Category Archives: Business

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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Springfield manufacturers and professions, 1869

The Jan. 4, 1869 edition of the Illinois State Journal included a section headlined “Our City: Its Population and Progress” that recorded a wide range of economic statistics. Here is some of what the Journal reported. Few even of our … Continue reading

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John S. Condell memoir, 1840s

John S. Condell Sr. (1818-1907), born in Ireland, arrived in Springfield by way of Philadelphia and Carrollton in 1841. Condell was one of Springfield’s pioneer merchants, operating stores on the downtown square for more than 40 years. One of his … Continue reading

Posted in Business, Early residents, Historic Sites, Histories, Prominent figures, Social life | 2 Comments

Sangamo Electric meter chronology

The six images below give the serial numbers of watthour meters (singlephase and polyphase), mechanical and thermal demand meters, and instrument transformers manufactured by Sangamo Electric  and the years (between 1930 and 1981) they were manufactured. Collectors and people still … Continue reading

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Johnston-Hatcher fires, 1907 & 1913

The Johnston-Hatcher Co. sold home furnishings of all kinds from 1899 to 1949 in downtown Springfield. The store, however, fell victim to two of the city’s most devastating early 20th-century fires. Johnston-Hatcher was the creation of two sets of brothers … Continue reading

Posted in Agriculture, Airport, Amusements, Auto dealers, Buildings, Business, Crime and vice, Disasters, Farming, Fires, Presidents, Prominent figures, Uncategorized | 2 Comments