Category Archives: Agriculture

Rainfall records, 1926

Two massive rainstorms made Springfield a virtual island on Sept. 8, 1926, flooding streets and basements, stranding autos, trains and streetcars, and leading to the electrocution of an Illinois Watch Co. worker. Even people using the Knights of Columbus swimming … Continue reading

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Farm machinery, 1870s-1950s

Sangamon County farms switched from man- and horsepower to fully mechanized operations in fits and starts over more than 80 years. But the key impetus may have been six disastrous weeks of rain in the fall of 1926. Traction engines … Continue reading

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Johnston-Hatcher fires, 1907 & 1913

The Johnston-Hatcher Co. sold home furnishings of all kinds from 1899 to 1949 in downtown Springfield. The store, however, fell victim to two of the city’s most devastating early 20th-century fires. Johnston-Hatcher was the creation of two sets of brothers … Continue reading

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Price-Prather House, Williamsville (National Register)

Williamsville’s Price-Prather House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places partly for its architectural features, but the building’s early owners, especially J. Frank Prather (1859-1927), played major roles in development of the beef cattle industry in Sangamon County, … Continue reading

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Sangamon County Farm Bureau

The Sangamon County Farm Bureau was organized on Oct. 13, 1917, with a membership of 300 farmers, each of whom pledged to donate $10 toward the hiring of a county soil adviser. Sangamon County’s action was part of a wave … Continue reading

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Corn husking competitions

Nearly 4,000 “farmers, farmers’ wives and children” jammed the grounds of the F.I. Taylor farm near New Berlin on Nov. 21, 1924, for the first annual Illinois State Corn Husking contest. The competition, sponsored by Prairie Farmer magazine, continued into … Continue reading

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DICKEY-john Corp.

Auburn-based DICKEY-john Corp. got its start in 1960, when Chatham-area farmer Robert Dickey was in the hospital recuperating from a lawn-mower accident that had cost him his right eye. One of his visitors was a minister. “In talking about farming, … Continue reading

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First radio weather report (Illiopolis, 1915)

What apparently was the first weather report ever transmitted by radio was a test sent from an experimental station based in Illiopolis sometime in April 1915. Although the Illiopolis transmitter, operating on call letters 9ZK, reached most of Illinois, the … Continue reading

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Illinois State Fair butter cow

The Illinois State Fair’s first butter cow, sculpted in 1922, was the image of an actual champion cow, the University of Illinois’ Raleigh’s Sibyl. Raleigh’s Sibyl produced 18,847 pounds of milk in 1920, a record at the time. Nebraska sculptor … Continue reading

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Sangamon Ordnance Plant

Dozens of seemingly out-of-place structures dot farm fields west of Illiopolis, the last reminders of what once was one of the U.S.’s largest producers of World War II artillery ammunition. From 1942 to 1945, the Sangamon Ordnance Plant produced 24 … Continue reading

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