Category Archives: Prominent figures

Comer Cox, Urban League leader

Comer Cox, the namesake of Comer Cox Park in Springfield, was an Alabama native and star athlete in his  youth who went on to lead the Springfield Urban League. Comer Lane Cox was born May 9, 1905, in Athens, Ala. … Continue reading

Posted in African Americans, Business, Parks, Prominent figures, Social services | Leave a comment

Benjamin Stephenson and the Grand Army of the Republic

Somewhere in Mississippi in early 1864, two comrades in the 14th Illinois Volunteer Infantry agreed that, when the Civil War was over, Union Army soldiers ought to organize “some form of association to preserve the friendships and memories of their … Continue reading

Posted in Military, Museums, Prominent figures | Leave a comment

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

Allen Cigar Store explosion, 1929

“Springfield’s original optimist” died in a soda fountain explosion on Sept. 7, 1929. Matt Reavley (1879-1929) was an employee and part-owner of Allen Cigar Store, which at the time had operated for 20 years on the northwest corner of Sixth … Continue reading

Posted in Business, Prominent figures, Restaurants, Social life | 4 Comments

Pawnee posse captures burglars, 1899

A posse of Pawnee citizens corralled two burglars in a remote crossroads schoolhouse on Dec. 9, 1899. The two surrendered after a tense standoff. But their criminal careers would include one last episode in Springfield. The men, identified as Frank … Continue reading

Posted in Crime and vice, Law enforcement, Prominent figures | Leave a comment

U.S. Grant marches to Island Grove, 1861

In 1927, Benjamin Warfield Brown, the son of agricultural pioneer James N. Brown, published a short memory of then-Col. U.S. Grant’s 1861 visit to the Brown family farm in western Sangamon County. The visit turned out to be, literally, part … Continue reading

Posted in Celebrations, Early residents, Historic Sites, Military, Presidents, Prominent figures, Social life | Leave a 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

Springfield Sallies (professional women’s baseball)

The Springfield Sallies were one of the least successful, and also shortest-lived, teams in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. The league, whose memory was revived by the 1992 movie “A League of Their Own,” lasted from 1943 to 1954. … Continue reading

Posted in Amusements, Parks, Prominent figures, Sports and recreation, Women | 2 Comments

Alfred Piquenard, Statehouse architect

The question of who deserves credit for designing the Illinois Statehouse has a complicated answer. When commissioners awarded the first design contract, newspaper stories called it “the plan of J.C. Cochrane,” referring to Chicago architect John C. Cochrane. An early … Continue reading

Posted in Architecture, Buildings, Historic Sites, Illinois capital, Prominent figures, State government | 2 Comments

Statehouse entrance revamped (1885-86)

For the first decade of its existence, people entering the east doors of the Illinois Statehouse had to stagger up a massive “grand staircase” to the building’s second floor. That changed in the 1880s, thanks to what was cutting-edge technology … Continue reading

Posted in Architecture, Buildings, Disasters, Fires, Historic Sites, Illinois capital, Irish, John T. Stuart, Local government, Prominent figures, State government | Leave a comment