Category Archives: Military

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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William Ide, William Todd and California’s Bear Flag rebellion

Two former Sangamon County residents played key roles in the rebellion that overturned Mexican rule in California in  1846. William B. Ide (1796-1852), was the rebellion’s leader and military commander. William L. Todd (1818-1876), one of Ide’s soldiers, helped create … Continue reading

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World War I memorial (new)

An obelisk bearing the names of 113 Sangamon Countians who died of wounds or disease in World War I was created in the early 2000s by John Kerasotes, a member of Springfield’s pioneering movie theater family. Kerasotes, however, remained anonymous, … Continue reading

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Lincoln Library and World War I

World War I doughboys wanted reading material – “good red-blooded fiction” and more – and they got it with the help of Springfield’s Lincoln Library. But a small box stored for almost a century in the Sangamon Valley Collection, the … Continue reading

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Maj. George W. Ford (Camp Butler superintendent)

Maj. George W. Ford was a rarity – an African-American who held a supervisory position in early 20th-century Sangamon County. Ford (1847-1939) also was an outspoken opponent of the Ku Klux Klan and racism, a friend of both W.E.B. DuBois … Continue reading

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Army Air Force depot, Illinois State Fairgrounds (WWII)

Livestock moved out of the Illinois State Fairgrounds with the start of World War II, and soldiers moved in. The U.S. Army Air Force took over the fairgrounds in March 1942 and operated a supply depot and training facility there … Continue reading

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Camp Butler (Civil War training camp)

At the start of the Civil War in 1861, states scrambled to build training facilities for the influx of raw recruits.  Springfield’s first attempt at a location was Camp Yates, an area bordered today by Washington, Governor, Lincoln and Douglas … Continue reading

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