Category Archives: Early residents

Lucy Rountree and family

For the past 30 years, the story of Thomas Jefferson and his relationship with the enslaved Sally Hemmings has gained America’s attention through books, movies, and the integration of Jefferson’s descendants, both white and African-American, at family reunions. Unfortunately, Sally’s … Continue reading

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First Rochester schools

The 1881 History of Sangamon County, Illinois, Together with Sketches of Its Cities, Villages and Townships includes two short accounts of the earliest schoolhouses and teachers near Rochester. As described, the schools were rough and improvised, and one burned down in … Continue reading

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Hebrew Ground, Oak Ridge Cemetery

“Hebrew Ground” at Oak Ridge Cemetery is the resting place of 342 early Jewish settlers to Springfield and Central Illinois. It is marked by a plaque, dedicated in September 2023, that sits in front of the graves of Springfield’s first … Continue reading

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Mazeppa (vanished town)

Long before there was any Ukrainian presence to speak of in Sangamon County, there was a town with a Ukrainian name. The town of Mazeppa stood for a few years after 1837 in what is now Ball Township, on the … Continue reading

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Strawbridge-Shepherd House

Thomas Strawbridge Jr. (1798-1880) was born in County Donegal, Ireland, one of seven children of Thomas and Jane Mitchell Strawbridge. Thomas’ mother died in May 1809, when Thomas was only 11 years old. The year following her death, the Strawbridge … Continue reading

Posted in Agriculture, Architecture, Buildings, Early residents, Farming, Historic Sites, National Register, Prominent figures, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Making bread, 1819

Even the most necessary tasks were a struggle for the first European residents of Sangamon County. Take baking bread, for instance, as described in the History of the Early Settlers of Sangamon County (1876) by John Carroll Power (1819-94); the … Continue reading

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U.S. Grant marches to Island Grove, 1861

In 1927, Benjamin Warfield Brown, the son of agricultural pioneer James N. Brown, published a short memory of then-Col. U.S. Grant’s 1861 visit to the Brown family farm in western Sangamon County. The visit turned out to be, literally, part … Continue reading

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James N. Brown, founder of Illinois State Fair

James N. Brown helped create the Republican Party in Illinois. He bred famous shorthorn cattle on a showplace farm that stretched across Sangamon and Morgan counties. He was the second person (behind Cyrus McCormick, but ahead of Jonathan Baldwin Turner … Continue reading

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‘The Story of the House,’ by Alice Bunn

Alice Bunn (1867-1953) was born and died in the spacious home at 435 S. Sixth St. that was built by her father, Jacob Bunn, in the 1850s. The house was torn down for a parking lot in July 1953, a … Continue reading

Posted in Amusements, Architecture, Buildings, Children, Early residents, Family life, Histories, Prominent figures, Social life, Women | 2 Comments

First window glass

“Squire Job” Fletcher, one of Sangamon County’s earliest officials and a member of the “Long Nine” that secured Springfield as the state capital, apparently was the first county resident to have glass windows in his home. John Carroll Power recorded … Continue reading

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