Category Archives: Disasters

Pawnee High School fire, 1958

Pawnee High School was demolished by a fire on Feb. 24, 1958, that was ignited by a student attempting to break into the school’s vault. Frank Carlos Ewing Jr., 15, admitted to Sangamon County sheriff’s investigators that he broke into … Continue reading

Posted in Buildings, Communities, Crime and vice, Disasters, Education, Law enforcement | 13 Comments

Sangamon Ordnance Plant

Dozens of seemingly out-of-place structures dot farm fields west of Illiopolis, the last reminders of what once was one of the U.S.’s largest producers of World War II artillery ammunition. From 1942 to 1945, the Sangamon Ordnance Plant produced 24 … Continue reading

Posted in African Americans, Agriculture, Buildings, Communities, Disasters, Industry, Military, Transportation, Women | 31 Comments

Fire devastates east side of Auburn square, 1910

A fire that destroyed the entire east side of the Auburn town square early on March 16, 1910, was described in the March 18 edition of the Auburn Citizen. Here is the Citizen’s story.  Auburn has costly fire At about … Continue reading

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Chinchilla rescue, 1957

Springfield firefighters in 1957 saved 72 comatose chinchillas via what sounds like a form of mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. The chinchillas were being raised in cages next to a garage at 722 S. 25th St., home of a business called the Capitol … Continue reading

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Elm devastation, 1940s

The malady that killed thousands of Sangamon County’s elm trees in the late 1940s wasn’t the dreaded Dutch elm disease. It was worse. The Illinois State Journal sounded the first alarm in its Aug. 3, 1945 edition: “Elm attacked by … Continue reading

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Explosion on North Seventh Street, 1937

Authorities blamed a Springfield arson ring for a massive explosion that destroyed two north-end houses and damaged dozens of others on March 17, 1937. Eight people were charged with arson and insurance fraud in the case. But the main defendant … Continue reading

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Weather disasters

Memorable weather disasters populate a number of Sangamon County histories and reminiscences. Here are some of the most notable, as outlined in a talk to the Sangamon County Historical Society on Jan. 20, 2014 by Curtis Mann of Lincoln Library’s … Continue reading

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Europeans first moved into what now is Loami Township in 1819, but the village of Loami didn’t get its start until William and Ebenezer Colburn erected a steam saw and grist mill there in 1836. A settlement grew up around the … Continue reading

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John Bressmer Co.

The John W. Bressmer Co. was founded as a dry goods store in 1861 and later expanded into a full-fledged department store, selling men’s and women’s clothing, furniture and household items. With Myers Brothers, it was one of downtown Springfield’s … Continue reading

Posted in Architecture, Business, Department stores, Disasters, Historic Sites, National Register, Prominent figures | 4 Comments

The Deep Snow

Snow began falling in central Illinois on Christmas Eve 1830 and didn’t let up for nine weeks, according to a later memoir by the Rev. John Bergen. At the same time, the temperature fell to zero and below — as … Continue reading

Posted in Disasters, Early residents, Prominent figures | Tagged , | 1 Comment