During the early 1800s, Dr. John H. Purefoy was adding a new well in the backyard of his property. While working on it, the wooden rigging collapsed, burying a worker under tons of sandy soil. Rescuers could hear the man screaming out for help, but unfortunately, they were unable to save him. The body was never recovered from the accident.
John Hart Crenshaw was an entrepreneur in the salt mining industry during the early 1800s in southern Illinois. Due to the dangers of mining the mineral, he struggled to find labor for his mines. Slavery was illegal in Illinois, but one small loophole in the law made it possible to “lease” slaves; Crenshaw did just this. However, he started kidnapping freed men and women and runaway slaves, either putting them to work in his salt mines or up for sale.
In 1817, John Hart Crenshaw married Sinia Taylor, and started building her a better home in the 1830s. He names the three-story mansion Hickory Hill. Unbeknownst the outside world, however, was a secret passageway that allowed for wagons to bring slaves directly into the house, as well as a tunnel that connected the basement to the Saline River to unload slaves brought by boat.