Category Archives: Military

William Ide, William Todd and California’s Bear Flag rebellion

Two former Sangamon County residents played key roles in the rebellion that overturned Mexican rule in California in  1846. William B. Ide (1796-1852), was the rebellion’s leader and military commander. William L. Todd (1818-1876), one of Ide’s soldiers, helped create … Continue reading

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World War I memorial (new)

An obelisk bearing the names of 113 Sangamon Countians who died of wounds or disease in World War I was created in the early 2000s by John Kerasotes, a member of Springfield’s pioneering movie theater family. Kerasotes, however, remained anonymous, … Continue reading

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Lincoln Library and World War I

World War I doughboys wanted reading material – “good red-blooded fiction” and more – and they got it with the help of Springfield’s Lincoln Library. But a small box stored for almost a century in the Sangamon Valley Collection, the … Continue reading

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Maj. George W. Ford (Camp Butler superintendent)

Maj. George W. Ford was a rarity – an African-American who held a supervisory position in early 20th-century Sangamon County. Ford (1847-1939) also was an outspoken opponent of the Ku Klux Klan and racism, a friend of both W.E.B. DuBois … Continue reading

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Army Air Force depot, Illinois State Fairgrounds (WWII)

Livestock moved out of the Illinois State Fairgrounds with the start of World War II, and soldiers moved in. The U.S. Army Air Force took over the fairgrounds in March 1942 and operated a supply depot and training facility there … Continue reading

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Camp Butler (Civil War training camp)

At the start of the Civil War in 1861, states scrambled to build training facilities for the influx of raw recruits.  Springfield’s first attempt at a location was Camp Yates, an area bordered today by Washington, Governor, Lincoln and Douglas … Continue reading

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Hiram Shumate (last Civil War veteran)

Sangamon County’s last Civil War veteran, Hiram Shumate of Riverton, died, at age 98, on New Year’s Day 1948. At the time of his death, Shumate had been state commander of the dwindling Grand Army of the Republic since 1940 … Continue reading

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World War I memorial, First Street and North Grand Avenue (updated)

Update note: Sangamon County’s memorial to those who died in World War I was moved from First Street and North Grand Avenue to the war memorials section of Oak Ridge Cemetery in September 2019. Wording was added honoring all Illinoisans … Continue reading

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Sangamon County’s Confederate memorial

Note:  Camp Butler itself (see link below) describes its Confederate obelisk as a “monument.” However, it probably is more accurate to call it a “memorial,” because the obelisk was erected, as its inscription says, in memory of  Confederate soldiers buried … 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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