Category Archives: Business

A.C. Littlejohn fraud and suicide

Angus Littlejohn, once a pillar of Springfield’s business community, spent three years in the 1930s trying to recoup his reputation and keep himself out of prison. He failed. On the morning of July 2, 1938, five minutes before he was … Continue reading

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John Schnepp, mayor & embezzler

John S. Schnepp (1866-1954) was a lawyer, real estate developer and two-time mayor of Springfield. He also was an embezzler and philanderer. With his thefts on the verge of exposure in January 1932, Schnepp disappeared. Discovered three years later selling … Continue reading

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Delmonico Restaurant (photo)

  The Delmonico Restaurant operated from about 1898 to 1905 at 126 N. Fifth St. in Springfield. Although the name didn’t change over the period, the operators did. The Delmonico’s first owner apparently was William A. Stone, who ran the … Continue reading

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Kidnapped banker, 1932

Springfield coal miner James Gammaitoni lost his life savings when Taylorville’s John B. Colegrove State Bank failed in 1929. So Gammaitoni took direct action: He kidnapped Colegrove. John Benjamin Colegrove had been a lawyer and real estate investor before he … Continue reading

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The Helmle family, architects and builders

Three generations of the Helmle family left their mark on the built environment of Springfield. The original Helmles in Springfield were George William Helmle, a skilled woodcarver from Germany, and his wife, Elise Marschutz Helmle, who arrived in Springfield in … Continue reading

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Fuel crisis shutdown, 1918

In January 1918, the federal government told thousands of Sangamon County workers to take the week off. U.S. fuel administrator Harry Garfield on Jan. 17, 1918, ordered most factories east of the Mississippi River to close from Friday, Jan. 18, … Continue reading

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First electrified home

The first Springfield home to be equipped with electric lights reputedly was the palatial residence of Frank and Sarah Jones Tracy. It’s not clear when Frank W. Tracy, a banker and civic leader, had the lights installed. The date probably … Continue reading

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First electric lights

Many Springfieldians got their first exposure to electric lights from two traveling circuses in 1880. Within a year, however, the city’s first power station was powering 10 “very brilliant” lights downtown, and a group of prominent businessmen had created the … Continue reading

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Farm machinery, 1870s-1950s

Sangamon County farms switched from man- and horsepower to fully mechanized operations in fits and starts over more than 80 years. But the key impetus may have been six disastrous weeks of rain in the fall of 1926. Traction engines … Continue reading

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Butternut bakery, Jefferson Street

George S. Connelly & Co. began baking bread in an L-shaped building surrounding the corner of Second and Jefferson streets in 1913 or 1914. The Springfield area would eat Butternut bread baked there for almost 60 years. George S. Connelly … Continue reading

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