WSIU TV 8 | WUSI TV 16 | WSIU 91.9FM | WUSI 90.3FM | WVSI 88.9FM | WSIU HD 91.9FM

Mapping the Trail of Tears in Southern Illinois Exhibit

Click on the Numbers for More Detail


Trail of Tears in Johnson County - Mr. Silkwood & Priscilla

image of brazilla silkwood

Brazilla Silkwood ca. 1801-1876

image of silkwood inn Click Photo To Englarge

The Silkwood Inn, or Mulkeytown, Illinois, as it appeared in the 1930's.

Photograph courtesy of Special Collections Research Center, Morris Library, Southern Illinois University Carbondale Library.

image of silkwood inn drawing Click Photo To Englarge

Drawing of the Silkwood Inn as it appeared in the 1960's.

Drawing by Tim Carter


One of the stories often told about Southern Illinois and the Cherokee Trail of Tears revolves around Brazilla Silkwood and the little slave or quadroon girl, Priscilla.

image of priscilla silkwood

Artist's depiction of Priscilla. It was said that she loved chickens, children, and hollycocks.

Drawing by Richard Greenwood

Brazilla Silkwood, a businessman from Mulkeytown Illinois, had seen firsthand the horrors of slavery during a journey through the south. In the winter of 1838, while on a business trip to Jonesboro, Silkwood encountered a little African-American girl named Priscilla.

Priscilla recognized Mr. Silkwood from a visit he had made to her former owner’s home in Georgia. Silkwood remembered the girl, and learned that after the death of her owner, she had been sold to a Cherokee man.

Silkwood negotiated to free Priscilla. He is said to have purchased Priscilla from the Indian. The amount paid is not known. Some say he gave a few trinkets, others a small amount of cash, but most say Silkwood posted a $1,000 bond to buy the slave girl. Silkwood brought Priscilla home to live with his family at the Silkwood Inn in Mulkeytown.

Priscilla was about 14 when Silkwood took her to live at his Inn. She spent the rest of her life at Silkwood Inn and was buried in 1892 in the Silkwood family plot at the Reid-Kirkpatrick Cemetery.

Adapted from The Silkwood Inn: Illinois Landmark by Chloe Davis and Ruby Henderson


Regional Sponsors

dept of forestry logo walgreens logo

National Sponsors

Bank of America Evelyn & Walter Haas, Jr Fund Corporation for Public Broadcasting The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations Park Foundation

National Park Foundation The Peter Jay Sharp Foundation The Pew Charitable TrustsGM

THE NATIONAL PARKS: AMERICA'S BEST IDEA is a co-production of

Florentine Films and WETA

siu logo 2011

WSIU and its parent institution, Southern Illinois University, is an equal opportunity employer and will not discriminate against any person on the basis of race, religion, national origin or sex in violation of Title VII.
The most recent WSIU EEO report, 2013 Community Impact Report and WSIU Financial Audit are available for review.
The online version of the FCC WSIU Public File is available here.