Category Archives: Prehistory

Millie, the Illinois State Museum Mastodon

“Millie,” the Illinois State Museum’s mastodon skeleton, arrived in Springfield in pieces starting in fall 1974. Like those of many mastodon skeletons on display around the world, Millie’s bones actually are fiberglass composites. The original bones came mostly from a … Continue reading

Posted in Animals, Museums, Prehistory, Science, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

‘Fossil Boulder,’ Auburn Township Park

Fossil Boulder is the most notable feature of Auburn Township Park southeast of Auburn. The boulder was unearthed in the mid-1980s in Auburn itself, according to a sign at the park. Information on the sign was researched by Marilyn “’lyn” … Continue reading

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The Sangamon River

In 1831, a new Illinois county was formed from parts of Madison and Bond counties. The new county was named for the river that bisected it: the Sangamon. The headwater of the Sangamon River is a small stream emerging from … Continue reading

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‘Wigwam tree’ and sulfur spring, Loami

Note: This entry has been edited to reflect additional information about the first burial at Sulphur Spring Cemetery. The “wigwam tree” was a hollow sycamore near Loami that, according to John Carroll Power in History of the Early Settlers of … Continue reading

Posted in Communities, Early residents, Native Americans, Prehistory | 7 Comments

Birds of Sangamon County

A 40-year study by Illinois State Museum ornithologist H. David Bohlen found 359 different species of birds in Sangamon County. However, Bohlen warns in his report, published online by the museum in 2013, that increasing human population has badly reduced … Continue reading

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The Payne Stone Age Collection

Edward W. Payne (1857-1932), a Springfield banker and property investor, amassed a huge collection of stone relics — most, though not all, from pre-Columbian America — with the intention of building a museum to house them. At his death, however, … Continue reading

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William and Margaret Carpenter

This entry has been edited to correct the death date of Margaret Carpenter and to correct the size of Carpenter Park. Carpenter Park and Carpenter Street are among legacies of the family of William (1787-1859) and Margaret Carpenter (1803-83), who … Continue reading

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Groves of mature hardwood trees figured frequently in the history of Sangamon County. Robert Pulliam, considered the first European inhabitant of  the county, set up his first encampment in a grove of sugar maples on what became known as Sugar … Continue reading

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The Kickapoo

When Europeans began moving into Central Illinois in the early 1800s, the Kickapoo were the dominant Native American tribe, holding sway from north of present-day Peoria to near St. Louis and east to west across Illinois. “I am a Kickapoo,” … Continue reading

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Lincoln Memorial Garden and Nature Center

Envisioned by Harriet Knudson in 1936, Lincoln Memorial Garden was created as a living memorial to Abraham Lincoln, representing “the landscape … Lincoln would have known growing up and living in the Midwest.” The 100-acre garden on the banks of … Continue reading

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