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 39 See’s Creek Mile 410
Oct. 12, 1838

The party now were traversing rolling hills and having camped outside of town they passed through the Palmyra at ten AM. It must have been quite a spectacle for these small towns to see more than 800 Indians and their guards pass through town single file—a column almost three miles in length. Of course one risk is that the Indians (or the soldiers) would buy liquor in these towns, get drunk and cause trouble with the townsfolk who may have been delighted to respond. Everyone was watched carefully, but it is difficult to keep a motivated buyer from meeting a motivated seller and the journal reports “two or three Indians were found to have procured liquor and became much intoxicated.” They were arrested and put under guard until they slept it off.

The health of the Indians was apparently improving because “medicine has not been for some time administered to them.” They reported the wagon that had lost its oxen had caught up to the column and in a simple line that must hide tremendous maneuvering the journal says, “Gen. A. Morgan, who has heretofore been acting in the capacity of Assistant Superintendent in the emigration gave notice that he should offer his resignation to-morrow.” The day before Capt. Holman arrived as an Assistant Superintendent and today Morgan announces his resignation—Hmmmmmmm.

What was going on? We do know that General Tipton thought little of Morgan. He had written September 3 to Abel Pepper, “Gen’l Morgan hangs on to the emigration although we were compelled to stop him from even dividing the provisions to the Indians for which he is wholly unfit, without personal respect or sense of honor he will cling to the noxious vapors of an Indian camp for money the sport of every wag.” What did this mean? Was Morgan crooked and used the Indians as a means of profit? Or did he identify with the Indians and hung around their camp (instead of staying with the elite fellow officers, some of whom even had their own personal servants along to cook for them?

I have seen this among missionaries—where the missionary who identifies too much with the people (instead of their fellow missionaries) almost always is rejected by the other missionaries. Was this the case for Gen’l Morgan? Is he a good guy in this story or was he out to make money off the Indians? He did make some money. He was paid $594 for his work—only the federal conductor, Polke ($842) and doctor Jerolaman ($908) received more money on the final accounting. Was he an incompetent officer hanging on just for this pay? Was he making money off the distribution of the provisions or selling to the Indians? We don’t know. All we know is one day Capt. Holman shows up and the next day Gen’l Morgan announces he will resign the next day. And why do this? Why announce you are going to resign tomorrow? Why not just resign today? What was really going on here?

AS FOR ME Ryan and I picked up a big breakfast at the Hardies where one of the markers is located and walked all day on gravel roads in the blistering sun. In a late afternoon stop laying on the tall grasses and picking ticks off our legs Don and Liz Gander appeared from their car with cookies and a cooler of iced drinks. They announced that I would stay tonight with Josephine Gander, an 89 year old woman who has sponsored two of the trail markers and still lives in the farmhouse she moved into the year I was born (1945). Picking up the pace we walked to Mt Vernon church where the marker is located remembering the See’s Creek campsite where three women were baking cinnamon rolls for the church’s bake sale and insisted we have one each to encourage us on our way. Ryan had planned to hitch back to his car in Palmyra but Liz insisted she would take him back after dinner. 89 year old yet spry Josephine Gander prepared a meal of garden corn, beans, creamed potatoes, ham and topped it off with pineapple-coconut pie before Liz took Ryan back to his car and I retired for the night before dark in this old farm house. I am much encouraged oin this trip!


Blogger Mark said...

That whole picking ticks off your legs is true. When we got home I found a couple I missed sucking away.

Glad to see the encouragements continue!

9:34 AM  

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