Category Archives: Media

First burial of a Japanese

Johei “Joe” Okuhara probably was the first ethnic Japanese to be buried in Springfield, and his also may have been the first Muslim funeral. However, his friends wanted the city to know, he did not live – or die – … Continue reading

Posted in Business, Ethnic groups, Japanese, Media, Prominent figures | Leave a comment

Edward L. Baker (editor, diplomat)

As a newsman, Edward L. Baker delivered two of the biggest stories of the 19th century to Springfield. As a diplomat, Baker was too good to remove, no matter which party controlled the federal government. “Ned” Baker (1829-97) was only … Continue reading

Posted in Communications, Journalism, Lincoln, Abraham, Media, Oak Ridge signs, Politics, Prominent figures | 3 Comments

Mumblety-peg slaying, 1889

Theophilus “Moonlight” Waldron was a 15-year-old orphan, living on the streets and by his wits, when he stabbed to death a man over a game of mumblety-peg. Waldron (1874-?) was sentenced to life in prison for murder, a judgement many … Continue reading

Posted in African Americans, Crime and vice, Journalism, Law enforcement, Media | 1 Comment

Harry Lane, ‘boss gambler’

Chester M. “Harry” Lane was Springfield’s gambling kingpin at the turn of the 20th century, apparently with the connivance of police, city officials, and the courts. He stepped down in the mid-1900s, after a fatal shooting, the election of a … Continue reading

Posted in Amusements, Buildings, Business, Crime and vice, Hotels & taverns, Journalism, Law enforcement, Media, Politics, Prominent figures | 1 Comment

W.W. Watts, theater impresario

William Walter “W.W.” Watts flopped the first time he opened a theater in Springfield. But his stepson-in-law persuaded Watts to try again, saying there was “big money in 5-cent picture shows.” The younger man was right. Watts (1868-1937), an Ohio … Continue reading

Posted in Amusements, Business, Journalism, Media, Prominent figures, Social life, Theaters | Leave a comment

Springfield in 1947 (Saturday Evening Post)

When Elise Morrow critiqued Springfield for the Saturday Evening Post in 1947, local leaders reacted with wounded pride, insults and pompous denial. Among their many complaints was Morrow’s passing reference to the city’s tolerance for gambling and prostitution. “Springfield’s vice … Continue reading

Posted in Histories, Journalism, Lincoln Tomb, Media, Springfield, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

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

WMAY Shower of Stars, 1959

This entry has been edited to correct the date of the plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper. On Feb. 15, 1959, the curtain opened on the stage of the Illinois State Armory, and Harry … Continue reading

Posted in Amusements, Communications, Media | 3 Comments

First African-American mail carrier

When Charles Ellis Sr. was appointed a Springfield mail carrier in 1890 – the first African-American to hold the job – his predecessor refused to show him the route, and the Illinois State Register erupted with a racist personal attack … Continue reading

Posted in African Americans, Ethnic groups, Media | Leave a comment

Doc Helm, photographer

Eddie Winfred “Doc” Helm, whose striking photographs documented African-American life in Springfield for 50 years, started his career as the man responsible for raising and lowering the flag over the Illinois Statehouse. Helm (1911-94), who grew up in Mount Vernon, … Continue reading

Posted in African Americans, Business, Media, Photos and photosets, Prominent figures, Social life, State government | 2 Comments