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 20 Pyatt’s Poiint (Montcello) --210 miles
Sept. 23, 1838; May 16, 2006

Father Petit persuaded William Polke to let the group leave late this Sunday—so he could hold mass. Polke was the official federal “conductor” of this journey, and he was now in charge since General Tipton had left, his authority expiring at the Indiana state line.

After mass the party walked across 15 miles of open land without a tree until they reaced the Sagamon River at Piatte’s Point (Montecello, Ill). The doctor must have improved in health and gave a report of 40 sick Indians. Two deaths occurred, a child early in the morning and on on the road to this camp on the river.

The river must have been a welcom site to these woodland Indians. There were not used to living in open prarie and thus the next few days as they followed the Sagamon River would be a treat.

AS FOR ME and my new partners we walked the roads and once some sun came out we dried out bags on a grassy spot across from a farmhouse who responded by calloing the Sheriff who ran ouor IDS through his system and half-apologized for the landowner’s response to us “doing our laundry” across the road. In Montecello I ate two pounds of fresh fruit salad from the grocery store salad bar (to the tune of $6.04) and we sat several hours in the McDonald’s waiting for the rain to lighten up. Here an 85 year old man who watched us come in offered his stories of runnning the rails and living in the Hobo Jungle in the 1930’s—assuming we were today’s equivilent. Once the rain cleared we walked out of town and camped on the ridge just above the Sangmon river—a river we will generally follow all the way to Springfield, as the Indians did.


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