Simon Bolivar Champion

Biography courteously provided by Joyce Riedinger, Delaware County Coordinator.


SIMON BOLIVAR CHAMPION is among the influential inhabitants of the town of Stamford, where he is publisher of the leading Democratic paper of the county. He is probably one of the oldest editors in the empire State; for he established the Mirror in Bloomville, Delaware County, in 1851. The Champions are of old Connecticut stock, the first emigrant having settled in Saybrook in 1647, though later one branch of the family removed to Otsego County. Henry Champion, who came from England in 1645, was born in 1620; and succeeding Champions, through whom his blood reaches our subject, were born respectively in 1654, 1684, 1729, 1769. They were all able and enlightened men. One Henry Champion, born in 1729, was within five years of his half-century when the Revolution broke out; but he joined the army in May, 1776, and was rapidly promoted from office to office, till he became Captain. He was also connected with the engineering and commissary departments and for some time supplied Washington's army with fat cattle. Aaron Champion, born August 5, 1794, one hundred years ago, was a millwright, and married Elmina Brown, of Schenevus, N. Y.

Simon B. Champion, son of Aaron and Elmina, was born at East Worcester, in Otsego County, September 7, 1825. He attended the district schools till September 7, 1840, when he was fifteen, and then went to Cooperstown, to learn the printing trade with the Hon. J. H. Prentiss, in the office of the Freeman's Journal. In 1844, during the Democratic campaign which elected Polk and Dallas against Clay and Frelinghuysen, he was the Otsego correspondent of the Albany Argus, furnishing its readers with full reports of the Democratic meetings in Otsego County. After six years' apprenticeship in the Cooperstown printing-office, he became foreman, and worked for nine months as a journeyman printer. In 1847 he left Cooperstown for Prattsville in Greene County, where he entered into partnership with John L. Hackstaff, in the publication of the Prattsville Advocate, a Democratic paper. Among other new departures he placed a section of the paper under the special caption of "Home Matters," and was perhaps the pioneer in this method of arranging a local news department. After a couple of successful years his health gave way, and he moved to Bloomville, and, so far as strength would allow, worked in his father's grist-mill. As he grew stronger, however, his first love returned, and he established the Mirror on a small scale; but he soon had to enlarge it, so that during our war he had thirty-six hundred subscribers, a large number for the time and place. There were then only three other papers in the county, and at this date there are about twenty. In 1870 he removed the Mirror from Bloomville to Stamford, where it has been published ever since, and is one of the best country papers in this part of the State.

While no office-seeker, Mr. Champion has held many local positions of trust, never allowing them to interfere with the Mirror. In 1858 he declined a nomination to the State Assembly, though unanimously made, deeming this for the best interest of his paper. In 1860 he was the Democratic candidate for County Treasurer, and ran a hundred votes ahead of his ticket, but was defeated, like almost every Democrat, that being the year of the Lincoln avalanche. The same year he was appointed Assistant Marshal for taking the national census, having special charge of the towns of Kortright, Meredith, and Davenport. On January 3, 1861, he was one of the delegates to the celebrated Democratic Peace Convention at Albany, and in 1868 was one of the Presidential Electors, casting his vote with the New York delegation for Horatio Seymour for President of the United States, against General Grant. Always willing to bear his share of any duty, he has frequently been a member of county and State conventions, and was in 1856-57 Postmaster at Bloomville, and 1870-71-72 Deputy Postmaster at Stamford. He has been Trustee of village schools, a member of the Stamford Board of Education, High-priest of Delta Chapter, No. 185, of Royal Arch Masons, etc.

In 1857 Mr. Champion married Mary L. McCollum, who was born March 21, 1829, a daughter of Reuben McCollum, of Bloomville; and they have reared four children, two sons and two daughters. Amasa Junius Champion was born April 10, 1858, and married Mary Rexford. Elmina Champion was born July 20, 1860, and is the wife of John Dewitt Church. Clifford Champion was born May 2, 1864. Lucy Brown Champion was born on October 8, 1869, and died December 31, 1873. Nellie Champion was born January 27, 1873.

Amasa J. Champion learned the printing business in his father's office. After graduating at the Stamford Seminary in 1885, he published the Davenport Transcript. In 1891 he sold the plant to Walter Scott. After a vacation he bought the Hobart Independent at Hobart, published a year, and then disposed of his interest in that paper to a stock company, and went back to his father's offices, where he is assistant editor, and has a stationery and book store. Mr. Champion's youngest son, Clifford, after finishing his studies at the Stamford Seminary, learned the printing business with his father, and does the job printing. In April, 1894, he and F. G. Hartwell started the Prattsville Advocate at Prattsville, Greene County, a bright, newsy Democratic sheet, which already has a circulation of nearly a thousand copies per week. For a short time he was a Clerk in the Treasury Department at Washington, bestowed upon him in part because of devotion of the Champions to the Democratic party. A famous journalist has truly said--and the career of the Champions confirms its truth--"Journalism is an immense power, that threatens soon to supersede sermons, lectures, and books."


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