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Brazilla Silkwood ca. 1801-1876Click 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.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.
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
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