Category Archives: Politics

Dick Sullivan, political ‘boss’

Dick Sullivan, reputed to be Sangamon County’s behind-the-scenes political master for the first two decades of the 20th century, died in a violent train collision in New York state in 1923. Richard M. Sullivan (1874-1923), his wife Clara (1875-1923), their … Continue reading

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Gov. Len Small arrested, 1921

The Aug. 9, 1921, arrest of Gov. Len Small for alleged corruption created a daylong drama in Springfield. It was performed on three stages: the Capitol, the governor’s mansion and the Sangamon County Courthouse. Stars included Small, county Sheriff Henry … Continue reading

Posted in Crime and vice, Illinois capital, Law enforcement, Local government, Politics, Prominent figures, Spectacles, State government, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

First Black U of I trustee

John J. Bird became the first African-American trustee of the University of Illinois more than a decade before the school even had any Black students. Bird’s tombstone in Oak Ridge Cemetery doesn’t mention that distinction, but its text does include … Continue reading

Posted in African Americans, Education, Higher education, Illinois capital, Politics, Prominent figures, State government, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Shelby M. Cullom (U.S. Senate)

Shelby M. Cullom won his first election by four votes. It was the start of a 60-year political career that would take him to the edge of the presidency. As a lawmaker, Cullom (1829-1914) “sometimes seemed to plod,” an obituary … Continue reading

Posted in John T. Stuart, Lincoln, Abraham, Local government, Oak Ridge signs, Politics, Presidential candidates, Prominent figures, State government | Leave a comment

Edward L. Baker (editor, diplomat)

As a newsman, Edward L. Baker delivered two of the biggest stories of the 19th century to Springfield. As a diplomat, Baker was too good to remove, no matter which party controlled the federal government. “Ned” Baker (1829-97) was only … Continue reading

Posted in Communications, Journalism, Lincoln, Abraham, Media, Oak Ridge signs, Politics, Prominent figures | 3 Comments

Gov. William H. Bissell

When Gov. William Bissell was reburied in 1871, the crowd may have been bigger than at any Springfield funeral since that of Abraham Lincoln. Bissell was the first Republican, first college graduate and first disabled person elected governor. He also … Continue reading

Posted in Illinois capital, Markers, Oak Ridge signs, Politics, Prominent figures, Spectacles, State government, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Harry Lane, ‘boss gambler’

Chester M. “Harry” Lane was Springfield’s gambling kingpin at the turn of the 20th century, apparently with the connivance of police, city officials, and the courts. He stepped down in the mid-1900s, after a fatal shooting, the election of a … Continue reading

Posted in Amusements, Buildings, Business, Crime and vice, Hotels & taverns, Journalism, Law enforcement, Media, Politics, Prominent figures | 1 Comment

Dismantled statues, Illinois Statehouse lawn

The statue of Pierre Menard that formerly stood on the Illinois Statehouse grounds was a gift from a citizen of Missouri. Was it a good likeness of Illinois’ first lieutenant governor? Nobody knows. The Menard statue, along with that of … Continue reading

Posted in Historic Sites, Illinois capital, Markers, Politics, Presidential candidates, Prominent figures, State government, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Harry Eielson’s miracle touchdown, 1918

Harry Eielson was a dominant athlete in high school and college. The Springfield High School basketball team, with Eielson as captain, won the 1917 state championship. Eielson took first place in pole vault at the 1915-16 state track meet, setting … Continue reading

Posted in Local government, Politics, Prominent figures, Sports and recreation | 3 Comments

William Ide, William Todd and California’s Bear Flag rebellion

Two former Sangamon County residents played key roles in the rebellion that overturned Mexican rule in California in  1846. William B. Ide (1796-1852), was the rebellion’s leader and military commander. William L. Todd (1818-1876), one of Ide’s soldiers, helped create … Continue reading

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