Category Archives: Farming

Hemp in Sangamon County

Note: This entry has been edited. See below. Long before it was mistakenly confused with marijuana, hemp was, briefly, a big business in Sangamon County. In a lengthy pitch published in the March 23, 1848, Illinois Weekly State Journal, entrepreneur … Continue reading

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‘Alfalfa train,’ 1913

The alfalfa train was an automobile caravan that traveled to the ends of Sangamon County for five days in June 1913, carrying experts who preached the gospel of alfalfa hay. Over the five days, the half-dozen alfalfa advocates and dozens … Continue reading

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The Cottage Garden

Springfield banker Nicholas Ridgely (1800-88) turned his love of plants and gardens into a business in 1849 when he started the Cottage Garden and Nursery in the area roughly bounded by 13th, 15th, Washington and Reynolds streets. Ridgely, who owned … Continue reading

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The Sangamon River

In 1831, a new Illinois county was formed from parts of Madison and Bond counties. The new county was named for the river that bisected it: the Sangamon. The headwater of the Sangamon River is a small stream emerging from … Continue reading

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Lake Springfield holdout, 1933

Leander Shoup vowed to go down in a blaze of gunfire rather than relinquish his 123 acres of farmland to inundation by Lake Springfield. The city of Springfield won a lawsuit to take over the land, a little over a … Continue reading

Posted in Crime and vice, Farming, Law enforcement, Local government, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Farm machinery, 1870s-1950s

Sangamon County farms switched from man- and horsepower to fully mechanized operations in fits and starts over more than 80 years. But the key impetus may have been six disastrous weeks of rain in the fall of 1926. Traction engines … Continue reading

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Johnston-Hatcher fires, 1907 & 1913

The Johnston-Hatcher Co. sold home furnishings of all kinds from 1899 to 1949 in downtown Springfield. The store, however, fell victim to two of the city’s most devastating early 20th-century fires. Johnston-Hatcher was the creation of two sets of brothers … Continue reading

Posted in Agriculture, Airport, Amusements, Auto dealers, Buildings, Business, Crime and vice, Disasters, Farming, Fires, Presidents, Prominent figures, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Price-Prather House, Williamsville (National Register)

Williamsville’s Price-Prather House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places partly for its architectural features, but the building’s early owners, especially J. Frank Prather (1859-1927), played major roles in development of the beef cattle industry in Sangamon County, … Continue reading

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Sangamon County Farm Bureau

The Sangamon County Farm Bureau was organized on Oct. 13, 1917, with a membership of 300 farmers, each of whom pledged to donate $10 toward the hiring of a county soil adviser. Sangamon County’s action was part of a wave … Continue reading

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Corn husking competitions

Nearly 4,000 “farmers, farmers’ wives and children” jammed the grounds of the F.I. Taylor farm near New Berlin on Nov. 21, 1924, for the first annual Illinois State Corn Husking contest. The competition, sponsored by Prairie Farmer magazine, continued into … Continue reading

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