In 2011, members of the Osteen family have been involved in newspapering in Sumter, S.C., for over 150 years, which is believed to be the longest continuous family involvement in a newspaper in South Carolina, and one of the longest in the United States. It is also the oldest family-owned business in Sumter.

A history of The Item, South Carolina's first small town daily newspaper, is not complete without mention of The Watchman and Southron, its antecedent, which was the creation of N.G. Osteen, the patriarch of the family that owns and operates the newspaper today. Noah Graham Osteen began his career in the newspaper

business at the age of 12, when he joined The Sumter Watchman in 1855 as an apprentice. After completing his apprenticeship in 1861, he moved to Conway, to run a newspaper started by the owners of The Watchman, H.L. Darr and A.A. Gilbert. The newspaper, the Horry Dispatch, was discontinued in 1862 because of the upheaval caused by the Civil War. Mr. Osteen worked for awhile in Columbia at a printing company, and following the war, joined a newspaper in Charleston, the Carolinian.

When that newspaper folded in 1866, Mr. Osteen returned to Sumter to become a partner with H.L. Darr in operating a newspaper Mr. Darr had started, The Sumter News.

In 1874 The Sumter News' name was changed to The True Southron. In 1881, in partnership with the Rev. C.C. Brown, Mr. Osteen bought The Sumter Watchman and consolidated it with The True Southron into The Watchman and Southron. He later bought sole controlling interest in the newspaper and continued to operate it until 1930, when it was consolidated into The Sumter Daily Item.

Before that, his son, Hubert Graham Osteen, had worked with him as editor from 1891 to 1894 when, on Oct. 15, 1894, he founded The Sumter Daily Item. Aided and supported by his father, H.G. Osteen operated The Item as editor and publisher. By 1924, his son, Hubert Duvall Osteen, had joined him in running the newspaper. In 1946, H.G. Osteen retired, retaining the title of president of Osteen

Publishing Co. Inc. until his death on March 30, 1955. (N.G. Osteen died on Nov. 8, 1936.)

H.D. Osteen remained as editor and publisher of The Sumter Daily Item until 1972, when his son, Hubert Duvall Osteen Jr., who had joined The Item in May of 1963, was named editor. H.D. Osteen retained the title of publisher until 1984, when H.D. Osteen Jr. became editor and publisher. He now holds the position of editor of The Item and chairman of Osteen Publishing Co.

H.D. Osteen retired from active management of the company on Dec. 1, 1986, but was chairman of the company at the time of his death on April 14, 1987. He was succeeded as chairman by his wife, Margaret Weeks Osteen, who held that position until her death on May 3, 1996.

The fifth generation of Osteens is involved in directing The Item and Osteen Publishing Co. Hubert Graham Osteen II is editor at large and co-president and secretary of Osteen Publishing Co. Kyle Brown Osteen is co-president of Osteen Publishing Co. John Duvall (Jack) Osteen is publisher of The Item and a vice president of Osteen Publishing Co. Larry Miller serves as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the company.

In September 2011, the Osteen family purchased four publications in the Jacksonville, Fla., area from Journal Community Publishing Group, Inc., a subsidiary of Journal Communications, Inc., of Milwaukee, Wis.

Weekly publications and corresponding websites are Clay Today, Clay County Leader, the Ponte Vedra Recorder, and the Car Connection, a weekly magazine serving Jacksonville-area auto dealers.

The Florida properties fall under a division of Osteen Publishing Co. - OPC News, LLC - which is owned by the brothers and managed by Miller.

The Ponte Vedra Recorder has been the essential source of community news and information for Ponte Vedra and Jacksonville Beaches residents and businesses since 1969.

The Recorder has a strong tradition of being family owned and family operated at its core, although it has inevitably switched hands over its 43-year lifespan.

Peggy Fairchild Bradford, a resident of Ponte Vedra for more than 40 years, founded the Recorder and acted as publisher, editor and manager of the paper until she passed away in 1984. Her son, Timothy B. Bradford, wrote in an article that her purpose in founding the Recorder was to provide a vehicle to promote the Ponte Vedra community and its residents.

Following Peggy's death, the Recorder changed hands to her son, Timothy. In 1997, management and ownership of the Recorder passed once again, this time to Timothy's wife, Pamela Bradford. Today, The Ponte Vedra Recorder is owned by OPC News, LLC, which is owned by members of the Osteen family in Sumter, S.C. The family also has holdings in Osteen Publishing Company, Inc., a Sumter newspaper operation that has been in their family for more than a century.

The Ponte Vedra Recorder publishes every Thursday via both paid subscriptions and rack locations throughout Ponte Vedra and the Beaches.

For interested advertisers, The Ponte Vedra Recorder's deadline to reserve advertising space, including classified advertisements, is 5 p.m. Thursday the week prior to desired publication.

Since its beginnings more than 60 years ago, Clay Today and its predecessors have played important role in providing essential news stories and features for its Clay County, Fla., readers.

Now published every Thursday, Clay Today reaches out to every corner of our county's 640 square miles to bring the most pertinent and helpful news and retail advertising in a compact, easy-to-read format.

The newspaper began in the 1950s as a weekly publication and was originally called The Breeze. It was renamed Clay Today in 1968 and was published Tuesday through Saturday to serve primarily in the Orange Park area.

Clay Today purchased another Clay County weekly publication, the Clay County Crescent, in the early 1990's and those readerships were combined, giving the expanded publication a broader base of circulation throughout all of Clay County. The Crescent and Clay Today staffs also were merged. In 2007, Clay Today purchased the Clay County Leader in a move that strengthened both publications and gave them both a chance to reach a still wider audience of readers. The Leader continues today as a free publication filled with sample stories and advertisements that originally appeared in Clay Today.

Clay Today offers mail subscriptions to those living in-county or anywhere around the world. It is also distributed at more than 200 stores, restaurants, retail stores and service stations around the county.

The Leader is distributed at more than 50 outlets and directly mailed to homes in Pace Island, Fleming Island Plantation, Eagle Harbor, Margaret's Walk, Magnolia Point and the Ravines. Clay Today and the Leader reach a combined weekly readership of more than 31,000 people.

Always committed to keeping pace with modern publishing trends and efficient methods of delivering news, Clay Today provides its readers with an attractive, cutting-edge Internet site called Readers who want breaking news from Clay County know they can always check the website 24 hours a day, seven days a week for the latest news, features, advertising and general community facts and details. Regardless of the way the information is transmitted, Clay Today remains committed to serving the communities of Orange Park, Middleburg, Penney Farms, Keystone Heights, Green Cove Springs, Lake Asbury, Doctors Inlet, Fleming Island and Oakleaf.

Larger publications and television stations and radio stations from the Jacksonville market cover Clay County, but none of them can say they are a Clay County exclusive — only Clay Today can claim that all-important title.

Today, Clay Today is owned by OPC News, LLC, which is owned by members of the Osteen family in Sumter, S.C. The family also has holdings in Osteen Publishing Company, Inc., a Sumter newspaper operation that has been in their family for more than a century.