Category Archives: Amusements

The “divine healer” sensation, 1896

August Schrader, “the divine healer,” set up shop in Springfield for 10 days in 1896. Thousands of people, complaining of maladies ranging from arthritis to kidney disease to blindness, sought treatment. Crowds blocked downtown streets, and trains brought people to … Continue reading

Posted in Amusements, Journalism, Medicine, Spectacles | 2 Comments

Theater bombings, 1931-32

Unhappy theater workers were the immediate suspects in 1931, when bombs – both explosives and stink bombs – went off in three local cinemas. A few months later, another bomb wrecked the home of a theater manager. Members of Springfield … Continue reading

Posted in Amusements, Business, Crime and vice, Depression, Labor unions, Law enforcement, Theaters | Leave a comment

New Year’s 1921

What was on the minds of Sangamon County residents for New Year’s 1921? Potholes. For its special New Year’s coverage on Sunday, Jan. 2, 1921, the Illinois State Journal asked 47 “prominent citizens” (not surprisingly for the time, all were … Continue reading

Posted in Amusements, Business, Celebrations, Journalism, Law enforcement, Local government, Prominent figures, Social life, Transportation | Leave a comment

Carl Vandagrift, baseball player/manager

Carl Vandagrift, the only Cantrall native to play major-league baseball, played for or managed at least 10 minor-league teams before he died at age 37. Vandagrift’s big-league career amounted to only 43 games in the short-lived Federal League, which challenged … Continue reading

Posted in Amusements, Sports and recreation | Leave a comment

Courting and marriage in early Illinois

Speaking to the 1873 meeting of the Old Settlers of Sangamon County, former Gov. John Palmer remembered the process of courting and marriage when he arrived in Illinois in the 1830s. From the 1881 History of Sangamon County; together with … Continue reading

Posted in Amusements, Celebrations, Early residents, Family life, Prominent figures, Social life | Leave a comment

First hunting license (1903)

The first hunting license ever issued in Sangamon County went to the father of Illinois’ hunting license law, railroad executive Horace S. Rearden. Illinois had regulated hunting since 1853, when the state made it unlawful “for any person to kill … Continue reading

Posted in Amusements, Animals, Prominent figures, Sports and recreation | 1 Comment

Theodore Lorch, actor

Theodore Lorch, who spent his teenage years in Springfield, was a film and stage actor whose busy career spanned the 1900s through the 1940s. Although he had leading roles in such movies as the 1920 version of “Last of the … Continue reading

Posted in Amusements, Arts and letters, Media, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Sangamon Fair and Springfield Exposition, 1890

The Sangamon Fair and Springfield Exposition of 1890 would be “one of the grandest events in the way of a local fair that has ever been held in the state of Illinois,” the Illinois State Register proclaimed that August. Everybody … Continue reading

Posted in Agriculture, Amusements, Illinois State Fair, Spectacles | Leave a comment

William Dodd Chenery, impresario

The dedication of Lake Springfield on July 12, 1935 featured an elaborate pageant involving more than 100 participants – among them city fathers who portrayed themselves in a drama depicting the planning and construction of the lake. The Illinois State … Continue reading

Posted in Amusements, Arts and letters, Celebrations, Hotels & taverns, Prominent figures, Social life, Spectacles | Leave a comment

‘The Big Tent Theatre’, 1936

The Big Tent Theatre, one of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Depression-relief programs, played to packed houses at West Grand Avenue (today’s MacArthur Boulevard) and Outer Park Drive in 1936. The Big Tent was formally part of the Federal Theatre Project, which … Continue reading

Posted in Amusements, Arts and letters, Depression, Theaters, Uncategorized | 3 Comments