Category Archives: Agriculture

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

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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

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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

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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

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‘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

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The Cottage Garden

Springfield banker Nicholas Ridgely (1800-88) turned his love of plants and gardens into a business in 1849 when he started the Cottage Garden and Nursery in the area roughly bounded by 13th, 15th, Washington and Reynolds streets. Ridgely, who owned … Continue reading

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The Sangamon River

In 1831, a new Illinois county was formed from parts of Madison and Bond counties. The new county was named for the river that bisected it: the Sangamon. The headwater of the Sangamon River is a small stream emerging from … Continue reading

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Cotton fields of Sangamon County

Sangamon County was “as good a cotton country as Georgia,” one early resident told John Carroll Power for Power’s 1876 History of the Early Settlers of Sangamon County, Illinois. That changed, however, after the winter of the Deep Snow in … Continue reading

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Rainfall records, 1926

Two massive rainstorms made Springfield a virtual island on Sept. 8, 1926, flooding streets and basements, stranding autos, trains and streetcars, and leading to the electrocution of an Illinois Watch Co. worker. Even people using the Knights of Columbus swimming … Continue reading

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