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

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Day 43 Burkhart's Camp (Moberly MO) Mile 457
Oct. 16, 1838

ICE! When the party woke this morning in Paris their water was frozen. Paris became a turning pint of sorts for the migration party. Up to Paris the challenge was sun, heat and dust. Afterward it would beocold bitter wind on the open praries, rain and mud. The Indians lived more by nature's calendar than printed ones. The first morning's frozen water indicated a change of seasons--a harbinger of the coming winter season. It may have made them want to hasten their pace to get the the promised new houses in Kansas. Beaking the ice on the water they drank plenty before leaving, ate a bit, took down their tents and packed the wagons and horses--all of which took several hours each day, a wearisome task.

The party moved west in a cold wind for seven hours to Burkhart's camp--a few miles east of present day Moberly, MO. They would have followed the old "bee trace" a road at that time which connected the Mississippi and Missouri rivers across Missouri, generally following today's US 24. (Or perhaps maybe something closer to the old Wabash Rail Road--now Norfolk-Southern. Indeed, for the last three weeks I have been crisscrosing the NS railroad route. Of course that railroad did not exist in 1838 but it almost always follows the route and never "squares off" corners for farms so I've wondered if it picked up the old "bee trace" right-of-way in Missouri or it is present-day US 24--something I've got to research.) The road map from the period (showed to me by Nancy Stone, Monroe County historian) pretty well gave me an idea of the "roads" in 1838 so I now I have a pretty good grasp of the route where it follows or departs from 24. This section offered little water continued to the Indians and their escorts and thus required a longer than usual day. Jesse Douglass, the scribe for the official journal reports "Health still improving. Complaints of sickness are scarcely to be heard. It is a short entry.

Actually their probable "Burkhart's camp" was more likely near the present day town of "Old Milton" where they crossed the Elk fork of the Salt River. That woiuld make true the journal's locating the camp 18 miles west of Paris and 13 miles east of Huntsville. But, of course the markers usually say "camped near here" and the boy scouts and historical societies have a gargantuan task of getting permiussion to place these markers and are often limited to city parks, rest stops and public locations. There is actually a marker beside the men's rest room door in West Quincy--the only place that would give prmission in the area for the marker.

AS FOR ME Sharon left this morning after our day together. I headed west in a somber mood, knowing I would not see her again until the very end of the journey. This day was a turning point for me too. I noticed by the end of the day I qiuit counting UP and started counting DOWN. I have come 457 miles but have quit looking at that number so much as how many are LEFT (202 miles). At the same time I've noticed the people I meet have switched the opposite way. They are less interested that I am "walking all the way to Kansas" and more commonly exclaim, "You walked all the way here FROM Indiana?"

Today was a long day for me. The journal records their journey as 18 miles, and they took a direct westerly route as I did. I went to the marker on a puddle-creek and knew the miles were wrong--before realizing later that actually they probably camped at the Elk fork of the Salt River 3-4 miles before I stopped--thus I put miles in the bank for tommow. This night I was able to actually camp at the boulder-marker site-- unusual for me since the spots are often in a too-public place to sleep nearby. But I arrived well after sundown and one can about sleep anywhere after dark if you are on foot (assuming you also rise before sunrise, which I do).

I have greater relief from the sun this week, thanks to my umbrella. I had started off tis trip with a Go-Lite umbrella and dropped it in the middle of the journey. I added the umbrella back this weekend. It is such a relief. I look silly walking along the road with an umbrella--as if I am some sort of blueblood sissy walking with my parasol. However, in walking across the Mojave desert last summer I discovered the great secret of walking with "Portable shade." I can leave off my hat and let my bare head catch tiny breezes of refreshment on my sweat-dripping face. Even passing truck-wind was welcome today to bring a bit of coolness.

My progress this week will determine my ending date. Since I must fly to Washington state June 17-24 I have to either finish this trek by the 16th, or come back and complete the final leg the 25the and after. This week's progress will determine which will be my ending date. Of course it is not up to me but my feet. My feet are the executive branch of bodily government. I can walk 25-30 miles a day with my head, heart, back and other body parts. The feet are always the weakest link. My blisters are healing though 20 mile days on roadway surface does add new blisters on top of the old almost-healed ones giving me blister-layers. So I will let my feet be the governors of my progress and they shall decide my actual finish date--and they'll decide this week probably.

I updated this in Moberly where the Holiday Inn Express kindly let me use their business computer.


Blogger Mary Henson said...

Dear Kieth,

I am so glad that we met on your walk to Kansas. Hopefully the water and energy bar gave you some extra energy to finish your journey for June 4, 2006. I will be following your progress with eagerness and appreciation for what you are doing.

Best wishes and continued health on your journey.

God Bless you,

Mary Henson
Moberly, MO.

5:49 PM  
Blogger David Drury said...

Here's hoping you make your timeline... or that if you don't you won't think it a big deal :-)

5:14 PM  

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