Category Archives: Journalism

Mumblety-peg slaying, 1889

Theophilus “Moonlight” Waldron was a 15-year-old orphan, living on the streets and by his wits, when he stabbed to death a man over a game of mumblety-peg. Waldron (1874-?) was sentenced to life in prison for murder, a judgement many … Continue reading

Posted in African Americans, Crime and vice, Journalism, Law enforcement, Media | 1 Comment

Harry Lane, ‘boss gambler’

Chester M. “Harry” Lane was Springfield’s gambling kingpin at the turn of the 20th century, apparently with the connivance of police, city officials, and the courts. He stepped down in the mid-1900s, after a fatal shooting, the election of a … Continue reading

Posted in Amusements, Buildings, Business, Crime and vice, Hotels & taverns, Journalism, Law enforcement, Media, Politics, Prominent figures | 1 Comment

W.W. Watts, theater impresario

William Walter “W.W.” Watts flopped the first time he opened a theater in Springfield. But his stepson-in-law persuaded Watts to try again, saying there was “big money in 5-cent picture shows.” The younger man was right. Watts (1868-1937), an Ohio … Continue reading

Posted in Amusements, Business, Journalism, Media, Prominent figures, Social life, Theaters | Leave a comment

Three killed in saloon shootout, 1905

A drunken shootout in a Springfield saloon in 1905 left three men dead and two brothers charged with murder. The cause was a previous fistfight, followed by a series of telephoned challenges, newspaper articles reported. Those killed were all from … Continue reading

Posted in Communications, Crime and vice, Hotels & taverns, Journalism, Law enforcement | 3 Comments

The “divine healer” sensation, 1896

August Schrader, “the divine healer,” set up shop in Springfield for 10 days in 1896. Thousands of people, complaining of maladies ranging from arthritis to kidney disease to blindness, sought treatment. Crowds blocked downtown streets, and trains brought people to … Continue reading

Posted in Amusements, Journalism, Medicine, Spectacles | 2 Comments

New Year’s 1921

What was on the minds of Sangamon County residents for New Year’s 1921? Potholes. For its special New Year’s coverage on Sunday, Jan. 2, 1921, the Illinois State Journal asked 47 “prominent citizens” (not surprisingly for the time, all were … Continue reading

Posted in Amusements, Business, Celebrations, Journalism, Law enforcement, Local government, Prominent figures, Social life, Transportation | Leave a comment

Springfield in 1947 (Saturday Evening Post)

When Elise Morrow critiqued Springfield for the Saturday Evening Post in 1947, local leaders reacted with wounded pride, insults and pompous denial. Among their many complaints was Morrow’s passing reference to the city’s tolerance for gambling and prostitution. “Springfield’s vice … Continue reading

Posted in Histories, Journalism, Lincoln Tomb, Media, Springfield, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

First African-American juror in Sangamon County

The first black person to serve on a jury in Sangamon County may have been Thomas Flynn, a barber, on March 18, 1873. Flynn wasn’t the first African-American called to jury service in the county, but an earlier attempt – … Continue reading

Posted in African Americans, Ethnic groups, Journalism, Law enforcement, Prominent figures | 2 Comments

Newsboys vs. the mayor, 1921

When a newsboy stiffed Mayor Charles Baumann out of 2 cents change, Baumann ordered city police to dismantle every news stand in downtown Springfield. But the newsboys had allies of their own, including an influential group of civic-minded women. The … Continue reading

Posted in Children, Communications, Journalism, Local government, Media, Prominent figures, Public health, Springfield Survey | Leave a comment

Poisoning and racial controversy, 1860

The sentencing of three African-American teenagers in 1860 on charges they tried to poison the employers of two of them highlighted differences in how courts and the newspapers treated blacks and whites at the time. Perhaps inevitably, the case also … Continue reading

Posted in Abolitionism, African Americans, Crime and vice, Journalism, Law enforcement, Media, Politics, Prominent figures | Leave a comment