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 2 --Mud Creek
(May 1, 2006; Sept 5, 1838)

I walked quickly the next morning to Chippeway, on the Tippecanoe River the site of the Pottawatomie first campsite. On their first night 20 Indians escaped and despite a band of soldiers sent to round them up they were never found. The Indians trip today was short one of 9 miles to Mud Creek (Sketched by George Winter)which was aptly named then as it is today. At this campsite the first death occurred on this “Trail of Death” the first fruits of many to come, mostly children and the elderly. One can imagine the sorrow around one of those late-night cooking fires where the Indians cooks their daily rations of beef and flour. A mother’s child had died today. Yet around another cooking fire there may have been joy, subdued though it may have been—a child was also born on this second night and one can imagine the celebration too. Such is life—a blending of both sorrow and joy, sickness and health, evil and good.

AS FOR ME I sloshed on the route today largely depressed at the incessant rain until I was lifted up by a great treat. A car stopped across form me asking, “You still walkin’? It was Bill Willard who quickly arranged for his wife Shirley to meet us for lunch as soon as I walked the next few miles into the town of Rochester, Indiana where they treated me to a huge luncheon special at the Evergreen Cafe topped off with home-made Cherry pie and about 40 cups of coffee. Shirley Willard probably knows more about the Pottawatomie Trail of Death than any person alive and is the historian I could never hope to be. She toted along her huge collection of maps of the Indiana route which she is arranging to put online eventually and I was able to correct my maps all the way to the Illinois line. Leaving the Evergreen café I was several pounds heavier but walked 20 pounds lighter in the echo of warm conversation with Bill and Shirley. I soon passed Mud Creek the site of the Indian’s second night and the first death/birth on the trail and walked to the edge of Fulton, Indiana where I found an inviting cemetery at the edge of town and I spent the night between Clara and James, having to put up my tiny tarp because of gigantic thunderstorms which kep me awake most of the night.


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