Category Archives: Business

Root beer stands

This entry has been edited to add photo above. Root beer stands first appear in Springfield city directories in 1931, with three outlets mentioned: A&W Root Beer, 408 E. Adams St; Icy Root Beer, Fifth Street and South Grand Avenue; … Continue reading

Posted in Amusements, Business, Restaurants | 3 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

The Cottage Garden

Springfield banker Nicholas Ridgely (1800-88) turned his love of plants and gardens into a business in 1849 when he started the Cottage Garden and Nursery in the area roughly bounded by 13th, 15th, Washington and Reynolds streets. Ridgely, who owned … Continue reading

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Doc Helm, photographer

Eddie Winfred “Doc” Helm, whose striking photographs documented African-American life in Springfield for 50 years, started his career as the man responsible for raising and lowering the flag over the Illinois Statehouse. Helm (1911-94), who grew up in Mount Vernon, … Continue reading

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Widow’s letter, 1841

Letters recently acquired by the Sangamon Valley Collection at Lincoln Library show how one Springfield widow struggled to make a living in the 1840s. The story of Dorothea Grant also illustrates how some employers treated their African-American servants at the … Continue reading

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The Sazarac

The Sazarac, a bar, restaurant and center for political intrigue, was a fixture in the 200 block of South Sixth Street in Springfield for more than a century. The Sazarac was on the west side of Sixth Street for most … Continue reading

Posted in Amusements, Business, Hotels & taverns, Restaurants | 1 Comment

Temperance movement, 1874

Springfield’s women’s temperance movement lost much of its momentum in 1874, after a (male) Methodist minister went out of his way to blame the local liquor trade on immigrant Germans and Irish. Doubly unfortunate for the crusading women, Rev. William … Continue reading

Posted in Business, Churches, Crime and vice, Ethnic groups, Hotels & taverns, Women | Leave a comment

Slovenians in Sangamon County

In 1909, Slovenian immigrants Josef Grobelnik and Bartol Ramschak operated a popular tavern on South 15th Street. At the time, southeast Springfield was filled with young Eastern European families—most of them new arrivals to the U.S. While Grobelnik and Ramschak … Continue reading

Posted in Buildings, Business, Churches, Crime and vice, Ethnic groups, Hotels & taverns, Social life | 4 Comments

H.B. Hill insurance scandal & suicide, 1934

With the insurance company he founded linked to Chicago crooks and his own job gone, Springfield financier H.B. Hill tried make his suicide look like a gangland murder. Hill shot himself in the head sometime on the afternoon of Dec. … Continue reading

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Hotel Abraham Lincoln opens (1925)

The Hotel Abraham Lincoln opened in 1925 with 300 rooms, a five-piece house band, its own radio station, and lavish décor. And, it turned out, with lousy timing. “The Abe,” which was on the southwest corner of Fifth Street and … Continue reading

Posted in Architecture, Buildings, Business, Hotels & taverns, Prominent figures, Social life | Leave a comment