Category Archives: Military

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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Hiram Shumate (last Civil War veteran)

Sangamon County’s last Civil War veteran, Hiram Shumate of Riverton, died, at age 98, on New Year’s Day 1948. At the time of his death, Shumate had been state commander of the dwindling Grand Army of the Republic since 1940 … Continue reading

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World War I memorial, First Street and North Grand Avenue

Sangamon County’s memorial to those who died in World War I sits, mysteriously, on a tiny lot at the southeast corner of First Street and North Grand Avenue. In a mish-mash of uncoordinated commemorations, however,  the corner as of October … Continue reading

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Sangamon County’s Confederate memorial

Note:  Camp Butler itself (see link below) describes its Confederate obelisk as a “monument.” However, it probably is more accurate to call it a “memorial,” because the obelisk was erected, as its inscription says, in memory of  Confederate soldiers buried … Continue reading

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Western Cartridge Co. explosion, 1920

Four men were killed on June 24, 1920, when an explosion and fire wrecked part of a smokeless gunpowder plant northeast of Springfield. The Western Cartridge Co., based in East Alton, opened the plant in 1915. Powder manufactured in Springfield … Continue reading

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Dr. Daniel Ottis (World War I surgeon)

Dr. Daniel M. Ottis (1870-1929) was a prominent surgeon in Springfield who also was known for organizing the Sangamon County-based Unit W of the U.S. Medical Service during World War I. The Illinois State Journal summarized Ottis’ career in his … Continue reading

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Flu epidemic, 1918-20

This entry has been edited to correct the birth year of Geneva Casstevens. Thanks to Karen Forsberg (see comments) for the correction. Health officials closed churches, schools and theaters, barred street gatherings and set up a special hospital at the … Continue reading

Posted in Disasters, Medicine, Military, Public health | 4 Comments