Category Archives: Military

Jesse L. McCoy, WWII “daggerman”

Shortly after Pearl Harbor, Jesse L. McCoy of Springfield converted a ceremonial sword once used by a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows into a couple of daggers. By the time he and World War II were finished, … Continue reading

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Lithuanian-American war casualties (WW I&II)

A long-vanished plaque inside a demolished Catholic church once memorialized eight Lithuanian-American soldiers who died in uniform during World Wars I and II. The plaque hung in St. Vincent de Paul Church, the last “national church” – churches that predominantly … Continue reading

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Benjamin Stephenson and the Grand Army of the Republic

Somewhere in Mississippi in early 1864, two comrades in the 14th Illinois Volunteer Infantry agreed that, when the Civil War was over, Union Army soldiers ought to organize “some form of association to preserve the friendships and memories of their … Continue reading

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U.S. Grant marches to Island Grove, 1861

In 1927, Benjamin Warfield Brown, the son of agricultural pioneer James N. Brown, published a short memory of then-Col. U.S. Grant’s 1861 visit to the Brown family farm in western Sangamon County. The visit turned out to be, literally, part … Continue reading

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Fourth of July, 1921

Springfield residents celebrated the Fourth of July 100 years ago with picnics, sports and reenactment of the World War I battle of Chateau Thierry. There was no single community fireworks show, but a showy sunset, caused by a dust and … Continue reading

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Leroy Key, Andersonville hero

Leroy Key made his mark in history as a prisoner of war. Key died in Springfield in 1880, possibly because of aftereffects of the time he spent in the horrific Confederate prisoner-of-war camp at Andersonville, Ga., during the Civil War. … Continue reading

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First Civil War combat death

Updated: See “The case for Elmer Ellsworth,” below. The first Sangamon County resident to die as a result of combat in the Civil War was a carpenter from Springfield. Heaton Hill, about 28, was shot during the siege of Lexington, … Continue reading

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First European buried in Sangamon County

The first European to die in Sangamon County apparently was a U.S. Ranger enlisted to help protect early European settlers from Native Americans during the War of 1812. The man, probably named William Hewitt, was shot in an unprovoked scuffle … Continue reading

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Luann McDaniel, Valley Forge nurse

Of more than 50 Revolutionary War veterans thought to be buried in Sangamon County, Luann McDaniel is the only woman. According to family tradition, McDaniel (1759-1850) acted as a nurse at Valley Forge during the winter of 1777-78. Her husband, … Continue reading

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Earle Baker Perce, Antarctic explorer

Perce Point, a headland on an island on the west edge of Antarctica, commemorates a Williamsville man’s role in exploring some of the last unknown places on earth. Earle Baker Perce (1910-68) was a U.S. Navy radioman and pilot when … Continue reading

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