Category Archives: Industry

The J.C. Ayling kite factory

The J.C. Ayling Kite Co., which got its start in a backyard shed on North Seventh Street, manufactured millions of Jolly Boy kites in Springfield from 1911 until the 1940s. The key to the company’s success was an innovation developed … Continue reading

Posted in Business, Children, Industry | 2 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 | 35 Comments

The Coal Palace

Sangamon County showed off its most valuable mineral by building a “grand coal palace” for the 1889 county fair. The idea for the palace apparently originated with an unidentified Illinois State Journal staff member only two weeks before the scheduled … Continue reading

Posted in Amusements, Architecture, Buildings, Business, Coal mines and mining, Industry, Labor unions, Spectacles | Leave a comment

Ridgely family

Nicholas Ridgely, a Maryland native who moved to Sangamon County in 1835, was the father of 13 children by two wives (both named Jane). Here is a look at several Ridgelys who played prominent roles in 19th-century Springfield. *Nicholas Ridgely … Continue reading

Posted in African Americans, Business, Industry, Local government, Prominent figures, Railroads | 6 Comments

Springfield in 1912 (‘General Facts’)

Above is a page from Springfield: The Capital of the State of Illinois (1912), published by the Springfield Commercial Association, a forerunner of the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce. Perhaps the most illuminating “general fact” to the modern reader is … Continue reading

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The Pasfield family (1830s to 1930)

Three men named George Pasfield — father, son and grandson, usually distinguished as “the first George Pasfield,” “Dr. George Pasfield” and “George Pasfield Jr.” — played major roles in the growth of Springfield over nearly a century. 1830s George Pasfield … Continue reading

Posted in Buildings, Business, Early residents, First Citizens, Historic Sites, Hotels & taverns, Illinois capital, Industry, Local government, Parks, Prominent figures | Leave a comment

Central Illinois Public Service Co.

The utility company now part of the utility conglomerate Ameren Illinois was founded in Mattoon as an electric streetcar line in 1902. The firm eventually moved into other businesses — electric generation and distribution and delivery of  natural gas, water … Continue reading

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Armbruster Manufacturing Co.

Armbruster Manufacturing Co., which bills itself as “America’s oldest tent maker,” got its start when Rudolph Armbruster (1852-1922) opened an upholstery business on South Fifth Street in 1875. In its early years, the company also sold “foot rests, folding rockers, … Continue reading

Posted in Business, Industry, Military, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Illinois Agricultural Works

The Illinois Agricultural Works, founded in 1882, had a farm implement plant at 10th and South streets for a few years. However, it is most notable because of its status as an early, failed business venture of the later cereal … Continue reading

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Allis-Chalmers Manufacturing Co.

The Allis-Chalmers Manufacturing Co. (later Fiat-Allis and Fiatallis) made heavy construction equipment from 1928 until 1985 at a 70-acre plant between Sixth and 11th streets and Stanford Avenue and Stevenson Drive. At its peak in the 1960s, A-C employed about … Continue reading

Posted in Business, Industry, Military | 53 Comments