Category Archives: Media

Poisoning and racial controversy, 1860

The sentencing of three African-American teenagers in 1860 on charges they tried to poison the employers of two of them highlighted differences in how courts and the newspapers treated blacks and whites at the time. Perhaps inevitably, the case also … Continue reading

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Charles Darwin letters, Illinois State Register (1914)

More than 50 years after Charles Darwin published The Origin of Species, the Illinois State Register devoted seven full pages over the summer of 1914 to the continued controversy over Darwin’s theory of natural selection. The result was a verbose … Continue reading

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Late-night Springfield, 1935

J. Emil Smith wrote a daily column, “Making Conversation,” for more than 28 years, starting when he became editor of the Illinois State Journal in 1930. Much of the column was made up of briefs, jokes, poems and birthday notices for friends … Continue reading

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New Berlin rodeo

The Stapleton Rodeo drew thousands of spectators weekly to an arena west of New Berlin from 1927 until the eve of World War II. Competitors ranged from local cowboys to some of the top nationwide riders. The rodeo’s impresario was … Continue reading

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Nellie Revell, publicist, author & celebrity

As a young vaudevillian, the story goes, Nellie Revell punched out George M. Cohan. Decades later, Cohan hosted a Friars Club benefit for Revell – a first for a woman. He also was among hundreds of celebrities who lined up … Continue reading

Posted in Arts and letters, Journalism, Media, Women | 6 Comments

Richard Kinsella (baseball scout, team owner)

Richard “Sinister Dick” Kinsella (1862-1939) was a semi-pro baseball player, owner of Springfield’s Three-I League team and a well-known local politician. But he was famous nationally as the right-hand man of John J. McGraw, the Hall of Fame manager of … Continue reading

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Radio beginnings in Springfield

Two boyhood friends turned radio pioneers brought Springfield its first permanent radio station in 1926. That station, whose original call letters were WCBS, broadcast its first program, a test featuring Alfred Blankschen, organist at Springfield’s Lyric Theater, on Dec. 10, … Continue reading

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Illinois State Informer (newspaper)

The Illinois State Informer was a weekly newspaper founded by Dr. Alonzo Kenniebrew, a nationally prominent black physician, in the mid-1930s in Springfield. Kenniebrew (1875-1943), a graduate of Tuskegee Institute and close friend of Tuskegee founder Booker T. Washington, had moved to … Continue reading

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Telephone service begins, 1878

The first telephone conversation in Springfield took place on Feb. 28, 1878, over a line between the city office of Western Union, Sixth and Monroe streets, and the company’s branch office at the state Capitol. That phone call began with … Continue reading

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‘First flash of lightning’: Telegraph reaches Springfield

Edited to add Hat Tip (see below) In 1848, only four years after Samuel F.B. Morse famously sent the message “What hath God wrought!,” Springfield became linked to the rest of the world via telegraph. The Illinois State Journal’s story … Continue reading

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