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 56 Prairie Creek --Mile 584
October 29, 1838

Today was a quick four hour/ten mile day for the Indians as they moved west along the Missouri River to camp at Prairie Creek (now Fire prairie Creek, East of near Buckner, MO). Presumably the day had started with a funeral. If the child that died through the night was under the care of Father Petit there would have been a Catholic funeral and he would have consecrated the ground where the child was burred.

The journal reports the food as "flour, corn-meal, beef and pork and game of every kind." They were eating better now. The Indians had gotten tired of flour and beef but now they had the added corn-meal along with pork and all kind of game. This may be a point to remind us all that the Indians probably hunted and gathered food every afternoon and evening. Seasoned backpackers might wonder why they walked only 4-5 hours on many days but the Indians may have spent much of the afternoon hunting, gathering firewood along with setting up their shelter so stopping by mid afternoon in late October was sensible.

At five o'clock Captain Hull came into camp with 23 Indians who had been left behind five weeks ago--the first week in Logansport (more than 300 Indians were ill there). This small party of Indians and their escorts had remined behind until they got well then traveled more than 500 miles trying to catch up with the main column. This may also remind us that the official death count (42) does not include the deaths of those who had escaped the party (more than 100) nor does it include any deaths of those who separated from the party and traveled on their own. The journal reported the condition of these 23 as "tolerably good health and spirits" but says nothing about any dying. My own hunch is there may have been a dozen or more other deaths among the escapees and those left behind or traveling separately, but I can't prove that.

AS FOR ME, my new companion, Kerry Kind helped the miles fly. Not only because of stimulating conversation by the because he insisted on carrying my tent making my own load lighter. He said he had two days to ruin his feet then he'd go home and I had to keep walking so he'd help that way. Since I still have a healing silver-dollar blister on one heal I accepted. What a great friend! We walked on along the river through the triple towns of Wellington, Waterloo, and Napoleon (I'm serious). We took a wonderful rest at the US Army Corps of engineers headquarters for Kansas City where I was interviewed for yet another newspaper story. We clipped along past prairie Creek and headed toward Buckner, hoping for a place to eat.

Today was only the second time I was kicked off the grass while taking a rest break. We spied a delightful shade tree near what appeared to be a pay-to-fish pond and both of us sprawed out under its shade only to be sighted by a woman 100 yeard away who said nothing but repeatedly gestured "move along" with her hands. We complied without arguing, putting on our wet socks as she stood with her hand on her hip gesturing each time we looked her way.

By dusk we arrived in Buckner Mo. just ten minutes before their Misty's restaurant closed. Kerry reminded me that if the owman had not shooed us away from her grass we would have arrived after the diner had closed. HA! Thanks Ms. shoo-away ladty! We both feasted on a meal I thought I'd never forget (though I already have by the time I am writing this down). When we had finished eating our meal (accompanied by the heavy scent of Pine-sol as they mopped the floor) it was almost totally dark. We slipped actross the street to the edge of town and pitched my tarop-tent behind an apartment building in a little playground. This sort of "stealth camping" seldom bothers people--coming after dark--leaving before sunrise. Kerry did not even bring a sleeping bag--he slept all night just wearing a thin jacket.


Blogger Kathy Drury said...

Your tent pitching is cracking me up in these big cities! What you have to do!

5:18 AM  

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