamford Mirror to the Stamford Recorder, and both papers were consolidated and sold to Leo H. DeSilva of Grand Gorge. DeSilva was new to the newspaper business and a Republican, so changing the flavor of the paper after being a Democratic paper for over 50 years (Leo sold the paper in 1948). In 1910 Clifford founded a new paper the Stamford Item, which lasted less than a year.

A 1925 article stated Mrs. Clifford Champion fell on the icy sidewalk and broke her ankle, and in the same year they had a Chimney fire at their home on Academy St.

In October of 1892 both of the boys went to NYC to review the Columbus Celebration and in 1893 Clifford went to the Chicago World’s Fair. A.J. contested his father’s will because the business was willed to Clifford and his mother. He withdrew his complaint and the will went to probate in November of 1903.

Nellie Champion was still a “Miss” visiting friends in an 1892 article. July 21, 1900 Delaware Republican-Miss Nellie Champion has been visiting in Delhi. She expects to graduate from Spencer’s Business College as a stenographer and tyrewriter, and has a good position assured her in the office of Dr. David Kennedy of Kingston. In 1904 she ran a boarding house in Kingston.

Some tib-bits about Simon: 1860 ran for Delaware County Treasurer -1877 he was appointed a Notary Public – 1878 from the Taxable Inhabitants of Stamford he owns 2 ¼ acres of land valued at $1,800 – 1883 was corresponding secretary of the Stamford Board of Trade - 1889 chairman for the new Cleveland and Thurman Democratic Club - around 1900 Simon wrote a testimonial about Dr. David Kennedys Calcura Solvent helping his rheumatism - July 1903 rode in an automobile for the first time - was a lifelong Democrat, having held several local offices, a delegate to a number of county and state conventions - boyhood and lifelong friend of millionaire Jay Gould- was a Mason- I believe he only had one grandchild, Elsie Church born 1885. The Champions took her to visit Miss Helen Gould in NYC in 1893.

Simon was ailing with rheumatism for about 10 years before he passed away September 9, 1903. His funeral took place in his home then a special train took his casket to Bloomville so his friends could view his remains there. The grave side service was conducted by the Masons at the Bloomville cemetery. I suspect he was thought highly of in the community and was probably quite a character, but one thing that stands out to me was that his lengthy glowing obituary, that he wrote for himself a few years before his death, makes no mention of his family. At any rate he was certainly an integral part of Bloomville and Stamford for over 50 years.

References – Simon’s personal scrapbook that was given to the library by Mrs. Josephine Sanford in 1967, Bloomville and Stamford Mirror newspapers, photographs and letters to Champ housed at the Stamford Village Library. I also double checked some of the information with Google searches on the internet, and

submitted by Karen Cuccinello - posted to this website February 4, 2015


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