In the early 1800s, the Underground Railroad helped slaves in their escape from southern Illinois. Many slaves seeking freedom were hidden on an island on the Ohio River between Illinois and Kentucky.
John Crenshaw of the Old Slave House and “Reverse Underground Railroad” fame, found out that some slaves were hidden on the island. Being the enterprising businessman that he was, Crenshaw decided that he would capture these escaped slaves and sell them at a large profit. Slave hunters went searching for the slaves on the island. The slaves were very well hidden and evaded capture. Crenshaw became very angry and frustrated that the slaves had eluded him. A new plan was hatched. Crenshaw sent the slave hunters back to the island with a boat loaded with vicious, very hungry wild hogs. The hunters used bullhorns to loudly announce to the slaves that they had one hour to surrender or the wild hogs would be released.
The slaves, being afraid of being captured and being sent back into slavery, stayed in their hiding places. After the allotted amount of time, the hungry hogs were released. The hogs accomplished what the hunters had failed…they located and savagely devoured each and every one of the slaves.
For many years afterward, boatmen and other river traveler heard the most pitiful and terrifying screams coming from the island. They soon named it Pig Island. Today, it is uncertain if Pig Island still exists. Some likely locations for Pig Island are listed in the 1818 edition of The Navigator published by Cramer & Spear.
The possible locations are Stevenson’s Island at Ohio River mile 1006, Island No. 85 at mile 1009, Battery Rock Bar at mile 1013, Trade Water Island at mile 1015 or Cave-in-Rock Island at mile 1022.
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