Category Archives: Industry

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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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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