Category Archives: Prominent figures

George Brinkerhoff mystery, 1893

George M. Brinkerhoff Sr. and his daughter Bessie climbed aboard an Illinois Central Railroad sleeper the evening of July 28, 1893, on their way home from the World’s Fair in Chicago. When the train arrived in Springfield the next morning, … Continue reading

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Buster Bartholomew, coach & educator

As an athlete, Buster Bartholomew was a one-armed wonder. But he made his mark as a coach, teacher and booster of country schools. Homer “Buster” Bartholomew (1891-1943), born in Tuscola, was the son of Charles and Susan Myrtle Bartholomew. His … Continue reading

Posted in Education, Prominent figures, Schools and school districts, Sports and recreation | 1 Comment

Edmund D. Taylor, (not the) ‘father of the greenback’

Edmund “Dick” Taylor was a legislator, businessman and investor. He was one of the winners in the only direct election Abraham Lincoln ever lost. And he probably wasn’t “the father of the greenback.” Taylor (1804-91) lived in Springfield in the … 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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Frank Simmons Books, Stationery and Art

The Frank Simmons stationery store commemorated the 100th anniversary of George Washington’s inauguration as president with a unique and potentially lucrative certificate: If someone paid $100 on the anniversary date, April 30, 1889, the certificate said, the store would repay … Continue reading

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The Hammerslough/Rosenwald family, clothiers

The Capitol Clothing House opened in Springfield in 1856 with the slogan “Low Prices and Good Goods.” Aside from providing inexpensive, ready-to-wear clothes to pre-Civil War Springfield, the Capitol Clothing House is the reason Springfield can boast that it was … Continue reading

Posted in Business, Historic Sites, Jewish, Lincoln Home, Lincoln Tomb, Lincoln, Abraham, Prominent figures | 1 Comment

Christmas at the Wonder Store, 1881

Frank Myers was no relation to Springfield’s later department store dynasty, the Myers Brothers, but he apparently had some of the same merchandising instincts – down to the monkeys both used as advertising gimmicks. From the 1870s to 1904, Myers’ … Continue reading

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First talking movie

Harry T. Loper (1860-1948), historically linked to Springfield’s race riot of 1908, also introduced talking movies to Springfield. Loper went into the restaurant business when he moved to Springfield from Greenfield in 1883, and Loper’s Restaurant at 223 S. Fifth … Continue reading

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First Rochester schools

The 1881 History of Sangamon County, Illinois, Together with Sketches of Its Cities, Villages and Townships includes two short accounts of the earliest schoolhouses and teachers near Rochester. As described, the schools were rough and improvised, and one burned down in … Continue reading

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Thorne Deuel, museum director

Thorne Deuel, director of the Illinois State Museum for nearly 25 years, literally made it the institution it is today. Deuel (1890-1984) was a research associate at the University of Chicago, specializing in anthropology and archaeology related to Native Americans … Continue reading

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