By Bruce Cline, director of the Little Egypt Ghost Society
“Uncle Bob” Wilson was one of the slaves known to have lived at the Hickory Hill Plantation, now known as the Old Slave House outside Equality, IL owned by John Crenshaw. Crenshaw was infamous for his “Reverse Underground Railroad”. He would kidnap free negroes and sell them across the river in Kentucky as slaves.
The supply of kidnapped slaves was not enough to supply slave trade, so Crenshaw used the services of “Uncle Bob” as a stud on his plantation. Whenever Crenshaw had young female negores, he would have them chained to Uncle Bob’s bed for breeding purposes. This slave factory produced hundreds of children to be sold as slaves.
During the Civil War, Uncle Bob Wilson joined the Confederate Army and proudly served with the 16th Virginia Infantry as an orderly to a Confederate Officer. After the war he became a Baptist minister. In the 1920s he moved back to Gallatin County. Sometime after the 1937 flood that nearly destroyed Shawneetown, he moved to Chicago. In 1942 he was moved to the Elgin State Hospital and was the oldest resident at the veteran’s home there. Uncle Bob Wilson lived to be 112 years old and said that the secret to his long life was, “I never drank, chewed or stayed out late until I was 11 years old”.
The Old Slave House located in Equality is owned by the State of Illinois and is closed to the public. Anyone caught trespassing there will be arrested and fined $500. Ghosts of slaves supposedly haunt the house, particularly the attic.
Bruce Cline is the Director of the Little Egypt Ghost Society based in Carbondale, IL. He is a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army as a Corps of Engineers Officer. He is a former municipal, county and state law enforcement officer. Bruce lives in Carbondale, IL with his wife, Lisa and several cats and dogs.
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