Illinois' first prison housed not only criminals but victims of John Crenshaw
such as Charles and Nelson Adams. Conditions were so bad, later reform
efforts closed the prison. The government reopened the site during the Civil
War to house Confederate prisoners of war. A mystery tombstone is the focus of "The Grave of Private Collins" by John J. Dunphy, who also wrote about a nearby island in the Missisippi remembered
as Smallpox Island for serving as a quarantined area for smallpox victims.
Cairo sits at the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers and
played a key role during the Civil War. Recently, city crews have uncovered
built prior to the Civil War for the railroad. These are believed
to have been used by the Underground Railroad and later to house federal
prisoners during the war. Here is a picture of Cairo's
river front from the late 1850s. Another view is one of
Commercial Street looking north with a view of the street cars from the early 1920s. An
earlier view of Commercial Street looking the opposite direction makes a reference to a 1909
lynching. Here are two maps of
Cairo, the first is a perspective map, the second is an
aerial map. A more recent postcard view is that of the
$3.1 million highway bridge over the Ohio River.
Named for the most impressive of sights along the Ohio River, the community of Cave-in-Rock
has a most colorful history. In the late 18th and 19th centuries, the adjoining landmark served
as a nexus for criminal activities ranging from river piracy and counterfeiting to kidnapping and murder.
Springhouse Magazine published a two-part article by Mildred McCormick on this left-wing college that operated in the Shawnee Hills during the Great Depression located in northwestern Hardin County near the intersection of Route 34 and Karbers Ridge Road. Here's the second part.
Also known as Hell's Half Acre for its wild bar life around the Civil War era this community on the North Fork of the Saline River in Gallatin County finally quieted down. Great pictures of the old covered bridge that once spanned the river. Also includes an accounty of the ghost story associated with the bridge.
Jim Jung describes the evidence in favor of a Mississippian-era solar observatory on the west side of Fountain Bluff in southwestern Jackson County. Jung is one of the editors of the Waterman and Hill Traveler's Companion nature almanacs for Southern Illinois.
The Iles House is the oldest residential structure in Springfield, Illinois. It has been moved and now houses the Museum of Springfield History. Will Howarth publishes a blog with updates about the house and the museum activities.
This website maintains an archive of local history articles of McLeansboro, Illinois,
the seat of government for Hamilton County. Of particular interest is information on the 1968 Earthquake and 19th Century McLeansboro
The Old Slave House is the only documented "reverse" Underground Railroad station still in existance.
It was originally built in 1834 as part of John Crenshaw's Hickory Hill Plantation.
It is located between Equality and Junction, Illinois. Crenshaw was a slaveholder of indentured servants.
He also kidnapped free blacks and sold them into slavery.
The saltworks centered around Equality drew both the early Indians and
the first pioneers to the area. The
Great Salt Spring there has long drawn archeaologists and anthropologists to the site. The
second link is a summary of the latest research at the site. Here is a picture of the salt well at
the Lower Lick in 1998.
Although located in the Franklin County community of Mulkeytown, the story
of Priscilla and the Silkwood Inn remains one of the best remembered tales
about the Cherokee Trail of Tears which passed through the region from
Golconda through Jonesboro.
This frontier fort served a second sinister purpose following the War of 1812. The Sturdivant
gang of counterfeitors took it over and used it as a base in the early 1820s. The law made three
major raids against the fort in 1822 and 1823.