History comes out of hiding atop Hickory Hill
1 Three researchers worked on this project. They are Jon Musgrave of Marion, a journalist with the Daily Register in Harrisburg; Ron Nelson of McLeansboro, a church historian and author of the recently published History of Liberty Baptist Church; and Gary DeNeal of Rudement, publisher of Springhouse Magazine and author of A Knight of Another Sort, a history of the 1920s gangster, Charlie Birger.
2 Alexander Davidson, A Complete History of Illinois from 1673 to 1873 (Springfield, 1876) 230.
3 John Lockhart letter to Henry Eddy, 4 May 1830, Eddy Manuscript Collection, Illinois Historical Survey, (typed copy); Illinois State Historical Library (originals).
4 Lucy Bender "A Brief History of Shawneetown, Gallatin County" typed manuscript, Illinois State Historical Library, 1915, 13. Bender actually described the house as "[t]he old slave and underground railway house." However she added this cautionary note, "[m]any tales are told of the prisoners held there and dark doings of long ago."
5 Betty Head, phone interview, 29 Nov. 1996. She identified the house Bender described and recalled the iron bars in the basement and iron rings in the walls.
6 Jarrot vs. Jarrot, 1845. The 1848 Constitution of Illinois finally made slavery illegal.
7 1818 Constitution of Illinois Article 3, Sections 1-3.
8 Davis vs. Crenshaw, civil case filed in Gallatin County Circuit Court Oct. 27, 1829. "Gallatin County Circuit Court Case Files", Illinois Regional Archives Depository, Carbondale.
9 Samuel D. Marshall, "Negrophobia," editorial, Illinois Republican 9 April 1842, 3.
10 George Flower, History of the English Settlement in Edwards County, Illinois (1882; Chicago: University Microfilm, 1968) 141.
11 George Washington Smith, History of Southern Illinois (1912; Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company) 138.
12 Davidson 320.
13 Smith 156.
14 Richard M. Phillips, "This is the house that salt built" Iliniwek May-June 1972, 20.
15 Davis vs. Crenshaw. Gallatin County Circuit Court Records, Illinois Regional Archives Depository - Carbondale.
16 N. Dwight Harris, The History of Negro Servitude in Illinois and of the Slavery Agitation in that State 1719 to 1864 (Chicago: A. C. McClurg & Co. 1904) 55. In an ironic twist, the Illinois Spectator went through numerous name changes and moves to Vandalia and later Springfield. Within Crenshaw's lifetime, the newspaper would be owned by his son-in-law Charles Lanphier.
17 J. H. C. Ellis to Shawneetown Postmaster, Dec. 26, 1843, Eddy Manuscript Collection, Illinois Historical Survey, University of Illinois, Champaign (typed copy), Illinois State Historical Library (originals). Since the article was first published we have found other clues indicating that John Crenshaw was also known as John Granger up through at least the 1820s
18 Davis vs. Crenshaw. (Harrisburg: Saline County Genealogical Society, 1994) 20-21.
19 Rebecca Schmook, Gallatin County, Illinois Slave Register 1815 - 1839 (Harrisburg: Saline County Genealogical Society, 1994) 20-21.
20 Phillips 23.
21 Flower 265-266.
22 Phillips 21.
23 History of Gallatin, Saline, Hamilton, Franklin and Williamson Counties, Illinois (1887; Chicago: Unigraphic, 1967) 33-34.
24 Schmook 66.
25 Phillips 22.
26 Thomas Ford, A History of Illinois, from its commencement as a state in 1818 to 1847 (1854; Chicago: University Microfilms, 1968) 437.
27 W. D. Snively, Satan's Ferryman: A true tale of the old frontier (1968, U.S.A.: Frederick Ungar Publishing Co.) 91.
28 Nathaniel Simpson letter to Henry Eddy, 12 Jan. 1832, Illinois Historical Survey (typed copy), Illinois State Historical Library (original). This letter written by Simpson is an attempt to press charges of assault and battery against a "Mr. Potts" who attacked him on Ford's Ferry Road. The attack on the highway and the description of Potts as an tavern keeper on Ford's Ferry Road fits the legend of "Billy Potts." The description of Potts as a justice of the peace and the location of his home on the road fits the description of the historical Isaiah L. Potts. Both the legendary Billy Potts and the real Isaiah Potts were tied to James Ford.
29 James A. Rose, "The Regulators and Flatheads in Southern Illinois," Transactions of the Illinois State Historical Library (1906, Springfield: Illinois State Journal Company) 111.
