Monthly Archives: April 2016

John O’Connor, Sr. and Jr.

The legal name of boxer, hotelier and sports promoter Johnny Connors was John O’Connor Sr. His son, John Jr., nicknamed “Buster,” also promoted a variety of athletic events under the last name Connors. Both men are in the Springfield Sports … Continue reading

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Empire Hotel

Johnny Connors’ Empire Hotel, 416-24 E. Jefferson St., was a regular stop for nationally known boxers and other athletes in the early 20th century. See Johnny Connors (boxer, saloon-keeper).

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Grover Cleveland Alexander (baseball pitcher)

Grover Cleveland Alexander, one of baseball’s greatest pitchers, was living at Springfield’s Empire Hotel when he was elected to the baseball Hall of Fame. See Johnny Connors (boxer, saloon-keeper).

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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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J. Emil Smith (newspaperman, mayor)

J. Emil Smith served in several city government positions, including as mayor from 1926 to 1930, but he is mainly known as editor of the Illinois State Journal from 1930 to 1955. He wrote an editorial page column, “Making Conversation,” … Continue reading

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Late-night Springfield, 1935

J. Emil Smith wrote a daily column, “Making Conversation,” for more than 28 years, starting when he became editor of the Illinois State Journal in 1930. Much of the column was made up of briefs, jokes, poems and birthday notices for friends … Continue reading

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Jack Johnson (boxing champion)

“Battle royals” in Springfield were a springboard to fame for boxer Jack Johnson, who went on to become the first African-American heavyweight champion. Johnson (1878-1946) was tutored in Springfield by Johnny Connors (1867-1966), a  boxer himself as well as a … 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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William Lochridge

William Lochridge was a merchant, banker and business promoter in Pawnee in the late 19th century. After losing his businesses in the financial panics of 1893 and 1896, he moved to Springfield, where he became an innkeeper. See Hotel Normandie. 

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Hotel Delmar

The Hotel Delmar was at 313 S. Fourth St. from about 1927 until 1946. Its predecessor at that address was the Hotel Normandie. 

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