Washington Street in the 1800s

Come learn a bit about the history of downtown Springfield’s Washington Street! Attorney Richard Hart, well-known for his love of history, has focused on researching Springfield and its residents, particularly about the times of Lincoln. He will present a special free program, with images, of Washington Street in Springfield.

The host business, Books on the Square, is located there in close proximity to the Old State Capitol Square. The building it occupies was completed in 1854 and served as City Hall for Springfield for a few years. Being near the Capitol was regarded as the commerce area for growth of the city. In the early years, Washington Street was also known as Chicken Row, with livestock wandering free throughout the area. Hart will illustrate many of the businesses and where they were located, though most of the original structures have long vanished.

Free Evening with Authors Pensoneau and Guillory

Two prominent, local authors will read from their newest books followed by a question and answer period.  Those interested in becoming a writer themselves are especially invited to come to this free program along with anyone interested in the authors and topics.

Taylor Pensoneau of New Berlin has self-published Falling Star, a fiction sequel to his first novel, The Summer of ’50, about political corruption, illegal gambling and murder. In the first work, the unraveling of it all fell to a crack investigative newspaper reporter. In Falling Star,the reporter finds some of the same characters still in play as he tracks a fading Hollywood actress with secrets threatening to cripple the campaign for President by an Illinois governor.

Pensoneau’s fiction reflects on his youth in southern Illinois, his knowledge of the coal industry and his life as a reporter and Illinois Statehouse bureau chief for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Previously Pensoneau has primarily been known for his best-selling biographical works on Prohibition gangsters and political leaders. He will talk about writing non-fiction and fiction.

Dan Guillory, from Shelby County, has written ten books. He is a professor emeritus at Millikin University in Decatur. At this event, he will read poems from his latest book, The Prairie: Then and Now, which also features illustrations by his wife, Leslie Guillory. The poems focus on new residents and visitors who first experienced a raw prairie, full of grasses and wildflowers, as well as contemporary activities in the prairie ranging from a neighbor who leaves gifts from his garden to a poem about the harvest moon. In his introduction to this book, the author discusses inspiration, the slow but steady “arrival” of his poems, and collaborating with a publisher. He will explain his use of both prose and poetry in this new book. Well-known for his readings, Dan Guillory has offered poetry readings at more than 200 locations in Illinois.

Thea Chesley, president of the Springfield Poets and Writers group, has been active herself as a writer and poet for many years. She will moderate the Q&A session following the readings.

A Reporter Interviews General Grant

“A Reporter Interviews General Grant” by Judy Wagenblast and Larry Werline


Writer Judy Wagenblast and Larry Werline interact in “A Reporter Interviews General Grant”

Lincoln, Gettysburg, and Smallpox

“Lincoln, Gettysburg, and Smallpox” presented by Dr. Donald Graham, MD

It’s little known fact that President Lincoln was in the first stages of smallpox when he delivered the Gettysburg Address. Learn more from Dr. Graham as he delves deeper into the illness facing Lincoln as he gave one of his most famous speeches.

A Civil War Drive Through Oak Ridge Cemetery

A Civil War Drive Through Oak Ridge Cemetery: A Private, A Daughter, and A Colonel

The Summer Civil War Series will begin with a Civil War Cemetery Drive on Thursday, June 13. The event will start at 5:15 pm at Oak Ridge Cemetery. At each of the three grave sites, a program of music and a talk about the individual will be presented:

  • Governor John Tanner, a private in the Civil War, discussed by John Alexander and Chuck Murphy with music from the Old Capitol Choral Singers
  • Nellie Grant Jones, the daughter of General U.S. Grant with Larry Werline portraying General U.S. Grant and Jeannie Alexander telling the story of his daughter. Civil War aires will be played on violin by Rachel Helton
  • Colonel Samuel Shoup, the last Civil War-time commander of the 114th Illinois Volunteer Infantry will be chronicled by Richard Shatchsiek, current Colonel of the 114th Reactivated. The musicians of the 114th Reactivated will begin a variety of tunes,
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