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 44-45 Huntsville, MO – Mile 470
Oct 17, 1838

SNOW! The party left Burkhart’s camp with forbidding clouds in the skies and sure enough soon after departing, at 8AM snow started falling and continued all day. Jesse Douglas records it, “…the snow commenced falling very fast and continued during the greater part of the day. Traveling was difficult, the road being exceedingly slippery, and the snow falling so fast as to render very cold and unpleasant the whole journey.”

How much accumulation of snow he does not say—but a “very fast” snowfall all day long certainly would have produced a significant accumulation which would have made walking difficult and slippery. Imagine the cold feet and slush in the Indian’s moccasins. Yet Douglas reports “The Indians traveled without complaint” adding that they “seemed greatly to approve the exertion of government to place them at their new homes.” While we can easily accept this first statement the second may be a tad bit harder to swallow. Yet, considering the promises given perhaps it was true. They were to have houses in Kansas and the land was reported to be rife with game—a virtual paradise for these Indians. I suppose we must remember that the whole country was moving west at this time to the glories there—and perhaps the over-promising that was being done to whites in the east (and in Europe) was doubly done to the Indians. They still had hope—that the government’s promises are good and that this “emigration” farced-as-it-was, would be good for them ultimately. We have yet to see if this will turn out to be true.

They slipped and slid their way for more than seven hours to a camp near Huntsville, Missouri, a total of 13 miles for the day. After pitching camp in the snow during the night it turned to rain. Imagine pitching a floor-less tent for the night where the Indians would have to sleep on the snowy-soggy ground. Polke somehow bought from neighboring farmers straw for them to spread on the icy ground to make their night tolerable.

The next morning, (Day 45) dawned with continuing rain. Polke commanded a day off. As a result of months of drought the roads were already covered with a fine dust which the snow-then-rain turned to a mush that made traveling impossible. The Indians and their white escorts spent a cold rainy day huddled around fires and resting. The journal says “Nothing occurred during the day, save for the drunkenness of a few Indians who had procured liquor at Huntsville.” Once again, no matter how carefully the party watched the “free market” prevailed and buyer and seller made the deal. Nothing is said of arresting them as before. Perhaps in the snow and rain a drunken person merely fell on the straw and went to sleep.

AS FOR ME “nothing occurred during the day” for me too. Since I had overshot their day yesterday, today’s walk was fast--only actually being the last half of their day(see previous day's post). I took the short walk from Moberly to Huntsville in a slight breeze that was much relief from the day before where there was no breeze at all save a passing truck. By 1PM I was in the Huntsville library writing a post. The day is still 85 degrees warm, but the breeze makes it tolerable and I shall push on soon.

Posted from the Huntsville, Missouri library


Blogger One Hand Clapping said...

Hopefully a cool breeze blows you along to the end of the trail.
BTW, do I detect a sign of vanity with the umbrella?
In Europe people carry them whenever it's hot.
Americans, such silly vanity!

12:30 PM  
Blogger G.R. ''Scott'' Cundiff said...

Just to note that I have been reading along -- I will alert the NazNet gang of your journey and link to it from my blog.

7:43 PM  
Blogger Kathy Drury said...

Not sure what is worse-- ice and snow or the heat! Neither is great for sure. Hope you are well--counting down with you-- we are looking forward to seeing you in July!!

5:46 AM  
Blogger Keith.Drury said...

Thanks Muse, and thanks for letting me know you'r reading Scott! U2 kathy!

9:48 AM  

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