Category Archives: Local government

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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Springfield fire protection, 1850s-’70s

Fires that demolished swaths of the downtown square in the 1850s led – eventually – to Springfield creating a full-time fire department. But city fathers first had to remedy another problem that plagued local firefighting efforts: a water shortage. An “incendiary” – … Continue reading

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Fallout shelters in Sangamon County

On April 5, 1964, about 150 people moved into the sleek, white-tiled tunnels below the State Office Building. They were to remain there for 25 hours, drinking purified water and munching biscuits, while loudspeakers blared warnings and audio recordings simulated … Continue reading

Posted in Buildings, Communications, Illinois capital, Local government, Maps, Public health | 9 Comments

Hogs and Springfield’s civic spirit

It took years for the city of Springfield to finally ban hogs from roaming downtown streets. To historian Paul M. Angle, however, the fact that the debate even took place  demonstrated that Springfield, at long last, was developing a civic spirit. … Continue reading

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Lake Springfield holdout, 1933

Leander Shoup vowed to go down in a blaze of gunfire rather than relinquish his 123 acres of farmland to inundation by Lake Springfield. The city of Springfield won a lawsuit to take over the land, a little over a … Continue reading

Posted in Crime and vice, Farming, Law enforcement, Local government, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Douglass Community Center

The Douglass Community Center offered civic, social and educational opportunities to African-American residents of Springfield when most similar organizations were closed to blacks. The Douglass center (apparently named after abolitionist Frederick Douglass) opened in 1926. It was phased out as … Continue reading

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Centennial Co-Operative Educational Congress, 1918

Black Springfieldians observed Illinois’ 100th anniversary in 1918 with a three-day conference examining the status, progress and prospects of the state’s African-American community. Some 3,000 people attended the Centennial Co-Operative Educational Congress, held Sept. 22-24, 1918, at the Illinois State … 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

Posted in Business, Industry, Local government, Prominent figures, Social life, Springfield | 4 Comments

Newsboys vs. the mayor, 1921

When a newsboy stiffed Mayor Charles Baumann out of 2 cents change, Baumann ordered city police to dismantle every news stand in downtown Springfield. But the newsboys had allies of their own, including an influential group of civic-minded women. The … Continue reading

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Harry Taylor, first black firefighter, police detective

Harry Taylor (1861-1928) was Springfield’s first African-American firefighter, but became better known as a Springfield police officer and detective. Positions on both the police and fire departments were patronage appointments in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Taylor was … Continue reading

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