Category Archives: Politics

First African-American to hold public office

Springfield’s Hicklin family provided two of Sangamon County’s earliest successful black politicians, as well as leadership in the local civil rights and African-American history movements. Hezkiah Hicklin (1835-1904) was the first black person in the county to hold public office, … 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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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

Posted in Abolitionism, African Americans, Crime and vice, Journalism, Law enforcement, Media, Politics, Prominent figures | Leave a comment

Pensacola

“Pensacola” was the name given to a tiny, unincorporated community in Cotton Hill Township, southeast of Springfield, in the 1800s. The area is designated for inundation if and when Hunter Lake is ever created as a backup water source for … Continue reading

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Lincoln Library’s grandfather clock

The nine-foot-tall grandfather clock that sits on the first floor of Lincoln Library was given to the library in 1936 by the widow of former Springfield School Superintendent J.H. Collins. Collins, according to a bookmark available at the library that … Continue reading

Posted in Local government, Politics, Prominent figures, Schools and school districts | 4 Comments

Ben F. Caldwell: politician, farmer, banker

Ben Franklin Caldwell (1848-1924) was a member of Congress and the Illinois legislature in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He also was a farmer, banker and civic leader whose donations helped build schools in both Chatham and Thayer. … Continue reading

Posted in Architecture, Buildings, Business, Fires, Historic Sites, Politics, Prominent figures, Schools and school districts | 3 Comments

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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Rural mail delivery begins, 1896

The first rural mail deliveries in Sangamon County – in fact, in all of Illinois – took place in the Auburn area on Dec. 10, 1896. Rural Free Delivery, as it became known, started as a nationwide experiment, one many … Continue reading

Posted in Communities, Politics, Prominent figures | 1 Comment

Gambling rivalry, 1931

Threats to bomb one of Springfield’s most visible mansions illuminated the murky connections between city fathers and the local underworld in 1931. Machine-gun toting police officers took up guard posts at 1303 Wiggins Ave. in May 1931, in the midst … Continue reading

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