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 40 Clinton (North Fork) -- Mile 427 Oct. 13-14 1838

The political intrigue thickened on this day as General Morgan prepared to leave. Chief Ash-kem and others came to the headquarters first thing in the morning before departing to Clinton, to speak with Polke, the federal conductor of the outfit. They stated they were not happy with Morgan’s leaving. There were promises Morgan had made they were not sure would be kept in his absence. They also requested that they travel less and remain in camp longer.

However the Indians were not unanimous in their support of Morgan. While Ash-kum and his group rejected Morgan’s leaving Chief I-o-weh disagreed ‘in strong terms” stating that these other men were not in fact chiefs and were not entitled respect as such, and Judge Polke should conduct them to their new homes in Kansas.

It was often true in the white’s negotiations with the Indians (and usually to the disadvantage of the Indians) competing tribes and competing chiefs undercut each other and allowed the whites to almost always have at least one “chief” on their side. Indeed the whole land “purchase” was accomplished without all the chiefs signing—and some chiefs (and especially the whites) claiming that certain men were not chiefs at all (e.g. as Tipton claimed against Menominee’s claim that he did not sign the treaties). Here the Indians were divided and they lost—as always.

We do not know what happened behind the scenes but after Polke had stated that General Morgan had offered voluntarily his resignation then Morgan himself thanked the Indians for their supportand promptly left before they left for Clinton. The party moved on to Clinton MO (present day North Fork) and the day was windy and dusty and “exceedingly afflicting.” They had arrived at Clinton by 3 PM and camped along See’s Creek facing the difficulty of wind and dust again.

As to their request to travel fewer miles it is not clear it was heard. So far they had walked 427 miles in 40 days--less than 10 miles per day average. IN the next dozen days they would walk another 119 miles with three days off an average of about ten miles a day--but 13 a day figuring walking days only. However it may have seemed to be listened to--since they were now taking every Sunday off.

AS FOR ME I left with several of Josephine’s sausage biscuits in my pack and decided to take a few shorter days as blister treatment—several the size of silver dollars on my heals. Walking on all gravel roads I stopped for water at a nearby farmhouse to be greeted by Shane McClintic “Sure—I saw you on TV” (Quincy WGEM news coverage). Not only did I get cold water, Shane made a giant sandwich of home made bread with slabs of ham and cheese on it. I sometimes feel guilty at all the great treatment I’ve gotten given the original travelers on this route. I camped for the night by mid afternoon as a great rainstorm rolled in planning to sleep late the next day--say, 7AM or so.


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