Category Archives: Abolitionism

Poisoning and racial controversy, 1860

The sentencing of three African-American teenagers in 1860 on charges they tried to poison the employers of two of them highlighted differences in how courts and the newspapers treated blacks and whites at the time. Perhaps inevitably, the case also … Continue reading

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Springfield Library Association

The forerunner of today’s Lincoln Library was the Springfield Library Association, a private library supported by membership dues and donation. (Lincoln Library, Springfield’s public library, should not be confused with the state-operated Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library.) But even its creation, … Continue reading

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William Donnegan’s memoir of the Underground Railroad

William Donnegan, an 80-year-old black cobbler and entrepreneur who was lynched during the Springfield Race Riot of 1908, earlier wrote a memoir about his role in helping an enslaved black woman travel through Springfield on her way to Canada in … Continue reading

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Emancipation Day celebrations

The Slave Emancipation Act, which freed Britain’s slaves in the West Indies, went into effect on Aug. 1, 1834. Freedom wasn’t immediate unless a slave was younger than 6; others had to serve as unpaid apprentices to their former masters. … Continue reading

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First Presbyterian Church

The Sangamon Presbyterian Church, now First Presbyterian Church, was founded by the Rev. John Ellis on Jan. 23, 1828. The energetic Rev. John Bergen soon became the church’s first permanent pastor, and he initiated plans to construct a church building. … Continue reading

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Westminster Presbyterian Church

See Second Presbyterian Church.

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Second Presbyterian Church

Springfield’s Second Presbyterian Church (now known as Westminster Presbyterian Church), was founded in May 1835, when 30 members of First Presbyterian Church split from the parent congregation. Although some researchers ascribe the split to a dispute over slavery, with Second … Continue reading

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Mary and John Sherill

Mary Pentacost Sherill (1802-1850?)was a founding member of Springfield’s Second Presbyterian Church (later Westminster Presbyterian Church), which was formed on May 26, 1835. Second Presbyterian was known as both the Abolitionist Church and the Temperance Church. Mary’s husband, John (1784-1858), … Continue reading

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Erastus Wright

Erastus Wright (1779-1870) was a teacher, businessman, public official and farmer in a varied career spent mostly in central Illinois. He also was an early Springfield abolitionist and was one of Abraham Lincoln’s pallbearers. Wright was born in Massachusetts and traveled with … Continue reading

Posted in Abolitionism, Churches, Early residents, Education, Lincoln, Abraham, Prominent figures, Railroads | Tagged | 2 Comments