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This page was put up on the unlikely chance that someone reading it might know something about Priscilla Silkwood, who was freed from slavery at Jonesboro, Illinois, on the Trail of Tears.  Can you tell me anything about Priscilla? 
Who originally enslaved her? Where was the plantation in the South where Brazilla Silkwood from Mulkeytown, IL, orginally met her? (Some accounts say the plantation was in Georgia, some say in North Carolina, a few say South Carolina.) 
Who was  the "Cherokee chief" that the legend says owned her?  Could he have been one of the two Cherokee who with their wives were reported to have stayed at the home of Winstead and Anna Davie in Jonesboro? 
One of those "chiefs" was the Rev. Jesse Bushyhead, who lead one of the detachments.  He was not a chief, but was very prominent and highly respected for his intelligence and oratorical skill.   He was frequently called  "Chief."  Many years later, his son Dennis was voted into the position of Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation. 
The other chief  at the Davie home was reported to have been "Chief Nowata," but that is confusing because "Nowata" is a Delaware word, and no one has been unable to find any Cherokee by that name.  My belief is that the second so-called chief was the Rev. Stephen Foreman, an assistant conductor of one detachment and a highly educated native pastor. His wife had a baby boy at the Dutch Creek camp ground on December 3, 1838, the same day Winstead Davie applied for a license to keep boarders in his home.
Someone said there was a photo or Priscilla, but early researchers never found one.  Do you have one in your attic? 
I have been unable to find Priscilla's freedom papers.  John Allen thought they were at the Franklin County court house. They are not there now, they told me, when I went there.  If you have any information, please email me! 

You can email me by clicking here!

The Illinois Chapter of  the Trail of Tears Association
The Illinois TOTA sponsored a bus tour across Southern Illinois from river to river for our second meeting of the year. Two buses with tour guides for Pope, Johnson, and Union Counties crossed the southern end of our state where a small group of Cherokee crossed in 1837 and then some 11,000 came in the sorrowful trek in 1838-39, where more died on the Trail of Tears than any other state.
The first 2009 Illinois TOTA meeting was Sunday afternoon at the newly remodeled Morris Library on the campus of Southern Illinois University Carbondale on April 26, from 1:30 to 3:30.  Everyone was invited to come see what is happening at the library, enjoy refreshments, and learn about the Trail of Tears through our region. 
The purpose of the Illinois TOTA is to discover and share information about the 1838-39 Trail of Tears through Southern Illinois  and to encourage the development and preservation of the Trail.  At the present time, there are three general meetings a year.  The public is always invited to the meetings.
Anyone with a story to tell about ancestors who dropped off the Trail of Tears is encouraged to share their story with the TOTA. The Illinois Chapter has an ongoing oral history project trying to capture and preserve these fascinating stories.  Let us know if you have a story and we will be certain you know the next time we have a program to collect more stories.  
In addition to the three general meetings in 2008, the public was invited to the site certification celebration with Joe and Ethel Crabb at the Crabb-Abbott Farm.  Almost 100 people stood in the rain that cold January day to watch the National Park Service and the Illinois TOTA unveil the sign there.  Later the Crabb family fed everyone a wonderful meal at the Dixon
Springs park kitchen and dining room.  His family surprised Joe with a birthday cake  large enough for that crowd.
The last 2008 TOTA meeting was at the Jackson County Historical Society building located at 1616 Edith Street, Murphysboro, IL, on Sunday, September 28, 2008, beginning at 1:30 p.m.  People were encouraged to come share and hear stories by those whose ancestors dropped off the Trail of Tears. 
The second meeting of the year was hosted by the The Johnson County Genealogical and Historical Society.  Gary Hacker was the presenter and told of his extensive ongoing research of the TOT through Johnson County.
The first meeting of 2008 was on Saturday, March 29, at 1 p.m. in Harrisburg at the Saline County Museum.  This was another oral history meeting, and people whose ancestors dropped off the Trail of Tears in Illinois were encouraged to come and tell their stories, and several did so making for a fascinating program.
The Illinois Chapter works with the National Park Service to certify specific sites of the 1838-39 Trail, which roughly follows Route 146 across the three counties of Pope, Johnson, and Union.   A few of these 11,000 people crossing our state dipped into Alexander County.
Two officially designated sites on the Trail of Tears include Camp Ground Cumberland Presbyterian Church Cemetery and the Joe and Ethel Crabb-Abbott farm in western Pope  County.  At the Camp Ground  cemetery, Cherokee camped at the traditional camping ground there before the church was ever established.  At the Crabb-Abbott Farm, Cherokee were able to ford the creek on their journey west.  The farm is private land, and you may call Joe Crabb to gain permission to see the Trail.
Directions to Crabb-Abbott Farm  on Hound Ridge Road:  To get here from the Vienna area, or if coming on I 24, drive approximately 12.5 miles East on IL 146 to Hound Ridge Road.  Turn right on Hound Ridge and drive 1.5 miles to the farm on the left.  If coming from the other direction on IL 145, turn at the intersection at Dixon Springs to IL 146 and drive 1.5 miles West to Hound Ridge Road and turn left on Hound Ridge Road.
To visit the Camp Ground Church and Cemetery, if you are coming down I-57, turn right onto Route 146.  Just around the corner , is the well-marked lane on the north side of the road leading to the church and cemetery.

If you are interested in the Trail of Tears through Southern Illinois, please go to my other web site by clicking here.

To read of another young girl named Priscilla, who was also enslaved, click here.