Category Archives: Agriculture

Osage orange (hedge apple)

The heyday of living fences on farms lasted less than 30 years. But Osage orange trees, descendants of fencerows planted as early as the 1840s, still line country roads and fill hedge lines throughout central Illinois. As the name suggests, … Continue reading

Posted in Agriculture, Farming | 1 Comment

Pioneer women’s memories

For the 1879 meeting of the Old Settlers of Sangamon County, president Roland Diller read letters he had solicited from some of the county’s pioneer women. They were reprinted in the History of Sangamon  County, Illinois, published in 1881 by … Continue reading

Posted in Agriculture, Children, Early residents, Family life, Women | 2 Comments

Hemp in Sangamon County

Note: This entry has been edited. See below. Long before it was mistakenly confused with marijuana, hemp was, briefly, a big business in Sangamon County. In a lengthy pitch published in the March 23, 1848, Illinois Weekly State Journal, entrepreneur … Continue reading

Posted in Agriculture, Business, Farming, Industry | 2 Comments

‘Alfalfa train,’ 1913

The alfalfa train was an automobile caravan that traveled to the ends of Sangamon County for five days in June 1913, carrying experts who preached the gospel of alfalfa hay. Over the five days, the half-dozen alfalfa advocates and dozens … Continue reading

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The Cottage Garden

Springfield banker Nicholas Ridgely (1800-88) turned his love of plants and gardens into a business in 1849 when he started the Cottage Garden and Nursery in the area roughly bounded by 13th, 15th, Washington and Reynolds streets. Ridgely, who owned … Continue reading

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The Sangamon River

In 1831, a new Illinois county was formed from parts of Madison and Bond counties. The new county was named for the river that bisected it: the Sangamon. The headwater of the Sangamon River is a small stream emerging from … Continue reading

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Cotton fields of Sangamon County

Sangamon County was “as good a cotton country as Georgia,” one early resident told John Carroll Power for Power’s 1876 History of the Early Settlers of Sangamon County, Illinois. That changed, however, after the winter of the Deep Snow in … Continue reading

Posted in Agriculture, Business, Early residents | 2 Comments

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

Posted in Agriculture, Business, Farming, Industry | 4 Comments

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

Posted in Agriculture, Airport, Amusements, Auto dealers, Buildings, Business, Crime and vice, Disasters, Farming, Fires, Presidents, Prominent figures, Uncategorized | 2 Comments