Charles Allen and Smith Atkins started the first newspaper in Savanna in 1854 and called it “The Register” After a few months, the paper was sold to Mr. Gratton and he moved the plant elsewhere.
The Savanna Times was established in 1875 by J. William Mastin and Simon Greenleaf and for the first ten weeks it was printed at the office of the Shannon Gazette in Shannon.
The first issue printed in Savanna was on September 11, 1875, at which time the equipment of the Shannon Gazette was moved to Savanna. In 1876 Simon Greenleaf bought out the interest of Mastin and became the editor and proprietor until 1884 when he sold the paper. In 1907. Miss L.M. Fraser became the editor of the paper and Hon. W.W. Gillespie the publisher. It continued until the merger in 1917 and was republican in politics with J.E. Humbert in charge.
The Savanna Journal was started by Francis “Frank” Greenleaf, the son of Simon Greenleaf, in 1885 and he was the only owner and publisher. Its was the only democratic paper in the county and eventually became the Savanna Daily Journal.
The announcement was made in the Savanna Daily Journal on Saturday, Sept. 29, 1917, of the merger of the Savanna Times and the Savanna Daily Journal.
The first issue of the Savanna Times Journal was Monday evening, Oct. 1, 1917, under the ownership of Frank Greenleaf. In that first issue an editorial stated the paper would be politically non-partisan.
On Feb. 27, 1920, after 35 years of ownership, Greenleaf sold the paper to Will H. Gharrity from Beloit, Wisconsin.
On Nov. 2, 1926, Gharrity sold the paper interest to D.C. Pickard. He was an experienced newsman whose father owned the Green Bay Gazette in Wisconsin.
After owning the paper for nearly 30 years, Pickard sold the Times Journal on Sept. 12, 1955, to Clint Youle, a Chicago weathercaster but a native of Jo Daviess County, who also owned the Galena Gazette.
On Aug. 18, 1958, Youle sold to the paper to David T. Hayhow who came from North Carolina. During his ownership Hayhow converted from a daily issue to a biweekly publication. The Northwestern Illinois Dispatch was also developed as an all-advertising shopper.
Hayhow sold the papers to his general manager J.A. O’Leary in 1965 who owned and operated them until Aug. 1, 1970. From 1970-85 the papers were under the ownership of H.J. “Jerry” Wildman and Robert Evans.
In January of 1986 the paper was sold to Donrey Media, who printed the paper in Clinton Iowa at the Clinton Herald plant.
On April 1, 1990, Donrey Media sold the Times Journal and the Northwest Illinois Dispatch to Robert Watson of Mount Carroll, who also owns the Carroll County Mirror-Democrat.
After a transition period Watson changed the format to a weekly community newspaper and began mailing the paper to subscribers. A few years ago the Northwestern Illinois Dispatch was discontinued. The paper is still owned by Watson and is printed weekly. The Savanna Times Journal office is located at 315 Main Street.