Author Archives: editor

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 | 8 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

The Irish in early Springfield

There were Irish in Sangamon County before there was Sangamon County. When county commissioners  had to choose a temporary county seat in 1821, the only practical location was a scattering of squatter cabins near what today is First and Jefferson … Continue reading

Posted in Early residents, Irish | 2 Comments

Bee hunting, 1820s

Some of the earliest residents of Sangamon County were drawn here by people’s sweet tooth. Robert Pulliam, generally considered the first person of European descent to move permanently to the county, first visited the Sangamo County in search of maple … Continue reading

Posted in Early residents, Prominent figures | 1 Comment

Catharine Frazee Lindsay, community visionary

Catharine Frazee Lindsay is remembered mainly as the mother of Springfield’s famous poet, Vachel Lindsay. But many of her son’s ideals and, perhaps, some of his literary talent were inherited from his indefatigable mother. Despite a variety of personal trials, … Continue reading

Posted in Churches, Historic Sites, Lindsay, Vachel, Local government, Prominent figures, Women | 3 Comments

Joseph Dickson, mountain man

In his 20s, Joseph Harrison Dickson (1775-1844) was one of the first “mountain men” whose fur-hunting journeys led the way for exploration of the American West. He met Daniel Boone, introduced John Colter (first European to explore the Yellowstone National … Continue reading

Posted in Churches, Early residents, Prominent figures | Leave a comment

The Cottage Garden

Springfield banker Nicholas Ridgely (1800-88) turned his love of plants and gardens into a business in 1849 when he started the Cottage Garden and Nursery in the area roughly bounded by 13th, 15th, Washington and Reynolds streets. Ridgely, who owned … Continue reading

Posted in Agriculture, Buildings, Business, Early residents, Farming, Lincoln, Abraham, Prominent figures | Leave a comment

Doc Helm, photographer

Eddie Winfred “Doc” Helm, whose striking photographs documented African-American life in Springfield for 50 years, started his career as the man responsible for raising and lowering the flag over the Illinois Statehouse. Helm (1911-94), who grew up in Mount Vernon, … Continue reading

Posted in African Americans, Business, Media, Photos and photosets, Prominent figures, Social life, State government | Leave a comment