Monthly Archives: December 2016

Illinois State Fairgrounds Coliseum

The Illinois State Fairgrounds Coliseum was a huge hit when it first opened to fairgoers in 1901. But not huge enough, because the building had to be substantially expanded only two years later. The Coliseum, declared unsafe for use in … Continue reading

Posted in Architecture, Buildings, National Register, State government | 4 Comments

First Christmas parade (1914)

Thousands of people turned out to see Santa Claus parade through Springfield on Christmas Eve 1914, but the parade, which was part of a much larger communitywide holiday celebration, wasn’t repeated for another 15 years. Children – “urchins,” as the … Continue reading

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First escalator

The first “electric stairway” in Sangamon County was installed when the John Bressmer Department Store was rebuilt following a spectacular fire in 1948. See Bressmer Department Store fire.

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I.A. Madden (first county soil adviser)

I.A. Madden was hired away from Illinois State University to become the Sangamon County Farm Bureau’s first soil adviser in 1918. See Sangamon County Farm Bureau.

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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

Posted in Agriculture, Farming, Prominent figures | 2 Comments

Bressmer department store fire, 1948

Fire caused by a lightning bolt destroyed the John Bressmer Co. department store in downtown Springfield early on May 2, 1948. First reports estimated damages of $2 million. Even though that figure was later adjusted downward to about $1.3 million, … Continue reading

Posted in Buildings, Business, Department stores, Fires | 2 Comments

Samuel Lewis (first rural mail carrier)

Samuel Lewis of Auburn was the first person to contract with the U.S. Post Office to deliver mail to rural residents of Sangamon County. See Rural mail delivery begins, 1896.

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Frank Hatch Jones (politician, postmaster)

Frank Hatch Jones of Springfield (later Chicago) was U.S. first assistant postmaster general when mail delivery began to rural households. See Rural mail delivery begins, 1896. 

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Rural mail delivery begins, 1896

The first rural mail deliveries in Sangamon County – in fact, in all of Illinois – took place in the Auburn area on Dec. 10, 1896. Rural Free Delivery, as it became known, started as a nationwide experiment, one many … Continue reading

Posted in Communities, Politics, Prominent figures | 1 Comment