Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant began his Civil War career as the head of a troop of militia that marched from Springfield on July 3, 1861.
This traditional boundary between North and South passes less than five miles south of the Old State Capitol.
Springfield's most eccentric citizen retained Frank Lloyd Wright to build her home at a cost of $60,000 in 1904. While inventorying her estate, appraisers found safety deposit boxes all over the country containing feathers from her favorite parrot.
The peculiar spelling of chilli in Springfield originated with the founder of the Dew Chilli Parlor in 1909. His sign in the parlor was misspelled! Other folks believe the spelling matches the first four letters in Illinois. Joe DeFrates, of Springfield, has won the world championship Chilli Cook-off twice. He claims Springfieldians eat more chilli per person than any other community.
Colonel Elmer Ellsworth
Colonel Elmer Ellsworth, from Springfield, was the first casualty of the Civil War.
Imagine a building, the outside of which consists of 3,300 stones, weighing from 500-2,000 pounds each. Now imagine taking that building apart, numbering all of those stones, moving them to a safe storage place, reconstructing the inside of a magnificent, historically significant building. Then imagine putting all of those stones back in their original places, like a giant upright puzzle. Well, that's what architects did to restore the beautiful Old State Capitol to its original splendor.
A House Divided
"A house divided against itself cannot stand."
I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved. I do not expect the house to fall – but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall become alike lawful in all the states, old as well as new – North as well as South.
(From speech accepting nomination to oppose Senator Stephen A. Douglas who won re-election, June 16, 1858.)
The marble inside the tomb comes from four foreign countries: France, Italy, Belgium, Spain, and from the states of Missouri, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Utah and Arkansas. The granite of the exterior of the tomb is from Quincy, Massachusetts.
Lincoln – The Arbitrator
Since Lincoln began studying law while living in New Salem, he was often asked to settle arguments. Two men discussing how long a man's legs should be in proportion to the size of his body turned to Lincoln for judgment. He said, "After much thought and consideration, not to mention mental worry and anxiety, it is my opinion, all side issues being swept aside, that a man's lower limbs, in order to preserve harmony of proportion, should be at least long enough to reach from his body to the ground."
How Lincoln Found New Salem
Lincoln's decision to live in New Salem came about as a result of piloting a flatboat down the Sangamon River. The heavily laden boat became stranded on the mill dam at New Salem. Lincoln was responsible for freeing the vessel by ordering it unloaded, drilling a hole in the bow to let out the water and then plugging the hole which permitted the boat to float free. He was so impressed with New Salem during his brief stay, he decided to come back to live. So after delivering the produce to New Orleans, Lincoln took a boat to St. Louis and then walked back to New Salem.
The Governor's Home
The idea of providing a home in Springfield for Illinois governors was originally Abraham Lincoln's. Although his bill appropriating $8,000 to construct such a dwelling was defeated in 1840, the idea eventually took root and in 1853, a bill was introduced appropriating $15,000 for the construction of the current mansion. The final cost exceeded that amount and the total cost eventually was $45,794.31. The first Governor to enjoy this luxurious setting was Joel Aldrich Matteston.
Frank Lloyd Wright, architect of the Dana-Thomas House, was originally commissioned to restructure Susan Lawrence Dana's thirty year old brick house. Early photos of the remodeling show the foundation of the prairie-style house rising around the family home. However, as the work progressed, this new architectural style took over. When the home was completed in 1904, the only remaining sign of the family home was a Victorian sitting room with fireplace, which exists in the home today.
How Springfield Became The Capital
The original capital of Illinois was Kaskaskia. In 1820, it was moved to Vandalia, but thanks to the political efforts of a group called "The Long Nine," Springfield finally captured the prize. Lead by Abraham Lincoln, the group was called "The Long Nine" because the nine delegates to the legislature from Sangamon County who fought for Springfield were all over 6' in height.
Lincoln's Totem Pole
Picture a 50-foot totem pole topped by an eight-foot carved statue of Abraham Lincoln. If you can't picture this incredible artifact, come to Springfield and see for yourself. Called the Proud Raven pole after the people who carved it, this giant edifice guards the entrance to the Illinois State Museum. It was carved around 1883 by a chief of the Raven clan in Alaska, to honor the fact that a member of his family was the first to see a white man. As model for the white man, the carver used an available picture of President Lincoln. When representatives of the museum went to Alaska to purchase the pole, the price included some rare luxuries; a case of Coca-Cola and a case of oranges.