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 51 Carrollton Mo –Mile 536

Oct 24, 1838

The most shocking entry of all appears in today’s journal. To me, at least. They were walking a dozen miles into Carrollton and it was bitter cold on the prairie. Here is the casual entry in today’s journal: “This morning before leaving camp a quantity of shoes were distributed among the indigent and bare-footed Indians, the weather being too severe for marching without a covering to the feet.”

Can you believe this? Some of these Indians had come 536 miles in bare feet! This was not merely an upgrade from moccasins to hard shoes—the journal specifically cites the Indians "bare feet." Incredible! Some of the Indians had walked more than 500 miles in bare feet—probably the children for sure. No wonder so many kids gave up an died at the end of the day. Sure, the Indian feet were hardened, but still 500 bare-footed miles. Astonishing.

Where’d they get the shoes? Did they have them all the time and were hoping to not have to issue them thus saving on the government's budget? Or, did they buy them up along the way then save them up until it got cold? What about last week’s snow? Since they had failed to issue shoes then we must presume these bare-footed Indians walked all day in the snow with bare feet. Incredible!

Some have mistakenly theorized that all the Indians rode horses or rode in the wagons for the journey after General Tipton left (he claimed to have recommended this to Polke to shorten the trip). Today’s entry shows that at least some Indians were still walking 500+ miles into the journey—and they were doing so bare-footed!

Today’s journal also mentions the Mormons for the first time. Missouri in 1838 was the location of the infamous Mormon Wars between the Mormons and the settlers. The Mormons had established their settlement in Missouri (as they had before in Illinois before being kicked out) but the settlers wanted them out and hostilities arose including armed troops, cabin-burning and outright warfare on both sides. The journal reports it this way: “The country through which we passed to-day is very much excited. Nothing is heard—nothing is talked of but the Mormons and the difficulties between them and the citizens of Upper Missouri. Carrollton is nightly guarded by its citizens.”

The Indians were removed because they were in the way of “ordinary people” (white European settlers) who wanted their land. The Mormons were also white and European but they were in the way too. In their case it was religious differences, not racial veriety that brought their removal. Mormons had not been welcome in Illinois. They were not welcome in Missouri either. Having been expelled from both states they would go west until they found land nobody else wanted. Just like the Indians.

AS FOR ME I spent most of the day thinking about the Mormons and the Indians and their similarities and differences and the fate for both groups whose paths almost crossed in 1838 in Missouri. But mostly I thought about shoes. I am on my fourth pair of shoes and I cannot even imagine walking one day of this journey in bare feet—let alone 51 days in a row before getting shoes. Incredible!

I walked into Carrollton by noon and found a fairly new motel about a mile north of town to spend the afternoon and night in. While shopping in the Country Mart grocery store the manager asked, “You walkin’ across America or something?” I told him what I was doing and he asked, "you like fish?” I assured him I liked anything edible and he disappeared to return with a huge Styrofoam container of cooked fish with no charge" written on the top--which I partnered up with a loaf of bread and several cans of corn for lunch and dinner. I simply sat out the rest of the day and evening in my motel room watching TV and eating fish sandwiches with my corn-from-the can. By bedtime I felt like I had actually had a day off, though in fact I had already walked a full Indian day from dawn to noon. I enjoyed my life of leisure so much I tried to add a second night (Saturday) to my "weekend off" but the hotel is filled up Saturday night with “old people coming back for a class reunion.” Thus I must move on .

I did get a call last night from Martin Augustine of KMBC Kansas City and he plans to connect with me for a story when I get closer this coming week.

Posted Saturday morning from the beautiful new Carrollton library which open seven days a week.


Blogger Keith.Drury said...

Having lost a second night of my "weekend" in my motel here in carrollton I shall move on... it will take two days to get to Lexington..probably on Monday.

Then another couple of days to get to Independance/KC --probably Thursday or I bet. It appearsd like a low front is on the way in (I'm writing this Saturday morning) so the rain will be a great blessing. To me after a few weeks of blazing sun some soaking feet and a soggy tent will be rewarding!

This means that I will take a week off before finishing the Kansas leg. I'm joining Sharon on her week of vacation this coming Saturday so I will then return to KC to finish the final Kansas leg the last week of June. Today is the Indians 52nd day (it is if the 1838 band has been with me). Yet today for me in 2006 is my 40th day. Taking a week off will olet them "catch up" a little closer to me so we can finish fairly close--two months each.
Upcoming villiages:
Lexington (Mail drop)
Kansas Line

8:47 AM  
Blogger Ken Schenck said...

Glad you sound a little more cheery. Since I missed your second to last mail drop, you'll have to eat the trail mix I mailed today on the plane! Sorry!

10:10 AM  
Blogger Jeanine Long said...

So, will there be an additional mail drop added for when you return? Like a final place we can send mail to cheer you on the "last leg"?

11:27 AM  
Blogger Jim and Jaena said...

Walking without shoes...I agree - incredible!

12:35 PM  
Blogger Kathy Drury said...

Great reports-- I keep thinking about the barefeet thing too-- and the cold just makes it even worse!

BTW-- the station is KMBC (and ABC affiliate in Kansas City) not KNBC (and NBC affliate in Los Angeles).

8:59 AM  
Blogger sassafras245 said...

Thank you Keith for the information and insight of your trip. I look forward to your posts and words of wisdom.
It's really hard to believe that the Indians wore no or they had wore them out in the earlier walking days shoes/moccasins. It seems that the pioneers of that time must have known of the Indians arriving in there area. As a Christian how many really helped them or did they turn there back as if they were a ghost of there imagination. Just wondering and looking at all that was going on at that time frame.
Have a safe journey.

10:53 AM  
Blogger KTG said...

hey uncle keith olny one week to and that is amazing about the indians with no shoes make sure you keep yours on. hehhehe hey also I am going to keep a blog whiole i am in israel(if i can get acsess to the internet) and here is the blog name hope your having fun


P.S. Hey Keith, I am piggy backing on Kayla's post. Unbelievable about the shoes, but I shouldn't be surprised considering some of the treatment of Indians during the Jackson era.
I like Jackson's populism but I can do without his genocidal white supremicism. No wonder their is a move to replace him with MLK on the $20.

Take care and be safe on your last week. Oh, BTW, I got some "superfeet" and they have helped. ;-)

Russ G.

4:19 PM  
Blogger Keith.Drury said...

KEN--I'll eat it on my way home
JEANIE: My home address is 4637 S Wigger Street; Marion INdiana 46953

JEANA: Incredibel isn;t it?

KATHY: OK I corrected it--- my cell phone won't work for the last 2 days...

RUSS: HEY!! Great hearing from ya! Yeah--want to talk more on Jackson when I return.

KAYLA: My shoes will make it to the end now--this pair (Pair #4)

9:10 AM  

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