Category Archives: Churches

Temperance movement, 1874

Springfield’s women’s temperance movement lost much of its momentum in 1874, after a (male) Methodist minister went out of his way to blame the local liquor trade on immigrant Germans and Irish. Doubly unfortunate for the crusading women, Rev. William … Continue reading

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Slovenians in Sangamon County

In 1909, Slovenian immigrants Josef Grobelnik and Bartol Ramschak operated a popular tavern on South 15th Street. At the time, southeast Springfield was filled with young Eastern European families—most of them new arrivals to the U.S. While Grobelnik and Ramschak … Continue reading

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Rules for the First Methodist Church choir (1887)

Singing in a church choir was a duty to be taken seriously in 1887, at least if you belonged to the choir of First Methodist Episcopal Church in Springfield. The photos below spell out all the rules. But singers had … 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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Washington Hall, 1922-26

In the 1920s, the Washington Street Mission operated a rehabilitation center for young prostitutes in what now (2018) is the Chesapeake Seafood House. The facility closed in 1926, with no publicity and no explanation. Fifty years later, however, the mission’s … Continue reading

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Buffalo Hart Presbyterian Church

When European settlers first came to the Buffalo Hart area in 1824, the most noticeable feature of the landscape was a large grove of trees surrounded by prairie. Most of the early residents built their homes on the edge of … Continue reading

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The Harrison Revival, 1886

Thomas Harrison, “the boy preacher,” was well past boyhood when he arrived in Springfield for a revival series in January 1886. It’s not clear, in fact, that he was ever that boyish in the pulpit – Harrison, born in Boston … Continue reading

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Calvary Cemetery

Calvary Cemetery, Springfield’s Catholic cemetery, operated for almost 70 years as almost two cemeteries – one for Germans and the other for everybody else. Calvary was founded in 1857, when two of the city’s earliest local parishes bought 16 acres … Continue reading

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‘Napkin social,’ First Methodist Church (1895)

The napkin above, printed in 1895, is a rare relic of a fundraising technique that was popular among women’s church groups in the late 19th century – “napkin socials.” The idea was that members of a group – in this … Continue reading

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Patrick Henry statue, St. Joseph School

The mystery of what happened to St. Joseph School’s statue of Patrick Henry may never be solved. But the question of how a life-sized marble sculpture of a Protestant patriot happened to stand above the entrance of a Catholic school … Continue reading

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