Category Archives: Business

Poston Brick & Concrete Co.

Brickyards sprouted in Springfield almost as soon as European settlers reached Sangamon County, but the longest-lived was Poston Brick & Concrete Co., which operated on South Grand Avenue for almost 60 years. “Nature was in a most generous mood when … Continue reading

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R.F. Herndon & Co. (dry goods, women’s clothing)

R.F. Herndon & Co. sold dry goods, women’s clothing and hats for more than 130 years in Springfield. Herndon’s operated the first horseless delivery vehicle in Springfield, and its third location featured one of Springfield’s first passenger elevators, an innovation … Continue reading

Posted in Business, Department stores, Prominent figures, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

First passenger elevator (1876)

What apparently was Sangamon County’s first passenger elevator was installed at a dry-goods store, Kimber & Ragsdale, on the south side of today’s Old Capitol Plaza, in 1876. Kimber & Ragsdale, owned by W.F. Kimber (1836-1911) and Thomas Ragsdale (1812-92), … Continue reading

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‘Tamale men’ (1890s)

Roving “tamale men” became a late-night phenomenon in downtown Springfield around the turn of the 20th century, and a single family kept the tradition going until the 1960s. The Illinois State Journal reviewed the local tamale industry – “for the … Continue reading

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Leland Farm (1880)

The Leland Farm, 600-some acres on what today is Springfield’s near west side, supplied the Leland Hotel with the freshest of food for decades. The hotel operated at Sixth Street and Capitol Avenue from 1867 until 1970 (not counting a … Continue reading

Posted in Agriculture, Business, Hotels & taverns, Restaurants | 2 Comments

Skyrocket Inn

What to do after a long day – and night – at the Illinois State Fair? The after-fair, after-hours mecca for everyone from carnies to Hell’s Angels to local movers and shakers was the Skyrocket Inn, right across the street … Continue reading

Posted in Amusements, Business, Hotels & taverns, Illinois State Fair, Lithuanians, Lithuanians, Social life | 3 Comments

Dennis Williams, crayon artist

  This entry, originally written in 2013, was greatly expanded and corrected in 2021, thanks to the research of Mary Frances of Springfield. See “Contributor” note at end. Dennis Williams (1851-89), born an enslaved person in Mississippi, became an acclaimed … Continue reading

Posted in African Americans, Arts and letters, Business, Prominent figures | 2 Comments

S.A. Barker Co.

Samuel A. Barker began his apparel career as a “bundle boy,” gathering discarded garments from shop floors for sorting and cleaning. He ended it as the owner of S.A. Barker Co., one of Springfield’s best-known women’s clothing stores. Barker (1885-1968) … Continue reading

Posted in Business, Department stores, Prominent figures | 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