Category Archives: Industry

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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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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The Battle of Virden (1898)

The 1898 “Battle of Virden,” a 10-minute gunfight that killed 13 men and had lasting significance for Illinois coal mining, was fought in Macoupin County, just south of the Sangamon County line. However, the Virden confrontation also led to turmoil … Continue reading

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Western Cartridge Co. explosion, 1920

Four men were killed on June 24, 1920, when an explosion and fire wrecked part of a smokeless gunpowder plant northeast of Springfield. The Western Cartridge Co., based in East Alton, opened the plant in 1915. Powder manufactured in Springfield … Continue reading

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Chatham mine cave-in, 1910

The cave-in of an abandoned coal mine on Oct. 15, 1910, caused some nervous moments in Chatham, but turned out not to be a serious danger. The mine, originally opened by the Chatham-Virden Coal Co. about 1900, was closed a … Continue reading

Posted in Buildings, Coal mines and mining, Disasters, Industry | 2 Comments

DICKEY-john Corp.

Auburn-based DICKEY-john Corp. got its start in 1960, when Chatham-area farmer Robert Dickey was in the hospital recuperating from a lawn-mower accident that had cost him his right eye. One of his visitors was a minister. “In talking about farming, … Continue reading

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Bobby pin manufacturer

New Modern Machine Products Co. made bobby pins in a factory at 10th and Miller streets from 1950 to 1959. Specifically, the company’s products were described in a Dec. 31, 1953, Illinois State Journal article as “rubber tipped, hair setting … Continue reading

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Manufacturers in Springfield, 1953

“Industry is big business in Springfield,” the Illinois State Journal declared in a year’s-end wrapup story published Dec. 30, 1953. Products manufactured in Springfield range from bobby pins to bulldozers; from boilers to lawn mowers; from tractors to precision instruments; … 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

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Sangamon Ordnance Plant

Dozens of seemingly out-of-place structures dot farm fields west of Illiopolis, the last reminders of what once was one of the U.S.’s largest producers of World War II artillery ammunition. From 1942 to 1945, the Sangamon Ordnance Plant produced 24 … Continue reading

Posted in African Americans, Agriculture, Buildings, Communities, Disasters, Industry, Military, Transportation, Women | 21 Comments