Old Slave House - Equality, Illinois
Posted by: BruceS
N 37° 43.687 W 088° 17.166
16S E 386665 N 4176428
Quick Description: N 37° 43.687 W 088° 17.166
16S E 386665 N 4176428
Quick Description: The Crenshaw House (also known as the Crenshaw Mansion, Hickory Hill or, most commonly, The Old Slave House) is a historic former residence located in Gallatin County, Illinois.
Location: Illinois, United States
Date Posted: 5/25/2009 9:29:47 AM
Waymark Code: WM6F88
The OLD SLAVE HOUSE, 18.7 m., topping a hill (R), sits back from the highway almost obscured by trees. The Southern Colonial house was built in 1834 by John Cranshaw, an Englishman, and has a sinister air heightened by its lonely site. local opinion is divided as to the building's original use. Some believe that it was a station on the Underground Railroad; others that it was a prison for captured runaway slaves who were resold in the South. Available evidence favors the later belief; Cranshaw it is said, gave elaborate parties on the lower floors with profits he gained from the terrified slaves he kept imprisoned in the upper part of the building. The first floor has spacious reception and drawing rooms; the second floor has five large bedrooms. But under the eaves on the third floor are tiny cells, each less than the height of a man, equipped with two narrow wooden bunks. Chain anchors are embedded in the floors of these cells, and the door frames appear to have been cross[hatched with bars. A strange contraption of timbers of this floor, according to the present residents, was a torture instrument. - Illinois, a Descriptive and Historical Guide, 1939 , Tour 3a, pg. 437.
The Old Slave House is now owned by the State of Illinois however it is not open to the public. The house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The house is also listed the National Park Services program "National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom" as the last standing station on the Reverse U.G.R.R.. From the application for that listing:
"The Old Slave House outside Equality, Illinois, is the last standing station on the Reverse U.G.R.R. Started by salt maker John Hart Crenshaw in 1838, the home's third floor attic contains 12 rooms long believed to be where Crenshaw operated a secret slave jail for kidnapped free black and captured runaway slaves. A grand jury indicted Crenshaw for kidnapping, once in the mid 1820s (the outcome unknown) and again in 1842 when a trial jury acquitted him. The case's victims, Maria Adams and her seven or eight children, ended up as slaves in Texas. In 1828, Crenshaw took Frank Granger and 15 others downriver to Tipton Co., Tennessee, and sold them as slaves. Crenshaw also kidnapped Lucinda and her children in 1828. She ended up in Barren Co., Kentucky. Contemporary letters identify Crenshaw's role back both cases. Crenshaw also kidnapped Peter White and three others in the 1840s. They were sold into slavery in Arkansas, but later rescued. Stories of strange noises upstairs coming from victims, date to 1851. Despite accounts that the rooms were slave quarters, Crenshaw family stories indicate a distinction between the plantation's household servants and field hands, and the victim's of Crenshaw's criminal activities."- UNDERGROUND RAILROAD NETWORK TO FREEDOM Application Form
Note: The site even though owned by the State of Illinois is CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC, TRESPASSERS WILL BE PROSECUTED. The coordinates listed are the closest you can get to the house without violating the law, don't take your chances, the trespass laws are vigorously enforced at this site.