Category Archives: Local government

Dick Sullivan, political ‘boss’

Dick Sullivan, reputed to be Sangamon County’s behind-the-scenes political master for the first two decades of the 20th century, died in a violent train collision in New York state in 1923. Richard M. Sullivan (1874-1923), his wife Clara (1875-1923), their … Continue reading

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1910 Springfield Park Board election: ‘Shameful & disgraceful’

Political insiders went all-out to rig the 1910 Springfield Park Board election. “Spreading around the apparent victory (of incumbent park board members) lurks the shadow of the most amazing corruption of the elective franchise known in the history of Springfield,” … Continue reading

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Police officer killings, 1885

When Leonard Gardnier left his Springfield apartment the evening of Aug. 23, 1885, he told his wife to “dress up real nice, because he wanted her to make as pretty a corpse as possible.” An hour or so later, Gardnier, … Continue reading

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East Springfield village hall and ‘calaboose’

Invisible and almost inaccessible, tucked into the side of the 19th Street overpass, a tumbledown brick building was in 2022 the last remnant of the once-feisty village of East Springfield. When constructed in 1901, the building served as the East … Continue reading

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Memorial Pool

On June 16, 1928, a crowd of about 750 people attended the grand opening of Soldiers’ and Sailors Memorial Pool on Springfield’s north end. The pool was named to honor all U.S. service personnel who perished in wars spanning the … Continue reading

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Illinois State Fair crisis, 1922-23

The big question after the 1922 Illinois State Fair was whether there would be another one in 1923. On one level, the problem involved ownership of the fairgrounds. When Sangamon County turned the former site of the county fair over … Continue reading

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Gov. Len Small arrested, 1921

The Aug. 9, 1921, arrest of Gov. Len Small for alleged corruption created a daylong drama in Springfield. It was performed on three stages: the Capitol, the governor’s mansion and the Sangamon County Courthouse. Stars included Small, county Sheriff Henry … Continue reading

Posted in Crime and vice, Illinois capital, Law enforcement, Local government, Politics, Prominent figures, Spectacles, State government, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Stray dog eradication, 1935

Hoping to stop a rabies epidemic, authorities declared open season on stray dogs in Sangamon County in 1935. Police and dog catchers killed hundreds of dogs that year in what one Illinois State Journal headline called a “brutal” eradication campaign. … Continue reading

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First school for Black children

Springfield’s Colored Baptist Church created what apparently was the city’s first school open to African-American children in the late 1840s. It was a struggle to keep open, but it took a decade before the city finally opened a public school … Continue reading

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First parking meters (1941)

Confusion, reluctance and a little apprehension were Springfieldians’ responses to the city’s first parking meters. The Illinois State Journal described their debut in its Oct. 24, 1941, edition. Springfield entered a new era of streamlined parking control yesterday as nearly … Continue reading

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