The paper traces its history to the Warrensburg Journal which began publishing April 17, 1865 by James Douglas Eads—seven days after the end of the American Civil War and two days after the Assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Warrensburg, population of 1,000 at the time, did not have a newspaper. Prior to the war Eads, a church pastor, had published the Warrensburg Signal. In addition to his pastor and newspaper interests he was also a physician and ran a hotel.
On October 6, 1876, it became the Journal-Democrat after merging with the Warrensburg Democrat which had started in 1871. In 1907, Wallace Crossley became the publisher. On February 6, 1913 it became the Star-Journal after merging with the Johnson County Star founded in 1883 by J.M. Coe. William and Avis Tucker bought the paper in 1947. William Tucker died in 1966 and Avis owned the paper until 2007 when it was sold to NPG. At one point it owned radio station KOKO (AM).