30 Mrs. W. F. Brann to A. J. Sisk, 6 July 1942, in possession of George Sisk, 2.
31 "Gallatin Salines," open letter, Illinois Republican 6 March 1842, 2.
32 Ninian Edwards to A. G. S. Wight, 19 Aug. 1825, The Edwards Papers (Chicago, 1884) 243-245.
33 Schmook 62.
34 Helen Cox Tregillis, River Road to Freedom (1988; Bowie, Maryland: Heritage Books, Inc.) 106-107.
35 Schmook 61-62.
36 John Metzger, "The Gallatin County Saline and Slavery in Illinois" thesis, Southern Illinois U, 1971, 87.
37 Benjamin J. Edwards and Ninian W. Edwards to Gov. Thomas Ford, "Charles Adams and others pardon," Executive Section, Executive Clemency Files, Illinois State Archives.
38 Edwards to Wight, 19 Aug. 1825.
39 Ninian Edwards to A. G. S. Wight, 23 June 1829, Eddy Manuscript Collection, Illinois Historical Survey (typed copy), Illinois State Historical Library (original).
40 Edwards to Wight, 19 Aug. 1825.
41 Henry Eddy letter to Gov. Thomas Ford, 8 Dec. 1846, "Charles Adams and others pardon" Executive Section, Executive Clemency Files, Illinois State Archives.
42 Metzger 87.
43 Phillips 23.
44 Eddy to Ford.
45 This Fox is likely the nickname for 23-year-old Nelson Perry, a mulatto apprenticed to John Crenshaw at age 10 on July 23, 1829. He filed his freedom papers on Jan. 11, 1842. Gallatin County Court Records. Loose ledger pages from Crenshaw's store in Cypressville show Perry was conducting business at the store in May 1840.
46 Phillips 23.
47 Eddy to Ford.
48 Henry Eddy, A. G. S. Wight, and George Leviston letter to Gov. Thomas Ford, 8 Dec. 1846, "Charles Adams and others pardon" Executive Section, Executive Clemency Files, Illinois State Archives.
49 Eddy letter to Ford.
50 1850 Census of Gallatin County
51 Smith 473.
52 The 1850 Gallatin County Census shows a Leonard White, 21, as a mulatto. The 1850 Saline County Census shows a Nancy White, 17, and a Winthrop White, 19, both listed as mulatto.
53 Smith spent four days in Gallatin County, from Dec. 18-21, 1903, researching the old salt works. He wrote an article on it which later appeared in four publications. Amazingly, Smith never mentions John Crenshaw in his works. Crenshaw isn't mentioned in his four books or three published articles on Southern Illinois. Could it be that he knew Crenshaw's true story and never wrote it because it reflected poorly on Southern Illinois? As a historian Smith looked for the good to emulate and honor; never the bad. Thanks to Smith we know much that would have been forgotten, but how much did he leave out that we now need to know?
54 George Sisk, phone interview, 23 Nov. 1996, 30 Nov. 1996.
55 Henry Eddy "Agreement of facts about the Prather Negroes" (n.d.) Eddy Manuscript Collection, Illinois Historical Survey, University of Illinois, Champaign (typed copy), Illinois State Historical Library (originals).
56 Schmook 19-21.
57 Davidson 230.
58 Henry Eddy, "Prather Negroes".
59 Davidson 230.
60 Zadock Cramer, The Navigator (1814; Pittsburg: McDowell Publications, 1979) 176.
61 Ada Crenshaw to Margaret Lanphier, 12 July 1846, Charles Lanphier Manuscript Collection, Illinois State Historical Library. The name may be "Lands" rather than "Sands." It is extremely difficult to make out. Ada was sick when she wrote the letter.
62 History of Gallatin 43, 58.
63 Shirley Cummins Shewmake, Gallatin County, Illinois Newspapers Abstracts Vol. IV, (1996, Eldorado: Rocky's Advanced Printing) 159.
64 History of Gallatin 56.
65 Milo Erwin, The History of Williamson County (1876; St. Louis: Williamson County Historical Society, 1984) 53. The victim likely lived in the Ellis Community, which is now New Dennison.
66 Darrel Dexter, A House Divided: Union County, Illinois 1818-1865 (1994; Anna: Reppert Publications) 56-57.
The above story was published in the December 1996 issue of Springhouse Magazine.
©1996 Jon Musgrave
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