Category Archives: Women

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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Brainerd Hill (West Lawrence Avenue)

Brainerd Hill, now Springfield’s favorite sledding spot, once was the ultimate challenge for the city’s competitive bicycle community. Springfield “wheelmen” organized the Capital City Cycling Club in the fall of 1887 to sponsor a variety of bicycling events, foster competition … Continue reading

Posted in Amusements, Parks, Prominent figures, Social life, Sports and recreation, Transportation, Women | 3 Comments

Mother’s Day begins, 1910

A proclamation by Gov. Charles Deneen in 1910 made Illinois one of the first eight states to officially designate the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day. The idea had been first promoted by a Philadelphia woman, Anna Jarvis, in … Continue reading

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Women’s vote history, Sangamon County

Following the Civil War, Illinoisans decided their state constitution needed updating. Delegates met in Springfield from December 1869 until May 1870, and one of the issues they debated was whether to allow universal suffrage. The 15th amendment to the U.S. … Continue reading

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Annie Rheem Hannon (first woman elected to public office)

The first woman to hold an elective office in Sangamon County was Annie Rheem Hannon (1857-1945), who served from 1892 to 1894 as county superintendent of schools – a position for which neither she, nor any other woman, could cast … Continue reading

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Women’s bathing suit controversy, 1916

Springfield women’s rights activist Harriett Reid made fun of the Springfield Park Board’s 1916 directive that women’s swimsuits at the new Bunn Park Beach include skirts. The park board had voted 5-1 to impose the restriction, which was sponsored by … Continue reading

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Women win civil service hiring rights in Illinois, 1920

Harriett Reid of Springfield placed first in the 1918 examination for arbitrator with the Illinois Industrial Commission. But when the commission decided to hire two more arbitrators in 1920, it advertised that it wanted men for both posts. That set … Continue reading

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‘Madame Brownie’ (bordello operator)

“Madame Brownie” (real name Augusta Kellogg) operated one of Springfield’s best-known houses of prostitution for more than 35 years. She was 80 years old when she died in 1915, possibly following an altercation with an intoxicated customer. Her Illinois State … Continue reading

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Alice Gilliland (Royal Neighbors of America)

Alice Gilliland helped found the Royal Neighbors of America, the first “fraternal” benefit society to offer life insurance to women, and rose to become the group’s Supreme Oracle, its top post. Gilliland, who was among the first 500 members necessary … Continue reading

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Prohibition referendums in Sangamon County, 1908-17

Most of Sangamon County voted itself “dry” as soon as it legally could in 1908. But it would take four referendums and nearly 10 years before the city of Springfield finally succumbed to prohibitionist sentiment. After a bitter struggle, the … Continue reading

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