Author Archives: editor

First Prohibition bootlegger, 1919

The 14 gallons of whiskey federal agents seized on May 30, 1919, made Servia Diaz Springfield’s first officially recognized Prohibition bootlegger. Diaz (1897-1975), an immigrant from Spain, claimed he had made the liquor “only for his own use ‘cause he … Continue reading

Posted in Crime and vice, Hotels & taverns, Law enforcement, Social life | Leave a comment

‘Alfalfa train,’ 1913

The alfalfa train was an automobile caravan that traveled to the ends of Sangamon County for five days in June 1913, carrying experts who preached the gospel of alfalfa hay. Over the five days, the half-dozen alfalfa advocates and dozens … Continue reading

Posted in Agriculture, Farming, Science, Soil | Leave a comment

National Emancipation Monument (proposed)

A statue of a black Civil War soldier was to be the centerpiece of a National Emancipation Monument that African-American residents of Springfield hoped would be erected in the city. The effort, which lasted from 1889 to 1893, ultimately was … Continue reading

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First woman dentist

Jennie F. Spurrier (1847-1912) was a dentist in Springfield beginning in 1877, making her the city’s first woman dentist and one of the earliest female dentists in the U.S. From what we know of her, she also seems to have … Continue reading

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Fortune-teller scandal, 1897

A fortune-teller with a gift of gab went to prison in 1897, thanks partly to an investigation by Springfield’s first woman dentist. Arthur A. Waite went by the name of “Luke Leslie” when he set up shop at Second and … Continue reading

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Sacred Heart Church

It was a warm day in June 1884 when Catholics gathered on 12th Street near Cook Street in Springfield to lay the cornerstone for what was to be the area’s second German-oriented Catholic church. The two-story brick building, which included … Continue reading

Posted in Architecture, Buildings, Churches, Ethnic groups, Germans, Slovenians | 10 Comments

‘Segregated district,’ 1909-15

In the early 20th century, the city of Springfield set aside a few square blocks where prostitutes were allowed to ply their trade without interference from police. The theory behind the quasi-legal “segregated district” was to keep the rest of … Continue reading

Posted in Crime and vice, Local government, Public health, Springfield Survey, Women | Leave a comment

The Irish in early Springfield

There were Irish in Sangamon County before there was Sangamon County. When county commissioners  had to choose a temporary county seat in 1821, the only practical location was a scattering of squatter cabins near what today is First and Jefferson … Continue reading

Posted in Early residents, Irish | 2 Comments

Bee hunting, 1820s

Some of the earliest residents of Sangamon County were drawn here by people’s sweet tooth. Robert Pulliam, generally considered the first person of European descent to move permanently to the county, first visited the Sangamo County in search of maple … Continue reading

Posted in Early residents, Prominent figures | 1 Comment

Catharine Frazee Lindsay, community visionary

Catharine Frazee Lindsay is remembered mainly as the mother of Springfield’s famous poet, Vachel Lindsay. But many of her son’s ideals and, perhaps, some of his literary talent were inherited from his indefatigable mother. Despite a variety of personal trials, … Continue reading

Posted in Churches, Historic Sites, Lindsay, Vachel, Local government, Prominent figures, Women | 3 Comments