Category Archives: Social life

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

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 the liquor “only for his own use ‘cause he … 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

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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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Riverton Athletic Club

The mammoth home run Robin Roberts hit on Oct. 14, 1951, remains a highlight in the 80-year history of the Riverton Athletic Club. Roberts, a Springfield native who had just completed the second of his six 20-win seasons as a … Continue reading

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Dan Patch sets state fair race record (1906)

An estimated 40,000 people watched Dan Patch, the world’s most famous harness horse, set a new Illinois State Fair pacing record on Oct. 2, 1906. Dan Patch covered the one-mile fairgrounds track in 1:59¼, the first time a harness horse … 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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