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Crenshaw's Slaves & Victims

More than 200 victims of kidnappings or attempted kidnappings have been identified in southeastern Illinois during the period prior to the Civil War. Of that number at least 61 have been connected to John Hart Crenshaw in some form or fashion.

The information below is from Jon Musgrave. 2005. Slaves, Salt, Sex & Mr. Crenshaw. Marion, Ill.: IllinoisHistory.com. Appendix A. Used by permission.

  • Mid 1820s – Unknown Victim(s) – number unknown. Gallatin County Grand Jury indicted John Crenshaw, John Forresterand Preston Sweaton charges of kidnapping. The number of or identity of the victims remains unknown.

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  • 1827 – Frank Granger, Seamore, Lucyand her children Abrahamand Milly, Sally and her children Lewis and Sylvia, Celia and her two children, Alfred, Jacob, Sally’s son Joshua, John or Toby, Emily – 16 victims. Crenshaw took Frank and at least 15 others to Tipton Co., Tennessee, where he sold them. Because their beginning status has not been determined, it’s unknown if this is a kidnapping or just an example of slave trading.

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  • 1828 – Lucindaand her two children – 3 victims. Crenshaw took Lucinda and her children to Barren Co., Kentucky. Definite kidnapping based on an 1843 letter written on her behalf.

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  • 1829/1830 – Ben– 1 victim. Drowned in the Ohio River during a ferry sinking. Crenshaw went to court in Union Co., Kentucky, with a claim for his losses. Don’t know if this is a kidnapping or an example of an illegal use of slave labor at the salines.

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  • Winter of 1841/1842 – Maria Adamsand seven or eight of her children – 8 or 9 victims. Kidnapped by Crenshaw, held for a few days,then sold to Lewis Kuykendalland his son John G. Kuykendall, slave traders, who picked them up in the middle of the night. All three were indicted but only Crenshaw was tried. A jury acquitted him. The other two left. A rescue attempt was planned in late 1846. Whether it was successful has never been learned.

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  • 1842 to 1843 – Charles Adams, Nelson Adamsand Nelson “Fox” Perry– 3 victims. Sent to prison by Crenshaw for “assault with intent to murder” after the two Nelsons stopped him on the road at gunpoint demanding to know the location of their family members kidnapped. Charles was the husband of Maria Adams. Nelson was their son. The other Nelson was a mulatto apprentice who had just been released from his time with Crenshaw. Spent three years at the Alton Penitentiary before the Gov. Thomas Ford pardoned them in 1846.

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  • 1844 or 1847 – Peter Whiteand three other children – 4 victims. Kidnapped from Equality and taken to Arkansas where sold for $800. Rescued by Walter White, a nephew of Gen. Leonard White. Peter interviewed about the case in 1903 by Prof. George W. Smith. White family claimed Peter had been held upstairs in the Old Slave House.

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  • 1846 – Emancipated Prather SlavesLucyand her children Cuba, Malinda, Noah, Polly, Patsy, Lizza, Harriet, Docia, and Lucinda; Rebeccaand her children Betsy, Anna, Hercules, Martha, Elias, Zechariah, Becca; Jack (or John) and his child Elsy Ann; Jessee; Johnson and Spencer – at least 23 victims plus any children born to the females since 1828. Newton E. Wright, a kidnapper from Wolf Island, Kentucky, filed a claim for these slaves in federal court claiming that they had been falsely emancipated nearly 20 years earlier. Crenshaw testified in this case in Springfield.

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  • 1856 – 1859 – Robert “Uncle Bob” Wilson – Slave in his young 20s who claimed to have been used as a stud on seven different plantations, the last of which took place at Hickory Hill. Wilson claimed to have been born in 1836 in Virginia. Crenshaw traveled to Washington D.C., in 1856, his only known trip to the Virginia area. Wilson later claimed he had witnessed the hanging of John Brown in Charles Town, Virginia, in 1859, giving what is likely the widest range of his possible time in Illinois.

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