Category Archives: Celebrations

First Christmas parade (1914)

Thousands of people turned out to see Santa Claus parade through Springfield on Christmas Eve 1914, but the parade, which was part of a much larger communitywide holiday celebration, wasn’t repeated for another 15 years. Children – “urchins,” as the … Continue reading

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Italian immigration

More than 1,000 people paraded through downtown Springfield on Oct. 12, 1920, to celebrate Columbus Day. Floats depicted the Statue of Liberty, Christopher Columbus himself and Columbus’ flagship, the Santa Maria. Italian fraternal societies from Springfield, Virden and Decatur turned … Continue reading

Posted in Celebrations, Coal mines and mining, Communities, Prominent figures | 7 Comments

Old Capitol Art Fair beginnings

Springfield’s first Old Capitol Art Fair was a one-day affair in 1962 that featured 174 artists from around the Midwest. The event, held Saturday, May 26, 1962 (see note below), was one of the earliest events created by the Springfield … Continue reading

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Irwin’s Park (‘Irwin’s Grove’)

Irwin’s Park, two miles north of Auburn off Illinois 4, is probably the oldest public meeting place in Sangamon County. For many years, it was also one of the most popular. Today, the property, operated by Auburn Township and the … Continue reading

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Statehouse dome lighting

Christmas lights bedecked the Statehouse dome for the first time in 1924, but it took another four decades before the lights became a tradition. A.B. McCall (1887-1955), a mechanical drawing teacher at Springfield High School, had the idea to make … Continue reading

Posted in Air travel, Buildings, Celebrations, Illinois capital, Prominent figures | 4 Comments

Downtown arches

The steel arches that once dominated the four corners of Springfield’s downtown square went from being a graceful addition to an eyesore in barely 20 years. Actually, Springfield erected two sets of arches on the square in the late 1800s. … Continue reading

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Illinois State Fair butter cow

The Illinois State Fair’s first butter cow, sculpted in 1922, was the image of an actual champion cow, the University of Illinois’ Raleigh’s Sibyl. Raleigh’s Sibyl produced 18,847 pounds of milk in 1920, a record at the time. Nebraska sculptor … Continue reading

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Assembly Ball, 1889 (photo)

This obviously staged photograph was taken by William Patton in the lobby of the Leland Hotel, Sixth Street and Capitol Avenue, in 1889. The photo was later printed in the lllinois State Journal. The caption said, in part: Here in … Continue reading

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Fourth of July mayhem, 1907

One of the staples of newspaper journalism in the early 20th century was the annual July 5 roundup of Independence Day mayhem, much of it caused by children’s attraction to fireworks. What probably was the worst local Fourth of July-related … Continue reading

Posted in Celebrations, Children, Local government, Media, Public health | 1 Comment

Wedding customs before the Civil War

Pre-Civil War weddings in Sangamon County had their peculiarities, often including macaroon pyramids and very early starting times, as Caroline Owsley Brown remembered in 1914. Here are Brown’s descriptions of some of those weddings. Barret/Johnson Miss Eliza Barret’s wedding at … Continue reading

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