Category Archives: Business

Danube Swabians in Sangamon County

In February 1903, the SS Pennland docked at Philadelphia, offloading scores of immigrants. One of the newcomers walking off the ship that day was Josef Kohlrus, a 31-year-old miner from Central Hungary.  With $14 in his pocket, Josef’s final destination … Continue reading

Posted in Business, Swabians | 15 Comments

Coe’s Book Store

In 1898, brothers Louis and Harry Coe, together with Ward Carter, organized Coe, Carter and Coe, a retail book and stationery store on the northeast corner of Fifth and Monroe streets. The business, at two different addresses and under three … Continue reading

Posted in Business, Prominent figures | 5 Comments

Broadwell’s building

This entry has been edited to correct information in a photo caption. The building on the northwest corner of Fifth and Washington streets in Springfield was a drugstore for about 125 years. While that tradition ended in 1981, the old … Continue reading

Posted in Architecture, Buildings, Business, Historic Sites, Medicine, Prominent figures | 1 Comment

New Year’s news, 1920

Good news dominated Springfield newspapers on New Year’s Day 1920. The pages of the Illinois State Journal and Illinois State Register were full of predictions about the year to come. Businesspeople were optimistic. Among those the Register quoted was Joseph … Continue reading

Posted in Amusements, Business, Celebrations, Crime and vice, Prominent figures, Public health, Social life | Leave a comment

Bank holiday scrip (1933)

Springfield kept its economy going during the “bank holiday” of 1933 by printing its own money. State and federal officials ordered banks across the nation to close in early March 1933, amid a wave of bank collapses caused by the … Continue reading

Posted in Business, Depression, Local government, State government | 1 Comment

First self-service grocery (1918), first supermarket (1940)

The opening of Springfield’s first self-service grocery in March 1918 meant lower prices – thanks to the layoffs of three clerks. The innovator was Moran Market on the northwest corner of Eighth and Washington streets, whose manager, Clyde McElroy, announced … Continue reading

Posted in Buildings, Business | 7 Comments

Fred R. Coats Co.

This entry has been updated and expanded. Fred R. Coats deserves to be ranked with Robert Lanphier, John W. Hobbs and the Weaver brothers among Springfield’s top industrialists and innovators. Coats (1865-1951), born in Bennington, N.Y., came to Springfield with … Continue reading

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Root beer stands

This entry has been edited to add photo above. Root beer stands first appear in Springfield city directories in 1931, with three outlets mentioned: A&W Root Beer, 408 E. Adams St; Icy Root Beer, Fifth Street and South Grand Avenue; … Continue reading

Posted in Amusements, Business, Restaurants | 6 Comments

Hemp in Sangamon County

Note: This entry has been edited. See below. Long before it was mistakenly confused with marijuana, hemp was, briefly, a big business in Sangamon County. In a lengthy pitch published in the March 23, 1848, Illinois Weekly State Journal, entrepreneur … Continue reading

Posted in Agriculture, Business, Farming, Industry | 2 Comments

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