Special territorial laws permitted exceptions to anti-slavery treaties at these salines, and slaves were used extensively in manufacturing salt. The census of 1820 for Gallatin County listed 239 slaves or servants.
During the 1820's Gallatin County included what is now Saline County as its western half. In 1826, the County seat was moved from Old Shawneetown, on the eastern edge of the County, to the new village of Equality, near the center of what was then Gallatin County. Equality remained the county seat until the formation of Saline County in 1847.
In 1838, a local salt maker and kidnapper John Hart Crenshaw began building his manor house at Hickory Hill that was designed as a station on the Reverse Underground Railroad. Still standing it's best known today as the Old Slave House or Crenshaw House.
The Great Salt Springs are located southeast of Equality on federal land along the south bank of the Saline River, seven-tenths of a mile west of Illinois Route 1 on Salt Well Road. Half Moon Lick where the saltworks first developed as a large industry is on private property southwest of Equality.
There were 315 households out of which 29.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.5% were married couples living together, 11.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.6% were non-families. 32.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 18.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.29 and the average family size was 2.90.
In the village the population was spread out with 24.3% under the age of 18, 6.1% from 18 to 24, 26.4% from 25 to 44, 25.5% from 45 to 64, and 17.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 94.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.8 males.
The median income for a household in the village was $22,171, and the median income for a family was $27,625. Males had a median income of $26,250 versus $18,214 for females. The per capita income for the village was $12,961. About 14.0% of families and 20.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 21.4% of those under age 18 and 22.3% of those age 65 or over.
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