Category Archives: Early residents

Bee hunting, 1820s

Some of the earliest residents of Sangamon County were drawn here by people’s sweet tooth. Robert Pulliam, generally considered the first person of European descent to move permanently to the county, first visited the Sangamo County in search of maple … Continue reading

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Joseph Dickson, mountain man

In his 20s, Joseph Harrison Dickson (1775-1844) was one of the first “mountain men” whose fur-hunting journeys led the way for exploration of the American West. He met Daniel Boone, introduced John Colter (first European to explore the Yellowstone National … 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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Widow’s letter, 1841

Letters recently acquired by the Sangamon Valley Collection at Lincoln Library show how one Springfield widow struggled to make a living in the 1840s. The story of Dorothea Grant also illustrates how some employers treated their African-American servants at the … Continue reading

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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

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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

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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

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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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