Category Archives: Crime and vice

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

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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

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

Stable fire, 1915

Fifty-one horses were “roasted and steamed to death” in a fire that destroyed a stable owned by Ira Dudley in the 900 block of East Washington Street on Sept. 15, 1915. The fire was discovered by two men walking along … 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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Olympics gold-medal winners from Sangamon County  

Olympics gold-medal winners from Sangamon County through 2016, as listed on Wikpedia, were: Ryan Held, Springfield: Men’s 4×100 freestyle relay (swimming), 2016. Graduate of Sacred Heart-Griffin High School. Andre Iguodala, Springfield: Basketball, 2012. Graduate of Lanphier High School, MVP of … Continue reading

Posted in Crime and vice, Prominent figures, Sports and recreation | 4 Comments

‘Cocaine Alley’ (1899-1903)

Note: This entry is based on research done by Floyd Mansberger and Christopher Stratton of Fever River Research for the city of Springfield and Federal Railroad Administration in connection with the Springfield Rail Improvements Project. Their full 358-page report, published … Continue reading

Posted in African Americans, Amusements, Crime and vice, Law enforcement, Local government, Public health, Race riot of 1908, Social life | Leave a 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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The Lake Club

NOTE: This entry has been edited. See below. The Lake Club, 2840 Fox Road, brought top national performers – Mickey Rooney, the Mills Brothers, Guy Lombardo, Pearl Bailey, Lawrence Welk and many more – to Springfield in the 1940s, ‘50s … Continue reading

Posted in Amusements, Buildings, Business, Crime and vice, Hotels & taverns, Law enforcement, Prominent figures, Social life | 9 Comments

Springfield Brewing Co.

The Springfield Brewing Co. operated at 11th and Madison streets from 1933 until late 1946, when it closed in the wake of wartime grain shortages, a federal tax lawsuit, and an embezzling scandal. The grain shortage was unavoidable. The United … Continue reading

Posted in Breweries, Business, Crime and vice, Prominent figures | 2 Comments

Johnny Connors (boxer, saloon-keeper)

Johnny Connors – boxer, saloon-keeper and sportsman – was small in stature, but he played an outsize role in Springfield for nearly 80 years. Connors (1867-1966) was born John O’Connor in Ireland, but boxed as Johnny Connors. He never legally changed … Continue reading

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