Author Archives: editor

Springfield in 1939, according to the Federal Writers Project

Editor: This entry, originally published in 2014, has been revised and expanded. Illinois: A Descriptive and Historical Guide was part of the American Guide series, which profiled each of the then-existing 48 states during the 1930s. The American Guides were … Continue reading

Posted in Buildings, Communities, Depression, Historic Sites, Histories, Illinois capital, Lincoln, Abraham, Maps, Markers, Springfield, Transportation | Leave a comment

Charles Wood/Carlo Modini, operatic tenor

A torrential rainstorm beat down on Springfield the evening of Sept. 16, 1886. But the weather didn’t stop local opera aficionados from packing the Chatterton Opera House at Sixth and Jefferson streets to hear tenor virtuoso Carlo Modini. “Nearly every … Continue reading

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Dr. Sheppard A. Ware, physician

Dr. Sheppard Anderson Ware (1872-1948) was a physician in Springfield for 40 years. He was also was a member of the Sangamon County Medical Society and additionally worked for the Illinois State Department of Health. Born in Brownsville, Tenn., Ware … Continue reading

Posted in African Americans, Ethnic groups, Politics, Prominent figures, Public health | Leave a comment

First Prohibition bootlegger, 1919

The 14 gallons of whiskey federal agents seized on May 30, 1919, made Servia Diaz Springfield’s first officially recognized Prohibition bootlegger. Diaz (1897-1975), an immigrant from Spain, claimed he had made the liquor “only for his own use ‘cause he … Continue reading

Posted in Crime and vice, Hotels & taverns, Law enforcement, Social life | Leave a comment

‘Alfalfa train,’ 1913

The alfalfa train was an automobile caravan that traveled to the ends of Sangamon County for five days in June 1913, carrying experts who preached the gospel of alfalfa hay. Over the five days, the half-dozen alfalfa advocates and dozens … Continue reading

Posted in Agriculture, Farming, Science, Soil | Leave a comment

National Emancipation Monument (proposed)

A statue of a black Civil War soldier was to be the centerpiece of a National Emancipation Monument that African-American residents of Springfield hoped would be erected in the city. The effort, which lasted from 1889 to 1893, ultimately was … Continue reading

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First woman dentist

Jennie F. Spurrier (1847-1912) was a dentist in Springfield beginning in 1877, making her the city’s first woman dentist and one of the earliest female dentists in the U.S. From what we know of her, she also seems to have … Continue reading

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Fortune-teller scandal, 1897

A fortune-teller with a gift of gab went to prison in 1897, thanks partly to an investigation by Springfield’s first woman dentist. Arthur A. Waite went by the name of “Luke Leslie” when he set up shop at Second and … Continue reading

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Sacred Heart Church

It was a warm day in June 1884 when Catholics gathered on 12th Street near Cook Street in Springfield to lay the cornerstone for what was to be the area’s second German-oriented Catholic church. The two-story brick building, which included … Continue reading

Posted in Architecture, Buildings, Churches, Ethnic groups, Germans, Slovenians | 10 Comments

‘Segregated district,’ 1909-15

In the early 20th century, the city of Springfield set aside a few square blocks where prostitutes were allowed to ply their trade without interference from police. The theory behind the quasi-legal “segregated district” was to keep the rest of … Continue reading

Posted in Crime and vice, Local government, Public health, Springfield Survey, Women | Leave a comment