Springfield Illinois 1906. The hometown of The Great Emancipator, Abraham Lincoln, seethes with racial hatred and Negroes are limited to homes in the impoverished Badlands or to businesses on the vice-ridden Levee. A young Negro woman, Sheba Tully, ventures into this simmering caldron of tensions in search of a better life. After landing a coveted position as a maid for Susan Lawrence Dana, one of the wealthiest and most notorious women in town, she meets Elliott Loper, an attractive white reporter for the Springfield Record. Elliott's goal: to become a respected journalist at any cost. As Sheba and Elliott pursue their dreams, the pair encounter obstacles and romance, with explosive consequences.Culminating with the city's 1908 race riot, Water and Fire vividly recreates life in Springfield at the turn of the century, populated with people of the time including poet Vachel Lindsay, Illinois Governor Charles Deneen, Eva Carroll Monroe, and Frank Lloyd Wright.