Category Archives: Prominent figures

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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Doc Helm, photographer

Eddie Winfred “Doc” Helm, whose striking photographs documented African-American life in Springfield for 50 years, started his career as the man responsible for raising and lowering the flag over the Illinois Statehouse. Helm (1911-94), who grew up in Mount Vernon, … Continue reading

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‘Humane officer’ report, April 1904

Charles Stone (1847?-1911) was appointed Springfield’s first humane officer in November 1903. The position was part of the Springfield Police Department, and the humane officer had all the powers of any other police officer, but with the special duty of … Continue reading

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Paul M. Angle, historian

Of the 35 eminent Illinois writers whose last names are engraved on the frieze that decorates the  Illinois State Library, only three had significant connections to Sangamon County. Two are predictable – Abraham Lincoln and Vachel Lindsay. The third is … Continue reading

Posted in Architecture, Arts and letters, Buildings, Histories, Lincoln, Abraham, Prominent figures | 2 Comments

The Elks Club Group (1952)

Adlai Stevenson II’s 1952 presidential campaign attracted the most talented, eloquent political team ever assembled in Springfield (well, except for Abraham Lincoln working by himself). Stevenson’s team of speechwriters and idea men (there apparently were no women) was known as … Continue reading

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Daniel Pope Cook (Congressman, land owner)

The young lawyer for whom Cook County was named was a landowner in early Springfield and the man who prodded the Illinois territorial legislature to apply for statehood. Daniel Pope Cook was born in Kentucky in 1794 and moved to … Continue reading

Posted in Prominent figures, Springfield, State government | 1 Comment

H.B. Hill insurance scandal & suicide, 1934

With the insurance company he founded linked to Chicago crooks and his own job gone, Springfield financier H.B. Hill tried make his suicide look like a gangland murder. Hill shot himself in the head sometime on the afternoon of Dec. … Continue reading

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Hotel Abraham Lincoln opens (1925)

The Hotel Abraham Lincoln opened in 1925 with 300 rooms, a five-piece house band, its own radio station, and lavish décor. And, it turned out, with lousy timing. “The Abe,” which was on the southwest corner of Fifth Street and … Continue reading

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Labor Day, 1918

Springfield union members made plans for a giant parade on Labor Day 1918, one designed to highlight labor’s support for U.S. soldiers fighting in World War I as well as for the union movement. But it was rained out. The … Continue reading

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Fashions in men’s hats, 1904 (John Lutz store)

Hats were a high-fashion item for men in 1904, and John Lutz, one of downtown’s longest-lasting hatters and haberdashers, offered a lot of choices. When he died, Lutz (1856-1921) had sold men’s clothing from the same address, 204 S. Sixth … Continue reading

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