Category Archives: Agriculture

Joseph McCoy and the McCoy brothers

Joseph, William and James McCoy, in a sense, created the Wild West. The McCoys, three brothers from Cartwright Township, organized the original cattle drives and turned Abilene, Kansas, into the West’s first great cow town. A giant segment of American … Continue reading

Posted in Agriculture, Business, Prominent figures | 1 Comment

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

Posted in Agriculture, Animals, Early residents, Environment, Farming, Prominent figures | 2 Comments

Leland Farm (1880)

The Leland Farm, 600-some acres on what today is Springfield’s near west side, supplied the Leland Hotel with the freshest of food for decades. The hotel operated at Sixth Street and Capitol Avenue from 1867 until 1970 (not counting a … Continue reading

Posted in Agriculture, Business, Hotels & taverns, Restaurants | 2 Comments

Klever’s Model controversy (‘the hog case’)

The world of Poland China swine revolved around Williamsville in the 1890s, thanks to stockman George G. Council and his prize boar, Klever’s Model. When Council (1864-1944) put Klever’s Model up for sale in 1897, a syndicate made up of … Continue reading

Posted in Agriculture, Animals, Farming, Prominent figures | 3 Comments

Sangamon Fair and Springfield Exposition, 1890

The Sangamon Fair and Springfield Exposition of 1890 would be “one of the grandest events in the way of a local fair that has ever been held in the state of Illinois,” the Illinois State Register proclaimed that August. Everybody … Continue reading

Posted in Agriculture, Amusements, Illinois State Fair, Spectacles | Leave a comment

Illinois State Fair settles in Springfield (1894)

An unelected board designated Springfield as the permanent site of the Illinois State Fair in 1894, after lawmakers spent 15 years proving they couldn’t do the job. From 1853, when the first state fair was held in Springfield, the show … Continue reading

Posted in Agriculture, Amusements, Farming, Illinois State Fair, Spectacles | Leave a comment

Osage orange (hedge apple)

The heyday of living fences on farms lasted less than 30 years. But Osage orange trees, descendants of fencerows planted as early as the 1840s, still line country roads and fill hedge lines throughout central Illinois. As the name suggests, … Continue reading

Posted in Agriculture, Farming | 5 Comments

Pioneer women’s memories

For the 1879 meeting of the Old Settlers of Sangamon County, president Roland Diller read letters he had solicited from some of the county’s pioneer women. They were reprinted in the History of Sangamon  County, Illinois, published in 1881 by … Continue reading

Posted in Agriculture, Children, Early residents, Family life, Women | 2 Comments

Hemp in Sangamon County

Note: This entry has been edited. See below. Long before it was mistakenly confused with marijuana, hemp was, briefly, a big business in Sangamon County. In a lengthy pitch published in the March 23, 1848, Illinois Weekly State Journal, entrepreneur … Continue reading

Posted in Agriculture, Business, Farming, Industry | 2 Comments

‘Alfalfa train,’ 1913

The alfalfa train was an automobile caravan that traveled to the ends of Sangamon County for five days in June 1913, carrying experts who preached the gospel of alfalfa hay. Over the five days, the half-dozen alfalfa advocates and dozens … Continue reading

Posted in Agriculture, Farming, Science, Soil | Leave a comment