Category Archives: Early residents

Cotton fields of Sangamon County

Sangamon County was “as good a cotton country as Georgia,” one early resident told John Carroll Power for Power’s 1876 History of the Early Settlers of Sangamon County, Illinois. That changed, however, after the winter of the Deep Snow in … Continue reading

Posted in Agriculture, Business, Early residents | 2 Comments

Peter Cartwright, preacher

Peter Cartwright called himself “God’s Plowman,” referring to his 60 years of building Methodist congregations throughout the Midwest. Cartwright (1785-1872) was already a successful preacher in Kentucky (his native state) and western Tennessee when he and his family moved to … Continue reading

Posted in Churches, Early residents, Historic Sites, Prominent figures | Leave a comment

Hogs and Springfield’s civic spirit

It took years for the city of Springfield to finally ban hogs from roaming downtown streets. To historian Paul M. Angle, however, the fact that the debate even took place  demonstrated that Springfield, at long last, was developing a civic spirit. … Continue reading

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Twelve Mile House

Twelve Mile House was an inn, stagecoach stop and post office in the early 19th century. It later became one of the landmarks used when Illinois officials designed the highway that became Route 66 and then Interstate 55. Where, exactly, … Continue reading

Posted in Buildings, Early residents, Historic Sites, Hotels & taverns, Maps, Transportation | 3 Comments

Malaria in early Sangamon County

The Sangamo Country of the early 1800s was an agricultural paradise in many ways, but it had one major drawback: the anopheles mosquito, which carried the malaria parasite. Virtually every early resident of central Illinois was exposed to malaria – … Continue reading

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Old Settlers Society of Sangamon County

Thousands of Sangamon Countians once turned out for the annual reunions of the county’s Old Settlers Society. The events featured games, lavish picnics, speechifying and recognition of some of the county’s earliest residents. The organization began with an appeal in … Continue reading

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Stephen T. Logan (Lincoln law partner)

Springfield had more than its share of star lawyers – Abraham Lincoln, Stephen A. Douglas and others – in the 1830s and ‘40s. But everybody agreed the best trial lawyer on the circuit was a short, cranky Kentucky native named … Continue reading

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The Town Branch

Many of Sangamon County’s first pioneers settled next to the Town Branch, a meandering stream that was early Springfield’s defining topographic feature. Starting in the late 1850s, the creek took on a new role, one it continues to hold today: … Continue reading

Posted in Early residents, John T. Stuart, Local government, Maps, Public health | 1 Comment

Fisher ‘murder’ hysteria, 1841

The case of a “murdered” man who later turned up alive is one of 19th-century Springfield’s best-known legal controversies. That’s mainly because Abraham Lincoln wrote about it, but also because of the roles played by circumstantial evidence, a false confession … Continue reading

Posted in Crime and vice, Early residents, Law enforcement, Lincoln, Abraham, Prominent figures | Leave a comment

The whipping post, 1828-37

A whipping post stood permanently on the northeast corner of Springfield’s public square from 1828 to 1837. It apparently was used infrequently, but often enough that whippings stuck in the minds of those who saw them. The post – which … Continue reading

Posted in Crime and vice, Early residents, Illinois capital, Law enforcement, Local government, Prominent figures, Sangamon County, Uncategorized | 2 Comments