Posts Tagged ‘Cave-In-Rock’


About 1790, Isaiah Potter built Potts Inn (Potts Tavern) on Potts Hill in Illinois. This is a couple miles or so from the pirate stronghold of Cave-in-Rock, which was on the Ohio River. Isaiah Potts was also a partner in nearby Ohio River ferries. From the start of the inn, people began dying. People crossing from Kentucky often ended up dead at Potts Inn as did travelers o nearby roads. The most famous of the Potts family was Billy Potts who carried on the tradition of killing travelers for money and horses.

The surviving photos of Potts Inn are about 100 years old.  In 1947, the pictured farmhouse replaced Potts Inn. Potts field lay behind the farmhouse. Plowing produced countless skeletons—but Potts Inn was built on a Shawnee village site.

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Cave-In-Rock was THE base for Ohio River pirates from 1790 to the 1870s. River pirates included Samuel Mason and the Harpe Brothers. It is on the Ohio River just west of Shawneetown, Illinois. Isaiah Potts operated the Potts Inn to waylay those foolish enough to travel by land.

Nowadays the cave is part of Cave-In-Rock State Park. The sleepy village of Cave-In-Rock grew up around Potts Inn (there is now a Potters Church). Several movies featured Cave-In-Rock.

My grandfather, Orval Pait, was from Shawneetown. For a few years his father, Alonzo Pait, lived in the village of Cave-In-Rock, no word of whether he was a pirate (just kidding, Alonzo was an itinerant minister).

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