Author Archives: editor

Basketball tournament in Illinois State Fairgrounds Coliseum, 1933

Repairs to the Illinois State Fairgrounds Coliseum, under way in summer 2019, will include heating and air-conditioning systems. But the building was unheated in the winter of 1933, when the Coliseum played host to a boys high school basketball tournament. … Continue reading

Posted in Amusements, Buildings, Depression, Schools and school districts, Sports and recreation | Leave a comment

First marijuana arrests, 1938

Sangamon County resisted “reefer madness”, but marijuana finally arrived in Springfield in 1938. “Brilliant raids” by two Springfield police detectives resulted in the arrests of three men – two locals and one from Youngstown, Ohio – on Aug. 6, 1938, … Continue reading

Posted in Crime and vice | 2 Comments

Hemp in Sangamon County

Note: This entry has been edited. See below. Long before it was mistakenly confused with marijuana, hemp was, briefly, a big business in Sangamon County. In a lengthy pitch published in the March 23, 1848, Illinois Weekly State Journal, entrepreneur … Continue reading

Posted in Agriculture, Business, Farming, Industry | 2 Comments

LincolnFest (1981-93)

LincolnFest, Springfield’s Fourth of July street festival, lasted from 1981 through 1993. Aside from fireworks, the free two-day festival offered games, parades, carnival rides, and activities for kids and seniors. Highlights of each year’s event were free performances by nationally … Continue reading

Posted in Amusements, Celebrations, Local government, Spectacles | 1 Comment

First African-American mail carrier

When Charles Ellis Sr. was appointed a Springfield mail carrier in 1890 – the first African-American to hold the job – his predecessor refused to show him the route, and the Illinois State Register erupted with a racist personal attack … Continue reading

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Ruth Ellis, lesbian activist

Ruth Ellis was an openly lesbian woman at a time when that was almost unheard of, the first 40 years of her life in her hometown of Springfield and for 60 more years in Detroit. She became celebrated in 1999, … Continue reading

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Springfield in 1939, according to the Federal Writers Project

Editor: This entry, originally published in 2014, has been revised and expanded. Illinois: A Descriptive and Historical Guide was part of the American Guide series, which profiled each of the then-existing 48 states during the 1930s. The American Guides were … Continue reading

Posted in Buildings, Communities, Depression, Historic Sites, Histories, Illinois capital, Lincoln, Abraham, Maps, Markers, Springfield, Transportation | Leave a comment

Charles Wood/Carlo Modini, operatic tenor

A torrential rainstorm beat down on Springfield the evening of Sept. 16, 1886. But the weather didn’t stop local opera aficionados from packing the Chatterton Opera House at Sixth and Jefferson streets to hear tenor virtuoso Carlo Modini. “Nearly every … Continue reading

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Dr. Sheppard A. Ware, physician

Dr. Sheppard Anderson Ware (1872-1948) was a physician in Springfield for 40 years. He was also was a member of the Sangamon County Medical Society and additionally worked for the Illinois State Department of Health. Born in Brownsville, Tenn., Ware … Continue reading

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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

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