Author Archives: editor

Engine House 5 (“the colored firehouse”)

Engine House 5, 1310 E. Adams St., was known as Springfield’s “colored firehouse” from its construction in 1901 until after its fire company moved to a new building in 1954. “The Springfield Fire Department routinely gave Five the worst of … Continue reading

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Palace Theatre

When the Palace Theatre opened at 1836 S. 15th St. in 1915, the “very pretty little house” became a venue where downtown movies were brought to Springfield’s southeast side. Despite its grand name, the theater was very small– about the … Continue reading

Posted in Amusements, Buildings, Swabians, Theaters, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Bradfordton

Bradfordton owes its existence to a short-lived railroad and its name to a veteran of the War of 1812. Never an incorporated community, Bradfordton – on Illinois 97 (Jefferson Street extended) west of Springfield – originally was known as “Bradfordton … Continue reading

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Southwest Airport

Craig Isbell, who once told Charles Lindbergh he’d never make it across the Atlantic, helped bring Springfield into the age of air. Isbell and a partner, Gelder Lockwood, founded the Springfield Aviation Co., which operated Southwest Airport, on Chatham Road … Continue reading

Posted in Air travel, Airport, Business, Prominent figures, Transportation | 6 Comments

Mumblety-peg slaying, 1889

Theophilus “Moonlight” Waldron was a 15-year-old orphan, living on the streets and by his wits, when he stabbed to death a man over a game of mumblety-peg. Waldron (1874-?) was sentenced to life in prison for murder, a judgement many … Continue reading

Posted in African Americans, Crime and vice, Journalism, Law enforcement, Media | 1 Comment

Klever’s Model controversy (‘the hog case’)

The world of Poland China swine revolved around Williamsville in the 1890s, thanks to stockman George G. Council and his prize boar, Klever’s Model. When Council (1864-1944) put Klever’s Model up for sale in 1897, a syndicate made up of … Continue reading

Posted in Agriculture, Animals, Farming, Prominent figures | 3 Comments

Cotton Hill

Cotton Hill was the only community wiped from the map by the construction of Lake Springfield in the 1930s. But there wasn’t much there to begin with. The Illinois State Journal explained the origin of Cotton Hill in an editorial … Continue reading

Posted in Communities, Local government, Parks | 2 Comments

Harry Lane, ‘boss gambler’

Chester M. “Harry” Lane was Springfield’s gambling kingpin at the turn of the 20th century, apparently with the connivance of police, city officials, and the courts. He stepped down in the mid-1900s, after a fatal shooting, the election of a … Continue reading

Posted in Amusements, Buildings, Business, Crime and vice, Hotels & taverns, Journalism, Law enforcement, Media, Politics, Prominent figures | 1 Comment

St. Nicholas Hotel early days

J. Emil Smith, editor, publisher and columnist for the Illinois State Journal, wrote the following memory of the early St. Nicholas Hotel on Nov. 28, 1943, a few days before the McCreery family relinquished ownership. The McCreerys had operated the … Continue reading

Posted in Buildings, Business, Historic Sites, Hotels & taverns, National Register, Prominent figures, Restaurants, Social life, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

The Lochridge brothers, Pawnee merchants

The Lochridge brothers began as farmers, but became grocers, businessmen, investors and, for a time, bankers. In the process, they helped build the town of Pawnee. The first Lochridges, Revolutionary War veteran Capt. John Lochridge (1761-1851) and his son William … Continue reading

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