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 38 Pleasant Spring (Palmyra MO) Mile 387
Oct. 11, 1838

The longer rest at Quincy must have restored the Indians’ spirits and bodies. The journal puts it, “The rest of yesterday and the day before had much recruited the health and spirits of the Indians.” The day’s march was “without the occurrence of any difficulties.” At Pleasant Spring (Near Present Palmyra) Capt. J. Holman arrived to become an Assistant Superintendent” of the party. Why he shows up at this point in the journey and what the secret political machinations were going on behind the scene are not told. Only that he had “received his appointment at the suggestion of reports unfavorable to the health of the officers.” What were these reports? What was wrong with the health of the officers that Dr. Jerolaman had not cared for? Was this medical or otherwise? Who knows? All we know is Capt. Holman shows up as a new Assistant Superintendent.

One event of the day was one of the wagons had lost it oxen and had to stay behind at the Mississippi until it rounded up its escaped beasts. The rest of the party had traveled over the flat plains of the Mississippi to Pleasant Spring—nicely named, though it was of course not pleasant for all. An adult woman died shortly after they made camp.

AS FOR ME my days off at Quincy restored me too as it had the Indians. I started at Mill Creek where I had ended the week before in total mental and physical exhaustion and walked to the river with archeologist Steve Tieken which gave me a chance to hear the awesome story of his own spiritual journey. After an interview with WGEM TV (which was broadcast that night) Steve’s wife Janet took me across the Mississippi bridge which allows no foot travel. On the western shore I headed west only to be found by Mark and Jessica Schmerse former students of mine from the quad cities who had driven down to “walk a day with coach D.” We walked in burning sun all day but the delightful conversation was by all means worth it. IN the late afternoon while sitting in the heat beside a side road I had another Schwan’s experience.” This time a Schwan’s ice cream truck pulled off the road without beckoning and out popped the woman driver who opened a side door and brought us three ice cream cones and said, ‘I saw you way back at Quincy and now you’re here—this is for you.” Before this trip I hardly knew of these deliver-to-your-home ice cream people—but I know about them now!.

With threatening thunderstorms rolling in I left Mark & Jess waiting for their hitch back to their car and made camp under a power line above Palmyra and went to asleep before a gentle rain began to fall. Then an hour or two later I woke up to a light in the front of my tent door—it was Ryan Robertson, a recent IWU graduate seeking a job as a teacher. He had found out the general location of my campsite from Mark & Jess announcing he planned to walk with me the next day and wanted to come at night “to get the full 24 hour experience.” I made room in my tent and soon we were both asleep preparing for the next day’s travel.


Blogger Mark said...

HA! Glad to know that Ryan was able to find you!!

9:32 AM  

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