Author Archives: editor

White Oaks Mall opening day lineup (1977)

“Think of us as your Big Apple,” White Oaks Mall boasted in ads on Grand Opening Day, Aug. 24, 1977. Ninety-nine stores lined the corridors of the mall that day, including four “anchor” department stores – Myers Brothers, Famous-Barr, Sears … Continue reading

Posted in Amusements, Buildings, Business, Department stores, Social life, Spectacles | Leave a comment

Jerome Leland’s pigeons

In the early 20th century, Springfield hotel menus often included squab – breast of squab, “royal squab sur canape,” etc. But pigeons (the more common name for squab) made their way into the heart, not the stomach, of Jerome A. … Continue reading

Posted in Agriculture, Animals, Buildings, Farming, Hotels & taverns, Parks, Prominent figures | 3 Comments

Strawbridge-Shepherd House

Thomas Strawbridge Jr. (1798-1880) was born in County Donegal, Ireland, one of seven children of Thomas and Jane Mitchell Strawbridge. Thomas’ mother died in May 1809, when Thomas was only 11 years old. The year following her death, the Strawbridge … Continue reading

Posted in Agriculture, Architecture, Buildings, Early residents, Farming, Historic Sites, National Register, Prominent figures, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

First Black U of I trustee

John J. Bird became the first African-American trustee of the University of Illinois more than a decade before the school even had any Black students. Bird’s tombstone in Oak Ridge Cemetery doesn’t mention that distinction, but its text does include … Continue reading

Posted in African Americans, Education, Higher education, Illinois capital, Politics, Prominent figures, State government, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Making bread, 1819

Even the most necessary tasks were a struggle for the first European residents of Sangamon County. Take baking bread, for instance, as described in the History of the Early Settlers of Sangamon County (1876) by John Carroll Power (1819-94); the … Continue reading

Posted in Agriculture, Early residents, Farming, Histories, Mills, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Garden Court

Young veterans and their families filled all 281 Garden Court duplexes within six months after they opened in 1950. Each renter occupied half of a duplex in a winding development south and east of the 2500 block of East Cook … Continue reading

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First school for Black children

Springfield’s Colored Baptist Church created what apparently was the city’s first school open to African-American children in the late 1840s. It was a struggle to keep open, but it took a decade before the city finally opened a public school … Continue reading

Posted in African Americans, Children, Churches, Education, Local government, Schools and school districts | Leave a comment

Andrew McFarland (mental health center namesake)

Dr. Andrew McFarland, the namesake of the Andrew McFarland Mental Health Center near Springfield, directed the Illinois Hospital and Asylum for the Insane in Jacksonville in the mid-1870s. Perversely, McFarland (1817-91) also helped expand the rights of people accused of … Continue reading

Posted in Medicine, Social services, Women | Leave a comment

Sherwood subdivision

“A home in Sherwood is an investment in happiness,” Vredenburgh Lumber Co. promised when it marketed its new development in the 1960s. It was an effective pitch: In 2022, Sherwood was the largest single-family-home subdivision in Springfield. Sherwood’s 656 homes … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Covid-19: History in the making

At least three local institutions are documenting the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on individuals in Illinois as it happens. Representatives of all three gave presentations May 17, 2022, to the Sangamon County Historical Society. Results from two of the … Continue reading

Posted in Disasters, Medicine, Public health, Resources, Science | Leave a comment