Sylvester Emmons established the Beardstown Gazette in 1845. The first issue appeared on August 15, 1845. The only newspaper published in Cass County, Illinois, at that time, the Gazette was Whig in political orientation. During the presidential campaign of 1848, Emmons used the Gazette to promote the candidacy of Zachary Taylor, and he proved successful in advancing the Whig Party cause. As a reward for his efforts, Emmons received an appointment as postmaster of Beardstown. Emmons continued to operate the Gazette until 1852, when he won election as circuit clerk and subsequently sold the paper to C. D. Dickerson, who after eight months sold it to J. L. Sherman, who changed the name to Beardstown and Petersburg Gazette. From December 9, 1852 to about 1854, Sherman operated the paper as a Whig Party organ. Sherman sold the paper to B. C. Drake, who changed the name to the Central Illinoisan. Drake continued the paper as a Whig organ until 1856, when he joined the Republican Party. He published a weekly, and during the Lincoln-Douglas Debates, he also issued a daily. He continued publishing the weekly until the onset of the Civil War, when he closed the office and enlisted in the military.
Franklin William Scott, Newspapers and Periodicals of Illinois, 1814-1879
, vol. 6 of Collections of the Illinois State Historical Library
(Springfield: Illinois State Historical Library, 1910), 18-19; Newton Bateman and Paul Selby, eds., Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Cass County, ed. by Charles Æ. Martin (Chicago: Munsell, 1915), 2:783; William Henry Perrin, ed., History of Cass County, Illinois (Chicago: O. L. Baskin, 1882), 112.