Marshall, Illinois newspapers

[note: this page is still in process]

Marshall, Illinois, has hosted a variety of newspapers over the last century and a half.  An historian writing in 1882 said of the newspapers in Marshall:

Journalism here, in the language of a noted politician, has been a “halcyon and vociferous proceeding.” There has never been manifested any loss for language to express editorial convictions or to characterize the views or conduct of opposing writers, and much of the editorial writing has been marked more by forcible than elegant expression. In common with most early newspapers, those of Marshall have given much more space and effort to the cultivation of public opinion than to the dissemination of local news, which, perhaps, the nature of early communities and their surroundings more fully warranted than at present. But with the growth and development of the town, the newspaper has developed until Marshall is now represented by four weekly papers equal in ability to any of the surrounding towns. [1]

Fortunately for researchers, some issues of these early newspapers have been preserved. The Marshall Public Library is in the process of digitizing its microfilm collection of early Marshall newspapers, through the generosity of the Friends of the Library. The digitized newspapers can be viewed and searched online.

The following is a history of newspaper publishing in Marshall.

Illinois State Democrat (1848-1853)

The first paper published in Marshall was the Illinois State Democrat. It was democratic in politics, and was owned and conducted by John M. Crane and Nathan Willard. The paper showed considerable ability, the senior editor being a man of some editorial experience, though of somewhat erratic habits. Late in 1848, soon after the paper was established, Mr. Crane withdrew, leaving Mr. Willard sole proprietor, who continued its publication until the spring of 1853, developing a native capacity which gained for him an enviable reputation as a journalist. At this time he sold the paper to J. C. Robinson and Jacob Zimmerman, who reinforced it by the purchase of the Marshall Telegraph, an opposing paper which had sprung up in the campaign of 1852, and changed the name of the combined journals to the Eastern Illinoisan.

Marshall Telegraph (1852-1853), (1854-1857)

This paper was started to aid the Whig campaign of 1852, with Messrs. Jones & Farley as editors and proprietors. This venture was the outgrowth of a general desire of the Whig supporters for an organ and prominent members of the party  invested considerable money in furnishing the office. The paper subsequently passed into the hands of Charles Summers, who sold it to J. C. Robinson and Jacob Zimmerman, who combined it with the Illinois State Democrat under the banner of the Eastern Illinoisan.

In April or May of the following year Messrs. E. Callahan and S. F. Andrews, issued another paper of “Know Nothing ” proclivities, reviving the name of the Marshall Telegraph. Mr. Callahan retired from the management in the following fall, Mr. Andrews conducting it in the support of the Republican party until the winter of 1857–8, when its publication was suspended.

Eastern Illinoisan (1853-1865), (1878-_____)

In 1853, J. C. Robinson and Jacob Zimmerman bought the Marshall Telegraph and the Illinois State Democrat and combined the two papers under the new name The Eastern Illinoisan. In December, 1856, S.S. Whitehead became the new proprietor. He had been editor during the most of the preceding campaign. Several gentlemen were associated with Mr. Whitehead in the business management of the paper at various times until in 1861; when it became evident that the civil war was soon to occur, he sold out his entire interest in the Illinoisan to H. H. Peyton, “to avoid the heat and anger sure to result.”  The latter gentleman, however, entered the army in August, 1861, and Mr. Whitehead was compelled to take the paper into his own control. The publication was continued until 1865 when, public duties making it impossible for him to attend to its management, he sold the office to Mr. John Littlefield. For nearly thirteen years its publication ceased, but in January, 1878, its publication was revived and became the organ of the more pronounced wing of the Democratic party. In its later version, it was a six-column folio, devoted principally to politics.

Marshall Journal (1854-1859)

In June or July, 1854, Messrs. N. O. McKeen and John A. Whitlock started the Marshall Journal in the interest of the Republican party which continued until the fall of 1859, when it was absorbed by the Illinoisan. It was edited by John A. Whitlock alone, after Mr. McKeen’s retirement in the early part of 1858, and subsequently by Dr. W. S. Goodell, who published it as an independent organ, until its demise.

Marshall Hornet (1859-18??)

This newspaper was published by Edward L’Hote. Description based on: Vol. 1, no. 4 (Nov. 1, 1859). Latest issue consulted: Oct. 17, 1860.

