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 25 Sangamon Crossing #2 --271 miles
Sept. 28, 1838; May 20, 2006

After 18 miles the party now reached their second Sangamon River crossing a few miles before they were to enter Springfield the first major city on their route. The federal conductor of the “migration,” Judge Polke, asked Chief I-o-weh to get the Indians to dress up to make a snazy appearance as they would apss through this town. The journal expected that they would “present quite a gaudy appearance” to the city folk, and to get them to dress up fancy they were promised some tobacco, something they ahd been wanting for several days.

This would be their last camp on the pleasant Sangamon Rver and they journaled that they expected there would be a greatly reduced number of sick once the doctors quit being sick themselves and could chack on the Indians again. However, inspite of the cheery entry two children died during the night. What must it be like to wake up in the morning to find your child dead beside you in the tent?

AS FOR ME I walked a hard and quiet day. My companions are now gone which makes it quiet, and the 85 degree heat makes it hard. I walked from one town of 500 to another. In Illopolis I had breakfast at a tiny diner and answered my mail received at Decatur and listened in to the conversations of the local farmers and other complainers at the next table.


Then hopped from tiny town to another until I was wonderfully rewarded in Buffalo IL where the friendly postmistress of the tiny post office steered me to the only store in town—B & D grocery where I got the best meatball sandwich in my life—piled high with onions and cheese and ate it along with a quart of chocolate milk in the perfectly manicured Buffalo Park across the street which even offered a pavilion. How I appreciate public parks, benches, and especially pavilions as a walker. Automobile travellers can always drive on ten miles for a place to stop—that’s a half day’s journey for me though.

An hour or two later I started feeling seasick--with the hot 85 degree afternoon sun blazing down on me, and that quart of chocolate milk churning in my stomach and the seven meatballs that were on that sandwich floating around—I simply had to lay down in a shady place for several hours for my stomach to deal with what was by now chocolate buttermilk meatball stew. By 6PM I was able to walk again and I walked to the Sangomon river to discover the bridge completely out and I took a bypass road and spent the night courtesy of a field between a cell phone tower and a local model airplane club’s “airport.”

ON THE MORNING OF SATURDAY THE 20th I walked the 3-4 remaining miles into Springfield where I headed south on a three-mile “side trail” to the Drury Inn (appropriate) where I will stay all day tomorrow, picking up my journey again Monday, hopefully refreshed and scrubbed clean. Also I can catch up on my blogging and writing tomorrow after church--refining thse rough posts a bit, and writing up a short bio of my favorite white man on this journey--the federal conductor, William Polke. ON SECOND THOUGHT. After one night in a smoking room which did not improve the cough I've had since Thursday night I decided on Sunday morning to "walk on" catching a worship service on my way out of town. It's funny...when hiking I almost always sleep so much better in a tent than in a hotel... looking forward to a better sleep tonight in my tent again. (That's no slight to Drury inn--if you're gonna' stay in a hotel they're the best!)


Blogger rikkirn said...

I read an article in our paper (Decatur Herald and Review) on Friday about your journey. I am currently attending the IWU online MBA program so was even more interested since you are an IWU professor. I have emailed the link to your web stie to the others in my class. I wish you well on your journey and look forward to reading your posted entries.

8:56 AM  
Anonymous Alicia said...

Mr. Drury, Thank you so much for the interview. I sent a tearsheet to your residence as you wished. I wish you all the luck as you continue your journey. Thanks again!

8:42 AM  

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