Trail Of Death Journey

Journal notes walking the "Trail of Death" tracing the Potawatomi Indians forced removal from Indiana to Kansas in 1838. This blog is in process of being re-ordered and moved to

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Location: Marion, Indiana, United States

Professor Emeritus


Day 19 Sidoris Grove --195 miles
Sept. 22, 1838; May 15, 2006

Up to now heat and dust had been a problem but now, on the way to Sidoris’ Grove it turned cold late in September when the Potawatomi made this journey. Heay rain brought a cold front and they walked the 16 miles from Sidney to the grove of trees at Sidoris on open prarie. The official journal assesses the health of the camp improving “not a death has occurresd to-day.”

Sidoris Grove had been a traditional gathering place for the prarie Indians long before Henry Sidoris settled here 14 years before the Potawatomi passed through. Henry drove six yoke of oxen pulling a prairie Schooner to this site, the oxen strong enough to break the foot-thick sod of the prarie to “turn the land into something useful.”

The westward moving band discharged a wagoner for drunkeness today, which meant he had to turn around his wagon and head home on his own, no small punishment. And they needed the wagons for the sick too. In the evening two Indians also became intoxicated and were arrested and put under guard. (Of course they did not dischare and send the drunken Indians back to Indiana, however.) This may be a good point to remind us that though Menominee preached total abstinence from alcohol this migrating group included many not in his band, who followed other chiefs, and who were not Catolic or Christian. While I am especially interested in the Christian aspects of this story as a Christian minister, not all these Indians were devout Catholics any more than all of Americans religious today. Menominee is perhaps the most famous of the chiefs (General Tipton refused to even consider him a chief, but only a “principal man”) because he refused to accept payment for his land, but there were a variety of other chiefs in this traveling band—at least a hafl dozen. Same for religious affiliation.

AS FOR ME I now have two companions for the next four days: Phil Woodbury, a retired Physician from Indianapolis, and Jason Denniston, a youth pastor from Fairmount, Indiana. We started out Monday morning in steady rain, passing through Tolono then on for a rest at the only “store” in Sidoris, owned by the local entraneprenuer who is also the mayor—a storage unit that had a coke machine in front of it. We headed past Sidoris and a giant thunderstorm came up so fast we got soaked us before we could pitch our tiny tents between two Alfalfa fields. We slept wet tonight.


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