Page 308Transcribed by: Jeanie Lowe
The first newspaper was established in Petersburg in the fall of 1854. It was published by S.B. Dugger, and was called the Petersburg Express. After conducting it for about a year, he disposed of it to Henry L. Clay, and it became neutral in politics, and its name changed to the Menard Index. In September 1858, he sold it to Hobart Hamilton and a man named Brooks, who changed it into a Republican paper, and continued its publication until 1863, when it was sold and removed fro the county. Brooks continued with Hamilton about a year, and says after changing the politics of the paper, and sending out the first issue as a Republican sheet, its patrons became very much enraged, and would come to the office by scores with their papers wadded up in their hands, and, throwing them at the door, would exclaim, "There's your --- Abolition paper." Shortly before the removal of the Index, the Northwestern Baptist, a religious paper, was issued from the Index office, and edited by M.P. Hartly. After Hamilton changed the Index into a Republican paper, the Menard County Axis, a Democratic organ, was established with C. Clay as editor and publisher. Its first issue was April 12, 1859, and was continued by Clay until 1867, when it was purchased by a joint-stock company, with M.B. Friend as editor, and its named changed to the Petersburg Democrat, which name it still retains. Mr. Friend remained in charge of the paper until 1871, when E. T. McElwain became editor. He continued in editorial control until July 1, 1877, when he was succeeded by A.E. Mick. July 1, 1878, Mr. Mick associated S. S. Knoles with him in its publication, and so the firm continues to the present time.
During the campaign of Fillmore, Bucanan and Fremont, in 1856, William Glenn started a paper called the Fillmore Bugle, but it ceased at the close of the campaign. In June 1868, the Menard County Republican was established with Richard Richardson as editor. He sold out in about a year to John T. McNeely, who conducted it until 1871, when Bennett & Zane became the proprietors. About a year after, Zane was succeeded by John Frank, who soon retired, and was followed by F.M. Bryant, who likewise remained but a short time, and Bennett continued alone in its control for a time. F.J. Dubois then became a partner, and assumed editorial control for a year. The material of the Republican was sold to John Frank early in 1874, who had started a new paper the August preceding, called the Menard County Times. It and the Republican were now consolidated and published under the name of the Times. Frank sold out to F.M. Bryant, who continued the paper until May 9, 1878, when he sold it to G.W. Cain & Parks. Cain had been publishing a paper in Tallula, and when he bought out Taylor, he changed the name of the paper to the Petersburg Observer. The paper is now devoted to the Greenback and Labor party, and is still under control of Cain & Parks.
On the 4th day of September of the present year, the Petersburg Republican made its first appearance. The salutatory is signed by Martin & Davis, and from it we make the following extract: "We expect to do our utmost to maintain and build up the Republican Party as well as the interests of Petersburg and Menard County, and, in return therefore, simply ask a liberal share of the public's patronage." The late hour at which this newspaper was born into the world, had well nigh excluded a notice of it from this work, and these few lines are all the history of it that we were able to obtain.