Category Archives: Social life

New Year’s news, 1920

Good news dominated Springfield newspapers on New Year’s Day 1920. The pages of the Illinois State Journal and Illinois State Register were full of predictions about the year to come. Businesspeople were optimistic. Among those the Register quoted was Joseph … Continue reading

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The jelly-cake controversy of 1891

When Springfield shoe merchants J.F. Miller and P.P. Powell offered a grand piano as top prize in the jelly-cake bakeoff at the Sangamon Fair and Springfield Exposition in 1891, they expected a bushel of free publicity. They got more than … Continue reading

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Italian Villa fire (1932)

The explosion that wrecked the Italian Villa nightclub on East Monroe Street in 1932, killing two, was never explained. Suspicion, fueled by testimony from passersby, the track records of the club’s owners, and a rash of explosions around central Illinois … Continue reading

Posted in Disasters, Hotels & taverns, Italians, Italians, Prominent figures, Restaurants, Social life, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Charles Wood/Carlo Modini, operatic tenor

A torrential rainstorm beat down on Springfield the evening of Sept. 16, 1886. But the weather didn’t stop local opera aficionados from packing the Chatterton Opera House at Sixth and Jefferson streets to hear tenor virtuoso Carlo Modini. “Nearly every … Continue reading

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First Prohibition bootlegger, 1919

This entry has been updated with the photos above. The 14 gallons of whiskey federal agents seized on May 30, 1919, made Servia Diaz Springfield’s first officially recognized Prohibition bootlegger. Diaz (1897-1975), an immigrant from Spain, claimed he had made … Continue reading

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Doc Helm, photographer

Eddie Winfred “Doc” Helm, whose striking photographs documented African-American life in Springfield for 50 years, started his career as the man responsible for raising and lowering the flag over the Illinois Statehouse. Helm (1911-94), who grew up in Mount Vernon, … Continue reading

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Slovenians in Sangamon County

In 1909, Slovenian immigrants Josef Grobelnik and Bartol Ramschak operated a popular tavern on South 15th Street. At the time, southeast Springfield was filled with young Eastern European families—most of them new arrivals to the U.S. While Grobelnik and Ramschak … Continue reading

Posted in Buildings, Business, Churches, Crime and vice, Ethnic groups, Hotels & taverns, Social life | 4 Comments

The Elks Club Group (1952)

Adlai Stevenson II’s 1952 presidential campaign attracted the most talented, eloquent political team ever assembled in Springfield (well, except for Abraham Lincoln working by himself). Stevenson’s team of speechwriters and idea men (there apparently were no women) was known as … Continue reading

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Hotel Abraham Lincoln opens (1925)

The Hotel Abraham Lincoln opened in 1925 with 300 rooms, a five-piece house band, its own radio station, and lavish décor. And, it turned out, with lousy timing. “The Abe,” which was on the southwest corner of Fifth Street and … Continue reading

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Springfield wins minor-league baseball game, 33-23 (1926)

Baseball-mad Springfieldians got more than their money’s worth on July 20, 1926, both on the field and in the next day’s newspaper story. The Springfield Senators, the local entry in the Class B Three-I League, outslugged the Peoria Tractors that … Continue reading

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