Category Archives: Ethnic groups

‘Cocaine Alley’ (1899-1903)

Note: This entry is based on research done by Floyd Mansberger and Christopher Stratton of Fever River Research for the city of Springfield and Federal Railroad Administration in connection with the Springfield Rail Improvements Project. Their full 358-page report, published … Continue reading

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A. Morris Williams (lawyer, developer)

A. Morris Williams was a prominent African-American attorney and real estate developer in Springfield from the 1900s to the 1930s. See Dudley Hotel.

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Dudley Hotel

The Negro Motorist Green Book, a nationwide guide for the African-American traveler, for 20 years listed only one hotel in Springfield as open to blacks: the Dudley Hotel, 130 S. 11th St. The Dudley and its predecessors at the same … Continue reading

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First Chinese residents

Springfield’s first Chinese residents probably were three laundrymen – identified as As-Sing, Sam-Sing and Chun-Lung – hired by John McCreery, proprietor of the St. Nicholas Hotel, in January 1873. The Illinois State Register reported on their arrival in an article … Continue reading

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Jack Johnson (boxing champion)

“Battle royals” in Springfield were a springboard to fame for boxer Jack Johnson, who went on to become the first African-American heavyweight champion. Johnson (1878-1946) was tutored in Springfield by Johnny Connors (1867-1966), a  boxer himself as well as a … Continue reading

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Joe Yucas (‘King of the Lithuanians’)

This entry has been retitled and greatly expanded. Joe Yucas (1874-1926) was a Springfield bar owner and political operative who the Illinois State Register once called “the King of the Lithuanians.” According to his obituary, Yucas immigrated to the U.S. … Continue reading

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Alby’s Tavern & the Stasukinas family

Alby (Albinas) Stasukinas, son of Lithuanian immigrants Joseph and Rose (Poskevicius) Stasukinas, opened his storied tavern at 14th and Carpenter streets in 1944. Alby quit coal mining in 1940 to work at the Illiopolis munitions plant, but by 1944 he … Continue reading

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Richard Pryor (comedian)

Comedian Richard Pryor (1940-2005) famously grew up in a house of prostitution operated by his father’s mother in Peoria, but he briefly lived in Springfield with his mother and maternal grandparents. Pryor’s mother, Gertrude Thomas Pryor (later Emanuel), also was … Continue reading

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Black Civil War veterans buried at Oak Ridge Cemetery

At least 28 African-American Civil War veterans are buried at Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield, according to Kathleen Heyworth’s Private Lewis Martin and African-American Civil War Soldiers in Springfield, Illinois (2015). The following list, taken from Heyworth’s research, lists each … Continue reading

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Black Civil War soldier’s POW experience

Isaac Gaskin (ca. 1847-1900), born a slave in Mississippi, served with the 29th Regiment of U.S. Colored Troops during the Civil War and was captured by Confederates in the botched Battle of the Crater outside Petersburg, Va., on July 30, … Continue reading

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