The Flag of Our Union (1861-1864)

The Flag of Our Union, was a five-column folio, started on May 30, 1861. The leading principles of this paper are suggested by its title. The Illinoisan was hostile to the prosecution of the war by the North, and while its attitude in this met with the support of a considerable element in the county, the majority of the people, without regard to political faith, called for an exponent of the Union sentiment. It was in response to this sentiment and some more substantial encouragement, that John Littlefield began the publication of the Flag. His political affiliation had been with the “Know Nothings,” but in this venture, he cautiously planted himself on the Union side of current questions. In his first article Mr. Littlefield said: “We shall contend for a strict observance of the Constitution and the enforcement of the laws. * * * We shall ignore politics and discussions as to the cause of the war. But, in the language of Stephen A. Douglas, ‘fight the battles of our country first, and talk about the causes after.’” This newspaper venture was started on small capital and limited editorial experience, but it gradually gained support until it passed beyond the stage of an experiment to a regular institution of the county. The publication of the Flag was suspended, however, at,the end of the third volume, when the editor entered the army, but did not leave the State.

Available issues:

1861: May 30

Marshall Messenger (1865-????)

In April, 1865, having purchased the press and material of the Illinoisan, Mr. Littlefield launched the Marshall Messenger, the first issue appearing April 28, 1865. In his salutatory the editor says: “The Messenger will be independent in all things.” It started as a six-column folio, but has since been enlarged to a six-column quarto with the inside furnished by an “auxiliary” printing establishment.

Clark County Herald/ Marshall Herald (1868-19??)

The extinction of Republican papers, however, did not indicate the death of Republican sentiment in the county, and in 1868, the Clark County Herald made its appearance. The editor and proprietor, M. O. Frost, had been formerly an attache of the Cincinnati Commercial, and in 1867 was publishing the Hotel Reporter at Covington, Ky. He was placed in communication with several of the prominent Republicans of Marshall, and the result of a conference was an agreement on Mr. Frost’s part to establish a paper if 500 subscribers could be secured. This a committee of Republicans undertook to secure, and with such success that Frost was written to come with his paper. About 400 subscribers were secured, and the first issue of the Herald appeared August 28, 1868. The Messenger was then in undisputed possession of the editorial field, and viewed the establishment of a Republican journal as a challenge to political combat. Since the first issue of the Herald a vigorous fusilade has been maintained between these papers, which was varied on the revival of the Illinoisan by a triangular distribution of the skirmish. The Herald has been enlarged to the proportions of a six-column quarto, printed entirely in its own office. It has been marked during its history for the attention paid to the publication of local news.

Marshall Acorn / Marshall Republican (18??-1910)

T. W. Clark was the owner and editor. The final issue on July 15, 1910 reported that the plant and subscriptions had been sold to the Marshall Herald.

Clark County Democrat (18??-1979)

In 1894 Sol Handy purchased the Democrat, and after 1895 gave the journalistic enterprise his chief attention until December 7, 1906, when he sold the business to Norman Bennett. [3] Norman Bennett served as proprietor and editor of the Democrat until his death in 1948. [4]

Marshall Independent  (1976-1996)

In 1996, the Marshall Independent merged with Marshall Choice to form Marshall Independent Choice.

Marshall Choice (198?-1996)

In 1996, the Marshall Choice merged with Marshall Independent to form Marshall Independent Choice.

Marshall Independent Choice (1996-present)

The Marshall Independent Choice was formed in 1996 by the merger of the Marshall Independent and the Marshall Choice. It is published by Lincoln Trail Publishing Company.

Marshall Advocate (1996-present)

Published by Gary & Melody Strohm. Vol. 1, no. 1 was published on November 18, 1996.

Clark County Daily Chronicle (1999-2000)

Published by Gary Strohm. Vol. 1, no. 1 (Oct. 18, 1999)-v. 2, no. 21 (Nov. 15, 2000)

Church Progress

Church Progress, is a weekly paper published in the interest of the Catholic church. It was projected by the pastor of the Catholic church here, in 1878. It was designed simply as a means of communication from the pastor to the people of his congregation and was first issued monthly in a four page pamphlet form. The church was heavily in debt and this means was taken to stimulate the members to larger contributions. The scope of the paper was gradually enlarged, becoming semi-monthly in January 1880, and weekly in its publication during the present year. It is a seven column folio and is still edited by Rev. Charles Kuhlman.


[1] History of Crawford and Clark Counties, Illinois, William Henry Perrin (Chicago : O.L. Baskin & Co., 1883) , CHAPTER IX,  322-24.

[2] Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Clark County, Bateman and Selby, eds, with H. C. Bell, ed (Chicago: Middle West Publ. Co, 1907), 659-60.

[3] Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Clark County, Bateman and Selby, eds, with H. C. Bell, ed (Chicago: Middle West Publ. Co, 1907), 760.

[4] History of Marshall, Illinois and Eastern Clark County (Marshall, Illinois: Clark County Democrat, 1979), 81, 105.