Sneed’s Crenshaw Crossing History

Robert and Jane Crenshaw came to Williamson County from Equality where Robert’s brother manufactured salt and built a mansion on Hickory Hill. The mansion is now known as the “Old Slave House,” Robert and Jane settled in section 3, of West Marion Township and built a log cabin.

The farm fell to Fred R. Crenshaw, the younger son of Robert and Jane, in 1903. The Coal Belt Electric Railroad built tracks through the Crenshaw farm. This railroad gave motor car service to Herrin, Marion and Carterville. The railroad crossed the road that ran in front of the Crenshaw house and a station was set up there. It was named Crenshaw Crossing.

William Crenshaw, the third son of Robert and Jane, opened a store at Crenshaw Crossing in 1906. Within a year Robert Wilson and Thomas McCracken built stores there. The Watson Mine was near Crenshaw Crossing and the residents of the village worked in the mine.

Fred R. Crenshaw platted seven irregular width lots between the C. B. and Q. Railroad and the Coal Belt Electric Line April 21, 1915 and recorded it in Plat Book 5, page 35. About fifty houses were built in Crenshaw Crossing. The Crenshaw Baptist Church was organized and a house of worship erected.

Coal was shallow around Crenshaw Crossing and strip mining began here. The Lester Mine was just half a mile west of Crenshaw Crossing. It was there that the Herrin Mine Riot occurred, June 22, 1922. It was from Crenshaw Crossing that the committee to negotiate with the non-union miners embarked. Before they reached the mine they were machine-gunned by mine guards. It was to Crenshaw Crossing that the others on the committee dragged the body of their member, Joe Pitcavich. Here then the mob violence flared.

After the Herrin Mine Riot, Southern Illinois coal was boycotted in many parts of the nation, for the riot was widely and adversely published. Coal production declined. The Great Depression crushed Crenshaw Crossing. Coal is still mined around the village but it is done by huge stripping machinery. Less man are used in this kind of mining. The Coal Belt Line tracks were taken up. Crenshaw Crossing was left without industry or public transportation.

Today 11 houses remain. They are almost completely surrounded by heaps of mine spoil from the Forsyth Energy Mine. The Crenshaw home still stands and is well kept. It belongs to Paul Crain who lives in the house. The Crenshaw Baptist Church was disorganized and the building sold to Charles Crockett. Mr. Crockett plans to convert it into a dwelling. Some houses have been damaged by heavy blasting in the mine but most of them are in a fair state of repair. There are no businesses of any kind in Crenshaw Crossing.

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(Ghost Towns of Southern Illinois, by Glenn J. Sneed, published 1977)