Monthly Archives: June 2020

Ethel Mars, artist, bohemian

Gertrude Stein’s prose-poem “Miss Furr and Miss Skene” was the first literary use of the word “gay” in the context of a same-sex relationship. The woman Stein called “Miss Furr” was patterned on Springfield-born artist and bohemian Ethel Mars (1876-1956?); … Continue reading

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Camp Sangamo

When the Boy Scouts opened their first Camp Sangamo in 1920, the amenities included a Victrola, a croquet set and two rowboats. But no telephone. As the Scout organization explained in the Illinois State Journal prior to opening: There will … Continue reading

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Illinois State Fair cancelled, 1942

Farmers, horse race owners and state officials scrambled for alternatives when World War II forced cancellation of the 1942 Illinois State Fair. A couple of months after Pearl Harbor, the U.S. Army Air Forces leased the state fairgrounds for use … Continue reading

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Albert Booth family, wagon makers

The A. Booth and Son Wagon Factory once dominated the northeast corner of Eighth and Washington Streets in Springfield. The factory was built by Albert Booth (1813-1873), who moved his family from Menard to Sangamon County around 1840. He first … Continue reading

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Alfred Booth, grocer, developer

Alfred Booth was a grocer and property developer in Springfield for more than 60 years. His most obvious legacy is the eight-story Booth Building at 516-18 E. Monroe Street. At the height of his career, Booth (1853-1939) developed single-family residences, … Continue reading

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Charles Longest, stickup artist and Army hero

Charles Longest was in state prison, accused of being the mastermind of an ambitious Springfield robbery gang, when he was judged fit to serve in World War II. See Springfield stickup gang, 1938. 

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Springfield’s statewide stickup gang, 1938

Authorities squelched a statewide crime wave with the arrests of a Springfield-based stickup gang in March 1938. Sangamon County assistant state’s attorney John Curren called the group, which he credited with 150 or more robberies, “the best organized gang of … Continue reading

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‘Big Tent Theatre’ photographs

These photos apparently are publicity stills produced when the Depression-era Federal Theatre Project played a season of live, professional theater in a tent at West Grand Avenue (today’s MacArthur Boulevard) and Outer Park Drive in 1936. The venue was known … Continue reading

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