Category Archives: Prominent figures

Labor Day, 1918

Springfield union members made plans for a giant parade on Labor Day 1918, one designed to highlight labor’s support for U.S. soldiers fighting in World War I as well as for the union movement. But it was rained out. The … Continue reading

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Fashions in men’s hats, 1904 (John Lutz store)

Hats were a high-fashion item for men in 1904, and John Lutz, one of downtown’s longest-lasting hatters and haberdashers, offered a lot of choices. When he died, Lutz (1856-1921) had sold men’s clothing from the same address, 204 S. Sixth … Continue reading

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Maj. George W. Ford (Camp Butler superintendent)

Maj. George W. Ford was a rarity – an African-American who held a supervisory position in early 20th-century Sangamon County. Ford (1847-1939) also was an outspoken opponent of the Ku Klux Klan and racism, a friend of both W.E.B. DuBois … Continue reading

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The Lincoln Home after the Lincolns (1861-1953)

For nearly a century after Abraham and Mary Lincoln left it, other people lived in and managed their former home at Eighth and Jackson streets. Among the eclectic group were a railroad executive, a couple of politicians, a physician, an … Continue reading

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First African-American juror in Sangamon County

The first black person to serve on a jury in Sangamon County may have been Thomas Flynn, a barber, on March 18, 1873. Flynn wasn’t the first African-American called to jury service in the county, but an earlier attempt – … Continue reading

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Peter Cartwright, preacher

Peter Cartwright called himself “God’s Plowman,” referring to his 60 years of building Methodist congregations throughout the Midwest. Cartwright (1785-1872) was already a successful preacher in Kentucky (his native state) and western Tennessee when he and his family moved to … Continue reading

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A.C. Littlejohn fraud and suicide

Angus Littlejohn, once a pillar of Springfield’s business community, spent three years in the 1930s trying to recoup his reputation and keep himself out of prison. He failed. On the morning of July 2, 1938, five minutes before he was … Continue reading

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John Schnepp, mayor & embezzler

John S. Schnepp (1866-1954) was a lawyer, real estate developer and two-time mayor of Springfield. He also was an embezzler and philanderer. With his thefts on the verge of exposure in January 1932, Schnepp disappeared. Discovered three years later selling … Continue reading

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Springfield fire protection, 1850s-’70s

Fires that demolished swaths of the downtown square in the 1850s led – eventually – to Springfield creating a full-time fire department. But city fathers first had to remedy another problem that plagued local firefighting efforts: a water shortage. An “incendiary” – … Continue reading

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Washington Hall, 1922-26

In the 1920s, the Washington Street Mission operated a rehabilitation center for young prostitutes in what now (2018) is the Chesapeake Seafood House. The facility closed in 1926, with no publicity and no explanation. Fifty years later, however, the mission’s … Continue reading

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