Category Archives: Industry

Frank P. Richards, wood carver

In the early 20th century, Frank P. Richards would display his patriotic wood carvings on the front lawn of his home at 1160 Elliott Ave. every Fourth of July. Soldiers from nearby Camp Lincoln would salute as they marched past. … Continue reading

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Top income tax payers, 1863

To finance the Civil War, Congress and President Abraham Lincoln imposed the first nationwide income tax in 1861. Changes the next year made the tax progressive – people with incomes of less than $600 a year (about $18,000 in 2024) … Continue reading

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Elevator Milling Co. fire, 1927

As many as 5,000 people stood in pouring rain the evening of April 8, 1927, watching as a historic grain mill and elevator went up in flames across from the Third Street railroad station. The massive blaze destroyed 45,000 bushels … Continue reading

Posted in Auto dealers, Buildings, Business, Disasters, Fires, Industry, Mills, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Shot-firers, ‘windy shots’ and coal mine safety

The Illinois General Assemply approved a law in 1905 designed to safeguard coal miners from black-powder explosions. It didn’t work that way for John Stratton, Thomas Hiscock, William Wilson, Herman Kownatzky, Robinson Ridley and Loren Dunbar. The six men, all … Continue reading

Posted in Business, Coal mines and mining, Disasters, Industry, Labor unions | 1 Comment

‘The Story of a Watch,’ Illinois Watch Co. silent movie, 1922

Springfield’s Illinois Watch Co. stars in “The Story of a Watch,” a remarkable silent film made in 1922. The Rothacker Film Production Co. of Chicago, which specialized in non-theatrical industrial and advertising films, produced the 52-minute movie. It shows how … Continue reading

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Pillsbury ‘Doughboy’ origin debate (updated, April 2023)

UPDATE (April 2023) Chris Richmond of Moving Pillsbury Forward said in April 2023 that further research determined the “Bicep Doughboy” was created by Pillsbury itself in July 1981. However, Richmond wrote, the possibility remains that the original creator of the … Continue reading

Posted in Arts and letters, Business, Industry | 1 Comment

Guy’s Dropper (miners’ lamp)

The first factory for the Guy’s Dropper, one of the most popular miners’ lamps ever made, was a back porch on Douglas Avenue. The Guy’s Dropper was a carbide lamp, which uses a mix of water and calcium carbide to … Continue reading

Posted in Business, Coal mines and mining, Industry, Prominent figures | 1 Comment

Springfield looks ahead: 1869

As 1869 began, the Illinois State Journal saw Springfield as a growing, prosperous and busy community. And the future looked even brighter: Two coal mines had just opened, plans had been drawn up for a new state Capitol, and the … Continue reading

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Poston Brick & Concrete Co.

Brickyards sprouted in Springfield almost as soon as European settlers reached Sangamon County, but the longest-lived was Poston Brick & Concrete Co., which operated on South Grand Avenue for almost 60 years. “Nature was in a most generous mood when … Continue reading

Posted in Business, Industry, Soil, Uncategorized | 8 Comments

Zinc works, Devereux Heights

Spanish immigrants were skilled zinc workers, but they were also tough labor negotiators, managers of Springfield’s zinc smelter learned. The smelter, owned first by the United Zinc & Chemical Co. and then the National Zinc. Co., operated off Peoria Road … Continue reading

Posted in Business, Coal mines and mining, Ethnic groups, Industry, Prominent figures, Spanish | 2 Comments