Silkwood Inn 2

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Silkwood Inn 2 - How Slave Girl Planted Hollyhocks In S....
How Slave Girl Planted Hollyhocks In S. Illinois BENTON. 111.—Among the earliest memories of the older persons living about Mulkeytown in Franklin county are those of the Silkwood home. Even in their childhood it wa.s spoken of as the Old Silkwood place. This is not strange since the house is far more than one hundred years old. During the memory of the oldest residents, its appearance has remained unchanged. This house is on a gravel road a short distance north of the vil- of Mulkeytown. It was built Brazilla Silkwood, more gen- erally known as Basil Silkwood. It stands beside a sunken roadway, section of the old trail from Shawneetown to the Kaskaskia region. To some it was known as Halfway House because it stood ap- pro .Kimately midway between the Ohio River port of Shawneetown and the early capital of Illinois To others it was known as Silkwood Tavern for many travelers sought and received lodging here. The heavily laden freighter's wagon, the stage coach, men on horseback, and weary foot travel- trudging hopefully toward and other oportuni- ties stopped here. Many persons thus came to know its owner, Ba^" Silkwood was a proir,- influential man and ^'^''^ the average He '""S ^'^^ were evidently a ^..^^^^^ ^^^^pj^ ^^^^ evidenced fgct that, having no child ren of their own they over a period of years, furnished homes to sixteen orphaned children. On a trip to the Carolines about 1837, Silkwood visited on plantation near the Great Smokies. Visits then often extended over weeks. This was such one and in the time he spent there. Silkwood came to know .some of the plantation slaves, particularly the house servants. Among those he came to know was a slave girl, a quadroon, about eight or nine years old, and even then helping with the house hold tasks. Her beauty and cheerfulness attracted his attention. He particularly en.joyed seeing her and (he other slave children as they played on the flower decked gi'ounds about the plantation home and its slave cabins. The little slave girl also came to know 'Marse' Silkwood. His visit ended and the owner returned to his home near Mulkeytown. Shortly after his leaving the plantation owner died, and his property was offered for sale. At the auction of his slaves, families were broken up and (ho little quadroon girl was bought by a well-to-do Cherokee Indian chief living on their reservation in the Great Smokies. Priscilla, for that was her name, was taken by her new owner to live among the Indian.^. Joys I99ff Directors GRANT GREEN KniK MANION MATEEB Before leaving the plantation, where she had played with the other slave children and been happy. Priscilla gathered a quantity of hollyhock seeds and carried them along with her to the strange new home. There she scattered them about the Indian cabins where some of them grew. Priscilla had lived on the reservation about two years when the United States government ordered the Cherokees removed to a new location in the preesnt state of Oklahoma. Soldiers hastily rounded them up and placed them insfockades preparatory to starting on the long journey to the west. The Indians were allowed to take only such property as could be moved easily. Those owning • slaves were permitted to take | them in stockades preparatory to! them before starting on the long journey before leaving her first plantation home the slave girl gathered her apron pockets; ifull of seeds of the hollyhocks she had brought when she came to the reservation. These she carried along with her. The journey toward the new reservation was long and miserable. Tlie Indians and their escort of soldiers, coming by v.ay of Golconda in Pope county, had jreached the vicinity of Jonesboi'o in December, 18,38. when extremely severe winter weather halted their travels. j They encami)ed along Dtiicli Creek, a short way west of Jonesboro, to wait the time when floating ice on the Mississipiii would disappear and make fer- rage possible While waiting in the camp along creek, hundreds of the Indians died. Priscilla's lot was now a most miserable one. She could little dream of iiie strange turn that affairs ux're soon to take. It is at this place that Basil; Silkwood a.gain cntei's (lie stor.\' having business in the town of Jonesboro, he had gone there on ; a December Day in 1838. Stand-;' ing in front of the Willard Hotel, he noted a passing childj about ten years old. She appeared strangely familiar. The child likewise vaguely recognized him. Repassing a short lime later, she made bold to say. Are you 'Marse' Silkwood?" Silkwood i then recalled her as the cheerful! little quadi'oon girl he had known I on the Carolina plantation. j Silkwood talked with her and; learned her story. Full of sym-! pathy lor the child in her plight, j he secured a conveyance and • drove at once to the tent of the Cherokee chief on Dutch Cieck. Silkwood was not long in coming to terms with the Indian andj paid for Pri.scilla. it is said SlOOOi in gold. He then took her to the Silkwood home. Here she was freed, but contin-; uod to live with Silkwood and| his wife until both were dead.; Priscilla lived on for many years] and was a respected joerson in the vicinity. She was a member of the Christian Oiurch at Mulkeytown, and there arc still some very old people who remember | seeing her at the church on Sun- | days. When she died Priscilla was buried in the Silkwood family plot beside Basil and his vvife. Today, about the old Silkwood Place, there arc many small hollyhocks of an unusual red! color. These, long known as the. Priscilla Hollyhocks, have grown about the place for more than a century. They began from the seeds that Priscilla was still carrying with her when Silkwood bought her in Jonesboro. They had been carried by the Quadroon girl on (he Clierokee migration over the route yet known by the people of that nation as the "Trail of Tears." * • * Across the highway from the Silkwood Tavern stands several old locust trees, which are relics of the early days of the tavorn itself. The story is told of an immense drove of turkeys to the market in St. Louis. Arriving at this point about dusk, the turkeys began (o fly to roost in (hese trees and the disgruntled owner was forced to halt for the night. After a century, seeds of the hollyhocks that the quadroon girl [planted about the old homestead Inear Mulkeytown were mailed jto the daughter of the last chief of the Cherokees in Oklahoma. Thus another phrase of that migration of an Indian nation is completed. Perhaps these hollyhocks, gi-owing about the homes i of the Cherokees there, will temper the long memories of a trying Journey,

Clipped from
  1. Mt. Vernon Register-News,
  2. 24 Dec 1959, Thu,
  3. Page 19

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