Category Archives: Women

First woman dentist

Jennie F. Spurrier (1847-1912) was a dentist in Springfield beginning in 1877, making her the city’s first woman dentist and one of the earliest female dentists in the U.S. From what we know of her, she also seems to have … Continue reading

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‘Segregated district,’ 1909-15

In the early 20th century, the city of Springfield set aside a few square blocks where prostitutes were allowed to ply their trade without interference from police. The theory behind the quasi-legal “segregated district” was to keep the rest of … Continue reading

Posted in Crime and vice, Local government, Public health, Springfield Survey, Women | Leave a comment

Catharine Frazee Lindsay, community visionary

Catharine Frazee Lindsay is remembered mainly as the mother of Springfield’s famous poet, Vachel Lindsay. But many of her son’s ideals and, perhaps, some of his literary talent were inherited from his indefatigable mother. Despite a variety of personal trials, … Continue reading

Posted in Churches, Historic Sites, Lindsay, Vachel, Local government, Prominent figures, Women | 3 Comments

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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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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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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Carrie Post King’s Daughters Home for Women

The Carrie Post King’s Daughters Home for Women opened on Oct. 7, 1895 with five women already in residence, room for four more, and a cow. It also had the support of hundreds of local church women, a unique force … Continue reading

Posted in Buildings, Prominent figures, Social services, Women | 6 Comments

‘Husband, dear husband’: poem by a legislative wife (pre-1881)

The nameless, uncredited poem below was printed in the 1881 History of Sangamon County, Illinois, printed by the Interstate Publishing Co. of Chicago. Here is all the History tells us about it: As is well known, the session of the … Continue reading

Posted in Arts and letters, Histories, Illinois capital, State government, Women | Leave a comment

Ridgely Elementary School, 1914-1926 (Marguerite Soma memories)

In 1997, students at Ridgely Elementary School, 2040 N. Eighth St., interviewed former Ridgely teacher Marguerite Beechler Soma (1894-1997). Her reminiscences were compiled and published on the school’s Alumni Day web site (in fact, the site was dedicated to her). … Continue reading

Posted in Children, Education, Histories, Schools and school districts, Women | 2 Comments

World War I memorial, First Street and North Grand Avenue

Sangamon County’s memorial to those who died in World War I sits, mysteriously, on a tiny lot at the southeast corner of First Street and North Grand Avenue. In a mish-mash of uncoordinated commemorations, however,  the corner as of October … Continue reading

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