Thursday, February 05, 2009

The Trail of Tears through Southern Illinois

I just returned to Woodsong after a pleasant trip up to O’Fallon Library for a Trail of Tears Association board meeting. Four of us rode up together, and the others met us there. We laughed a lot going up and coming back, and we laughed in the meeting. Since we had not had a meeting since November, I think we were just glad to see each other.

The work of securing signage along Route 146, an Illinois designated highway; on the actual Trail in Pope County, which Joe Crabb has been able to document; and in the two rest stops on Interstate 57 has been slow and frustrating for the board members doing that important work. So it is good that they were able to laugh tonight.

We hope before 2009 is over, the signs will be up and these board members will know their efforts have been worthwhile. Brochures about the Trail of Tears are now in the rest stops after years of having no information despite being named Trail of Tears rest stops. It emptied our small treasury to do this, but we thought it was worthwhile to the travelers through our area to realize the historical significance of these hallowed grounds.

Although Harvey Henson could not be with us tonight, we received his report of his work with Vickie Devenport, also of Southern Illinois University Carbondale, and Mike Jones at the John A. Logan Museum at Murphysboro. Harvey, Vickie, and Karen Frailey have all worked together to create a traveling map exhibit. It has already been used at St. Anne’s Church in Anna in October and in November at the SIUC Student Center. The exhibit will continue to travel to other regional museums and schools.

Especially exciting is a special afternoon program and reception on Saturday, March 21, to be held at The General John A. Logan Museum in Murphysboro, Illinois. The museum will host the next “Mapping the Trail of Tears through Southern Illinois” from March 6 –April 19. . TOTA Board members will discuss the exhibit and various ongoing research activities related to the Trail of Tears episode. John A Logan Museum director, Mike Jones, will present a brief account of local Jackson County and Native American history related to the Trail of Tears account. Also, a special preview of Trail of Tears episode through our area of the “We Shall Remain” PBS mini-series ( will be shown at the March 21st event.

Of course, we were very pleased with the great plans Dr. Herman Peterson has finalized at the newly remodeled SIUC Morris Library on Sunday, April 26. Herman and another librarian Melissa Hubbard from Special Collections will share information on the archived Trail of Tears documents. The “Mapping the Trail through Southern Illinois” exhibit will also be on display at this our first Illinois Chapter Trail of Tears Association meeting for 2009. Possible plans for the other two general meetings this year were also discussed.

Certainly the Trail of Tears Association, The National Park Service, and the upcoming PBS mini-series have been raising awareness of the importance the diaspora had in our national history. I know of three other programs in our area on the Trail of Tears in March in addition to the one at the Murphysboro Museum. (Because I am speaking at them.) And John A. Logan College’s Life Long Learning program is sponsoring a two-week class in March on the Trail taught by Marilyn Schild.


Anonymous said...

Hello, I live in Oklahoma, my family came here on the ToT. My interest is family genealogy; there are some ancestors I have not been able to find out anything about except that they were from Adams Co. IL. They looked like Native Americans, but may have not known anything about their ancestry. Most of them went to Arkansas and I think MO from IL. The ones who went to Ark. eventually went to eastern OK and married into the Cherokee Nation. Could you lead me to someone I could ask where I could find more information about the Cherokee who went to IL? The name I am most interested in is 'Garrett'. There were quite a few Garretts from the GA part of the eastern Cherokee Nation but so far I havenot found a connection.
I would be most grateful for any information you could send me. Thank you.
Lynn Campbell

Sue Glasco said...

Lynn--So far we have not had any Garrett family nor Adams County family descendants show up for our oral history project to tell of TOT Cherokee heritage. If we do in the future, I will try to tell them of your inquiry.

Since Adams County is up in the west central area of Illinois right on the Mississippi River, it would be somewhat unusual (I think) for Cherokee who escaped the TOT to settle there. Mostly we have heard stories of infants left behind because otherwise they would have died of cold during the terrible cold spell in this area in December and January, 1838-39.

I actually have some lateral relatives named Garrett from Tennessee, who came to Jefferson County, Illinois, in the 19th century, but to the best of my knowledge there was no
Cherokee relationship, and their coming to Illinois was not related to the TOT. Good luck i your search.