Category Archives: Prominent figures

Sweet gum trees

Springfield folklore says the city’s population of sweet gum trees (and their annoying, spiky “gum ball” seed pods) dates from the great elm tree die-off of the late 1940s. And sweet gums indeed were one of the main tree species … Continue reading

Posted in Environment, Prominent figures, Science | 4 Comments

First window glass

“Squire Job” Fletcher, one of Sangamon County’s earliest officials and a member of the “Long Nine” that secured Springfield as the state capital, apparently was the first county resident to have glass windows in his home. John Carroll Power recorded … Continue reading

Posted in Early residents, Local government, Native Americans, Prominent figures | Leave a comment

R.F. Herndon & Co. (dry goods, women’s clothing)

R.F. Herndon & Co. sold dry goods, women’s clothing and hats for more than 130 years in Springfield. Herndon’s operated the first horseless delivery vehicle in Springfield, and its third location featured one of Springfield’s first passenger elevators, an innovation … Continue reading

Posted in Business, Department stores, Prominent figures, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

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

Rees Memorial Carillon

Before the Springfield Park Board could build a carillon in Washington Park, it had to answer two questions: how many bells would it hold, and what kind would they be? When newspaper publisher Thomas Rees died in 1933, he left … Continue reading

Posted in Architecture, Communications, Journalism, Local government, Parks, Prominent figures, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Dr. Don Deal, surgeon and visionary

In the 1920s, Dr. Don Deal correctly predicted Springfield’s reinvention as a medical center. Springfield’s medical establishment “draws from a larger surrounding territory, in proportion to its population, than any other city in the United States,” Deal told fellow members … Continue reading

Posted in Medicine, Prominent figures, Public health, Science, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Dennis Williams, crayon artist

  This entry, originally written in 2013, was greatly expanded and corrected in 2021, thanks to the research of Mary Frances of Springfield. See “Contributor” note at end. Dennis Williams (1851-89), born an enslaved person in Mississippi, became an acclaimed … Continue reading

Posted in African Americans, Arts and letters, Business, Prominent figures | 2 Comments

Savillah Hinrichsen, librarian and suffragist

When William “Buck” Hinrichsen took office as Illinois secretary of state in 1893, he appointed his sister, Savillah Hinrichsen, as assistant state librarian. The term “assistant,” however, was misleading – the secretary of state is also titularly the state librarian, … Continue reading

Posted in Arts and letters, Prominent figures, State government, Women | Leave a comment

S.A. Barker Co.

Samuel A. Barker began his apparel career as a “bundle boy,” gathering discarded garments from shop floors for sorting and cleaning. He ended it as the owner of S.A. Barker Co., one of Springfield’s best-known women’s clothing stores. Barker (1885-1968) … Continue reading

Posted in Business, Department stores, Prominent figures | 1 Comment