Category Archives: Prominent figures

The Majestic theatre, 1907-35

“Springfield society assembled en masse on the evening of May 23, 1907, when the Majestic Theatre opened its doors for the first time”, the Illinois State Register reported in 1935. By then, the Majestic, 415-21 S. Fifth St., was no … Continue reading

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W.W. Watts, theater impresario

William Walter “W.W.” Watts flopped the first time he opened a theater in Springfield. But his stepson-in-law persuaded Watts to try again, saying there was “big money in 5-cent picture shows.” The younger man was right. Watts (1868-1937), an Ohio … Continue reading

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New Year’s 1921

What was on the minds of Sangamon County residents for New Year’s 1921? Potholes. For its special New Year’s coverage on Sunday, Jan. 2, 1921, the Illinois State Journal asked 47 “prominent citizens” (not surprisingly for the time, all were … Continue reading

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Fairview, home of William H. Herndon

The property where William Herndon compiled much of his biography of Abraham Lincoln never became a state park, but part of the house where Herndon worked still overlooks the Sangamon River north of Springfield. Herndon (1818-91) was Lincoln’s third and … Continue reading

Posted in Arts and letters, Buildings, Lincoln, Abraham, Prominent figures, State government | 5 Comments

Courting and marriage in early Illinois

Speaking to the 1873 meeting of the Old Settlers of Sangamon County, former Gov. John Palmer remembered the process of courting and marriage when he arrived in Illinois in the 1830s. From the 1881 History of Sangamon County; together with … Continue reading

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First hunting license (1903)

The first hunting license ever issued in Sangamon County went to the father of Illinois’ hunting license law, railroad executive Horace S. Rearden. Illinois had regulated hunting since 1853, when the state made it unlawful “for any person to kill … Continue reading

Posted in Amusements, Animals, Prominent figures, Sports and recreation | 1 Comment

Boyhood during the Deep Snow

Zimri Enos was nine years old when the Deep Snow hit Sangamon County on Dec. 30, 1830. Snowstorms continued almost constantly for eight weeks. At its height, average snow depth was four to five feet, and the snow was accompanied … Continue reading

Posted in Children, Disasters, Early residents, Family life, Histories, Prominent figures, Social life, Uncategorized, Weather | 1 Comment

Bluford Wilson (lawyer, corruption fighter)

In his later years, Maj. Bluford Wilson was a railroad lawyer in Springfield. His spare time was consumed with church work, politics and, apparently, cultivating a luxuriant mustache. But as a young man, Wilson helped break up the Whiskey Ring, … Continue reading

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Old Capitol restoration, 1960s

Before the Old State Capitol was restored to the way it looked in the 1850s, the building housed Springfield’s public restrooms. You could tell by the odor. Earl “Wally” Henderson (1931-2016), co-founder with Don Ferry of the Ferry & Henderson … Continue reading

Posted in Architecture, Buildings, First Citizens, Historic Sites, Illinois capital, Local government, Museums, National Register, Prominent figures, Sangamon County, State government | Leave a comment

Shadid’s Book Mart

Shadid’s Book Mart began business at 322 S. Sixth St. on Aug. 4, 1958, after Mitchell, Woodrow and Phillip Shadid bought out the stock of a defunct book store downtown. The brothers at first called their shop the “Mag & … Continue reading

Posted in Business, Prominent figures | 8 Comments