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 34 Mill Creek (near Quincy, IL) Mile 378
Oct. 7, 1838 May 26, 2006

Polke generally camped outside of a large city or on the opposite shore of a river town, probably to avoid any trouble in town and to especially deprive the soldiers, Wagoneers and Indians of alcohol which often led to trouble between an organized traveling party and a town. In the case of Quincy he did both -- stopping short of town at Mill Creek then crossing the Mississippi river and staying several days on the western shore.

The twelve mile trip from Hobson's Choice campsite to Mill Creek passed over rolling holls then across a high level prairie before dropping slightly to Mill creek. Polke planned to get up early in the morning and get the entire party safely across the river then take several days and "to allow the teamsters and others engaged in the service, sufficient time to repair their wagons, etc."

Other than reporting the journey pleasant and "better than usual supplied with water" the only other item is the almost daily common line closing out the journal, "a child died shortly after we arrived in camp."

AS FOR ME, after checking the marker in Liberty I walked to Mill Creek with little news and little thought. At the Mill Creek historical marker I sat soaked in the humidity until Sharon arrived the now-410 mile distance from our home in Marion, Indiana. The party of Indians took several days off on the western shore of the Mississippi and so shall I.

The half-way mark should be a celebration for me but it's not. It seems like this journey should be over by now, not merely half-over. I am tired and worn-out, have blisters on my feet and the bones in my ankles, heels and knees are screaming, "Go home with your wife tomorrow!" I am tired of walking, tired of eating whatever I can find, tired of sleeping on the ground, tired of the sun, tired of noisy trucks and dirty roads and the overly humid heat. I am tired of writing blog entires that I'm not sure are being read by many, tired of thinking about Indians 150 years ago constantly and continually, I'm tired.

I want to switch channels. I want to think of something else. Go home and write great prose in my air conditioned writer's studio. Attend a good movie. Read a book I don't have to carry in my pack all day. Sleep in my own bed. Go out to a quiet dinner with our friends. I'm tired of this trek. The romance and adventure have been displaced by drudgery. I want to quit. This is how I''m feeling here at the Mill Creek marker, waiting for Sharon to arrive.

I'VE BEEN THINKING TODAY (dictated for book)


Blogger Jim and Jaena said...

I admire your perseverance. I would want to quit too...and may have quite some time ago. Thanks for allowing me (mom of two young children) to travel with you as you journey this long, hard, somewhat unknown trail.

BTW, I read daily but often don't comment because I don't have anything amazing or brilliant to say. :-) -Jaena

10:49 AM  
Blogger Josh said...

ditto this: "BTW, I read daily but often don't comment because I don't have anything amazing or brilliant to say."

Lots of love to you Coach. Wish I was out there keeping you company.

Have fun with Sharon this weekend.

12:55 PM  
Blogger Ken Schenck said...

We're all reading--we all went crazy a week ago when you didn't post almost for a whole week (see Marcia's comment back then)!

1:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To feel pain, to be tired, of course, but at least you're not cutting through brush etc. Yes, why think about the Indians, when your family came from Europe? I digress: I moved here from SF 10 yrs ago. When I came here, I was appalled at what little people in Indiana were aware or cared for the Indians that were here way before the Europeans. Yet, what you don't see.....reminds me of the 50s with the struggle for the african-americans to even sit next to you anywhere.
I continue to think of our government, pushing something (???) in other countries, when we can't even care for our people here, be it Education, Health, etc, etc.
Perhaps, blogging garners a response from only those thoughtful enough to respond.
Some, surely find it easier to read and not commit to anything.
Ahh, but that's another subject.
I can see you are indeed coming away with something and hope you share it beyond the scope of the school and your friends and that, in the end, you find in hindsight it was worth it, despite the negatives that you feel at this time.
Cheers from NM, In!

1:21 PM  
Blogger Pastor Dave said...

Thanks for sharing your experience. I had never really heard of the "Trail of Death". It is overshadowed in history classes by the "Trail of Tears".

I said a prayer for your strength and perseverance. I will keep you in my prayers.

Looking forward to your next blog.

5:49 PM  
Blogger Kathy Drury said...

keep on going dad!! You can do it!! (I told KCity you are coming!)sorry I haven't been great at writing on the blog either but I do check it EVERY day.

6:12 PM  
Blogger pk said...

I'm loving your interactive hike! Next to hiking with you myself this is the best way to share a journey. Thanks for bringing us in on it.

9:10 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

Jess and I have been offline for a bit as we were enjoying the Cascades. Stories for you from that trip. Remember the Snow Cap in Sisters... burgers and malts? Back now and loving getting caught up on your journey.

You plan on walking monday??? or are you with Sharon that day?

9:58 AM  
Blogger Jeanine said...

You certainly are being read -- as far away as South Georgia. I'm following daily -- almost went into withdrawal when you didn't post for days. I don't post comments because my routine dulls compares to walking the trail :-) Thanks for taking us with you!

10:54 AM  
Blogger tricia said...

You rock! I can't believe you have made it so far. I wish I could figure out a way to join you for just a day, but I do enjoy learning from your posts.
Your subject matter reminds me of the change I am seeing of Christians perspective on politics and it is a subject of interest to me. It is really different to me.
Thank you for walking, for sharing, and for enlarging your experiences from which you share!

4:50 PM  
Blogger Mark O. Wilson said...

You're the man, Keith!! I,too, follow your daily treck with interest. You have lots of people cheering you on!!

You inspire many people. Praying for you.

5:14 PM  
Blogger David Drury said...

Yes... what they said.


(I'm now thinking of how many times I've hiked with you and wanted to quit in the half-way point of ONE DAY... so I have no "buck up" words for you. If you quit we'll all still love you, and you could still write a book like "Walk in the Woods" - he quit too).

Go ahead and quit -- no one has a gun to your back! (Of course, *they* did, and perhaps that's part of the point.)

9:25 AM  
Blogger Susan said...

Now you're getting a greater understanding of what the Potawatomi were experiencing. True, they didn't have the heat. But the blisters, the scarcity of food, the continuous walking. And they lost family members and friends along the way. I know I wouldn't have the strength to keep going at this point.

As Shirley told you, even when we travelled as a caravan in cars and campers with our air conditioning on high, we got tired and testy with one another. The days were long, rest hours seemed very short. But we made it and so can you! I so appreciate you taking the time and effort to do this on behalf of people you don't even know except through the pages of history and the hearts of those you've met along the way. I know that by the time we reached Missouri, many of us were ready to get on the freeway and head home. And when we met hostility one year in Missouri some of us vowed not to go there again. But the kind people so outweighed the ugly one. May you continue to meet up with the kind ones.

My home on Kaua'i is far from your trek through Missouri but I've experienced what you're experiencing. And I came away from the caravans a changed person. I mourned at the sites you are visiting. I listened to the stories the ancestors were telling me. And I came to more deeply treasure my Potawatomi heritage and to honor those who went before.

2:21 AM  
Blogger 19 Plymouth said...

Your blog is being read by many...

6:30 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home