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

My Photo
Location: Marion, Indiana, United States

Professor Emeritus


Day 26 McCoy;s Mill (Riddle Hill) Mile 288
September 29, 1838; May 21, 2006

The migrating party made a scene in Springfield, the new capitol of Illinois. Promised some tobacco for their best behavior the Indians dressed up in their finery and “arranged themselves into a line with an unusual display of finery and gaudy trumpetry marched through the streets of Springfield.” The citizens completely crowded the streets so that it hampered the party’s progress. They saw how a neighboring state had handled “the Indian problem” and seeing the Indians in fancy dress was their entertainment for the day. Right down town and through the Capitol square they marched. To us today this seems a demeaning act—like using children for entertainment of s, but perhaps at the time it was less so?

The Indians would have seen the impressive new Capitol under construction already for a year. Here, more in line with the awe of Greek construction rose up a mighty stone building no match for the natural Indian wigwams. It was a sign of the future. The new owners of this country would build great stone Capitol buildings, skyscrapers, Interstate highways, go to the moon and introduce big box stores in the coming years. The simple life of the Indians would become a minority sidetrack in a culture of BIG—to be observed like the Amish.

Did 29 year old Abraham Lincoln see this parade? He had moved to Springfield a year before and lived only a few blocks from the city square. Perhaps. Or he may have been out practicing circuit riding law in one of the county seats around Illinois at the time. Whatever, it was a city-wide spectacle that day. As a sidelight, just nine years later from this city square would leave the ill-fated Donner party for California. Here in comfortable Springfield our intermittent physician, Dr. Jerolamon requested permission to stay behind to recuperate—the late-coming doctor was still sick.

After marching through Springfield the party camped a half dozen miles past the city at McCoy’s mill (near present day Riddle Hill) where a marker is found in from of the New Salem United Methodist Church. The journal calls the stream east of the church a stream ‘affording little water.”

AS FOR ME I checked in at all the Lincoln sites and moved west, including his home and offices (which were not yet occupied at the time of the Potawatomi emigration) then headed westerly. I’m in my fourth week of walking now so a sort of westward drift has settled in—less goal oriented and less scheduled, just constantly drifting west unconcerned about distance and mileage. I pitched my tent in a grassy spot overlooking a new millionaire "gentleman’s farmhouse" under construction but not yet occupied.


Post a Comment

<< Home