Category Archives: Arts and letters

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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Old Capitol Art Fair beginnings

Springfield’s first Old Capitol Art Fair was a one-day affair in 1962 that featured 174 artists from around the Midwest. The event, held Saturday, May 26, 1962 (see note below), was one of the earliest events created by the Springfield … 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

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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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North Side State Bank collapse, 1927

The North Side State Bank operated from 1920 to 1927, when state auditors ordered it closed in the wake of a complicated financial scandal involving two banks, three insurance companies, and a former Springfield resident who may have absconded with … Continue reading

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Springfield Muni Opera

The Springfield Muni Opera’s earliest ancestor was a play named “Good News,” performed by the Springfield Municipal Choir at Lanphier Park on July 28, 1938. But today’s outdoor community musical theater more accurately dates from a presentation of “Bye Bye … Continue reading

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Illinois State Fair, 1915

Rain washed out car races and some other activities scheduled for opening day of the 1915 Illinois State Fair, but the fair’s big controversy focused on a different, and unlikely, topic: china painting. The fair was held in September during … Continue reading

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Bobby Watson (movies’ Hitler)

Bobby Watson (1888-1965), born Robert Kuecher in Springfield, portrayed Adolf Hitler in movies more times (nine) than any other Hollywood actor. The most  colorful account of Watson’s show business career is his IMDB biography, which says Watson got his showbiz start at … Continue reading

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Hall-Hagler chapter, Disabled American Veterans

Springfield’s Hall-Hagler chapter of the Disabled American Veterans is named in honor of two World War I casualties who hailed from the city. Sgt. Joe Hall (1891-1918) died during the waning hours of the war – at 8:45 a.m. on … Continue reading

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‘The Wedding of the Rose and the Lotus’ (Vachel Lindsay)

Springfield poet Vachel Lindsay wrote The Wedding of the Rose and the Lotus in 1912 to recognize the importance of the Panama Canal, which connected the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The rose signifies the West and the lotus the East. … Continue reading

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