George W. Sisney and the Bloody Vendetta

History, Mystery, and Hauntings of Southern IllinoisFrom History, Mystery, and Hauntings of Southern Illinois by Bruce Cline.

Those of you familiar with the “Bloody Vendetta” of the late 1800’s in southern Illinois will be interested in my latest discovery. I have located the grave of one of the principal characters, Capt. George W. Sisney. He was a captain in the 81st Illinois Volunteer Infantry, Co. G during the Civil War and elected Sheriff in 1866.

The “Bloody Vendetta” started in 1862 in a disagreement between John Sisney and Marshall Crain. In 1869 there was a fight between Samuel Brethers, George W. Sisney and David Bulliner over a bunch of oats. In 1872 there was further trouble when Thomas Russell and John Bullinger started dating the same woman, Sarah Stocks. On Christmas Day in 1872 there was a riot in Carterville that involved the Sisneys and Crains. On March 27, 1874, George and David Bullinger are killed in a shooting at church. On May 15, 1874, the Bullingers are involved in killing James Henderson. On July 28, 1875, George W. Sisney is shot and killed in his home by Marshall Crain.

George W. Sisney’s home was located on the northeast corner of the square in Carbondale. The house extended eastward and faced south. On the night of July 28, 1875, George W. Sisney was sitting near a window on the south side of the house playing dominoes with one of his friends. An assassin was lurking on the porch in his sock feet and shot through the window. Sisney was struck by the shot under his left nipple leaving a hole about 2 inches in diameter. As he was shot, Sisney cried out “Oh, Lord, I am shot! Lord, have mercy on me!” Sisney remained seated upright in his chair for one and a half hours after he was shot dead. He was buried with full Masonic honors.

My wife and I located Capt. George W. Sisney’s grave in a small unnamed cemetery on the south side of Old Route 13 about .2 miles from Division Street in the Crab Orchard Refuge. While walking through the cemetery just south of Sisney’s grave, we both smelled an extremely strong scent of lilacs and hyacinths. We looked everywhere, but could not find any flowers in the entire graveyard. The cemetery is extremely quiet and peaceful. We will be returning soon to conduct some EVP experiments and to take EMF and other readings. George W. Sisney was a captain in the Civil War and a Mason; perhaps I can give his spirit a direct order to respond to our experiments since I am a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve and a 32nd degree Mason.

Copyright Bruce L. Cline, 2014. You do not have permission to copy this post.



  1. Bruce, shortly after your discovery, I visited the site, and was able to find Sisney’s grave thanks to your directions. The cemetery is wooded and overgrown, and I visited only a few hours after a sudden rainstorm, so it was a very wet experience.

    I also found Vincent Hinchcliff, a doctor who was caught up in the vendetta and killed after he treated one of the participants:


  2. Bruce Cline, Director of the LITTLE EGYPT GHOST SOCIETY says:


    I glad you located the site. I had no idea that Vincent Hinchcliff was buried there as well. This merits a return trip in the near future.


  3. Bruce Cline says:

    Be sure to look for this story and more in the new book by the LITTLE EGYPT GHOST SOCIETY, “HISTORY, MYSTERY and HAUNTINGS of SOUTHERN ILLINOIS”. The book is published by Black Oak Media and will be available soon.


    • Jazmine says:

      Does this book include anything about the Watseka Wonder, a famous possession case in Watseka, Illinois? I am considering both the Bloody Vendetta and the Watseka Wonder for a huge history fair project. It would be great if you could reply to this! Thanks.


  4. Bruce Cline says:


    Our book only has stories from southern Illinois in it. We are currently working on our second book which will have stories from the entire state of Illinois as well as some from KY, MO, TN, PA, LA.


  5. Ashley Smith says:

    My maiden name is Sisney. Im interseted to hear any information you might have on the descendants of George W. Sisney!


    • Bruce Cline says:


      The best source for info on George SIsney is The History of Williamson County, Illinois. From the Earliest Times, Down to the Present, With an Accurate Account of the Secession Movement, Ordinances, Raids, Etc., Also, a Complete History of Its ‘Bloody Vendetta’, Including All Its Recondite Causes. The book was written by Milo Erwin and is available at the Williamson County Historical Society,, The Book Emporium in Harrisburg and the Bookworm in Carbondale.

      Warm regards,



  6. Tracy Sisney says:

    Captain Sisney is my great, great, great Grandfather. I really hope that no one disturbs his grave. He deserves that much.


  7. Chris says:

    Marshall Crain is my 4th Great-Uncle.


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