Category Archives: Media

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

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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

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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 | Leave a comment

Armistice celebrations, Nov. 11, 1918

On Nov. 11, 1918, the parades started at 4 a.m. News that negotiators had agreed on an armistice to end World War I reached Springfield shortly after 2:30 a.m. that Monday. Middle of the night or not, celebrations – spontaneous, … Continue reading

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Sangamo Monitor

The Sangamo Monitor, published from 1873 until 1898, for a time sold more copies than either the Illinois State Journal or Illinois State Register. Most of the credit goes to Thomas Winfield Scott Kidd (1828-1904), the Monitor’s popular, freewheeling publisher. … Continue reading

Posted in Communications, Media, Prominent figures | 2 Comments