Salt of the Earth

Book Cover


19th Century,Earlier 20th Century

Mark Allan Johnson

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A story of the Reverse Underground Railroad from the 1840's, through and after the Civil War, ending in 1948.


Historical Fiction

Short Summary

John Hart Crenshaw operates salt mines in the free state of Illinois during the 1840's with legally leased slaves form other states but also increases his considerable wealth by breeding slaves and capturing and selling free Negroes.

The story ends in 1948 with the death of Robert Wilson, who fathered slaves for John Hart Crenshaw and other plantations, at the age of 112.


llinois, California and battles fields of the Civil War.

Based on a True Story


Plot - Premise

Rebellion Against 'The One',Quest,Overcoming Monster/Villain

Plot - Other Elements

Philosophical Questions,Meaningful Message,Happy Ending

Mature Audience Themes


Main Character Details

Name: John Hart Crenshaw

Age: 50-70

Gender: Male

Role: Protagonist

Key Traits: Villainous,Narcisstic,Confident,Aggressive,Badass,Unapologetic,Secretive,Outspoken,Power Hungry,Greedy

Additional Character Details

Name: Beulah

Age: 25

Gender: Female

Role: Antagonist

Key Traits: Adventurous,Heroic,Faithful,Decisive,Modest,Strong Moral Code

Additional Character Details

Name: Devlin Doyle

Age: 35

Gender: Male

Role: mentor

Key Traits: Charming,Decisive,Faithful,Leader,Sophisticated,Romantic,Funny,Visionary,Masculine

Additional Character Details

Name: Michael Kelly Lawler

Age: 30's-60's

Gender: Male

Role: protagonist

Key Traits: Adventurous,Aggressive,Complex,Confident,Religious,Blunt,Decisive,Empathetic,Faithful,Heroic,Honorable,Leader

Development Pitch

John Hart Crenshaw, one of the wealthiest men in Southern Illinois in the 1840's, leases slaves from bordering states to labor in his salt mines. But, he has other ways to increase his wealth, such as breeding slaves on his estate of Hickory Hill, a way station on the Reverse Underground Railroad, capturing and selling freed Negroes for profit. Michael Kelly Lawler, Crenshaw's son-in-law, Irish immigrant and devout Catholic, fights for the abolition of slavery during the Civil War, eventually becoming a General, his faith and beliefs always a trouble to his father-in-law. The story deals with slavery, slave breeding, the Railroad Chinese, runaway slaves living with the Cheyenne, Irish immigrants in the Civil War and after, the Underground Railroad and their final settlements in Canada. It is the story of the ongoing fight for freedom from prejudice that continues to this day.

About The Author

Author of the novel "The Last Resort", books of poetry, "Laughter at a Wake" and "Desert Bloom" and a book of haiku, "In Frozen Fields". A Great Northwest native now retired in Tucson, Arizona with his wife, Judy Boushey.

Target Audiences

Age: 18-34,35-54,55+

Target Gender: Universal

Group Specific

Information not completed

Publishing Details

Status: Yes: self-published

Publisher: Amazon KDP

Year Published: 2020

Hard Copy Available