Category Archives: Children

Seven children die in car/train accident, 1928

Seven young people – six siblings and a cousin – were killed on June 5, 1928, when the car they were in drove in front of a southbound Interurban train near Auburn. The car was traveling west on Divernon Road. … Continue reading

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Tree-sitting fad, 1930

Endurance tree-sitting – climbing trees and staying in them as long as possible – captivated Springfield youngsters, and amused newspaper readers, for several weeks in mid-1930. The local tree-sitters were part of a brief nationwide craze for the stunt. “Long … Continue reading

Posted in Amusements, Children, Spectacles | 2 Comments

Edith Martin, teacher & heroine

Teacher Edith Martin may have saved 30 children by forcing them out a second-story window as flames consumed Thayer’s Caldwell School on Feb. 16, 1903. An Illinois State Register special correspondent described the rescues in a highly colored account published … Continue reading

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Ridgely School fire, 1916

Regular fire drills were credited with saving the lives of an unknown number of children when Ridgely School caught fire in the middle of classes on Nov. 15, 1916. The blaze began when sparks from the school’s coal furnace flew … Continue reading

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Measles vaccinations, 1966 (photo)

In February 1966, Illinois Department of Public Health officials predicted a major measles outbreak unless local agencies set up crash immunization programs. “We will have a severe epidemic with deaths and encephalitis … unless there is widespread use of the … Continue reading

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The J.C. Ayling kite factory

The J.C. Ayling Kite Co., which got its start in a backyard shed on North Seventh Street, manufactured millions of Jolly Boy kites in Springfield from 1911 until the 1940s. The key to the company’s success was an innovation developed … Continue reading

Posted in Business, Children, Industry | 2 Comments

Nude swimming banned, 1921

Springfield Park District officials resorted to a police guard and at least one arrest to keep boys from swimming nude in a Lincoln Park pond in 1921. Officials warned the pond would be closed and drained if swimmers didn’t wear … 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

The potato matinee of 1925

The “potato matinee” of Christmas 1925 was the brainchild of longtime local theater manager Harry Thornton. It quickly went awry, the victim of its own success. Illinois State Journal editor/publisher J. Emil Smith, a friend of Thornton’s, heard the potato … Continue reading

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Myers Brothers’ monkey

A monkey was a mainstay attraction of the second-floor boys’ shop at Myers Brothers Department Store in Springfield for much of the 1950s. Actually, there were at least two monkeys – “Weegee,” who went on display at Myers in 1952, … Continue reading

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