Thursday, February 04, 2010

National Trail of Tears Conference to be in Illinois This Year

The fields surrounding the house are brown again, and only small patches of snow remain. The senior citizens day at the local Kroger’s yesterday was unusually crowded, I suppose because so many hesitated to get out over the weekend. The lure of the senior discount and very pretty weather brought us there in force. Parking was so scarce I had to make several loops before I found a place on the edge of the lot. A few parking slots were still unavailable because of the huge piles of snow from the lot being cleared on Saturday. Besides the parking problems, shopping usually is not quick because it is always fun to run into someone there I have not seen in years, and yesterday was no exception.

In the evening I drove down Interstate 57 to turn on to the Trail of Tears Auto Route (State Route 146) and just around the corner to the lane parallel to I57 that leads to the historic Camp Ground Cumberland Presbyterian Church. The lovely rural church building houses the more than century-old congregation, which still thrives when other rural congregations have died out. With its cemetery being a certified site of the National Trail of Tears Association, the congregation has been most cooperative in helping promote remembrance of the 1838-39 bitter cold winter when a number of Cherokee were buried in the field at the camping spot that preceded the establishment of the church.

Our Illinois chapter president Sandy Boaz is a member there and makes us welcome whenever we need to meet in their vicinity. With coffee smelling fine and her own home-made zucchini bread awaiting us, she welcomed us to the large comfortable (looked spotless to me) fellowship area, and she immediately apologized for some dirt still on the floor from the previous day’s use as a polling place. I always love to go there and feel the hospitality that characterizes this church.

Last night was no exception when our board for the Illinois chapter TOTA met to confer with the national president Jack Baker and our executive director Jerra Quinton to discuss and help plan the national conference and symposium which will be at Metropolis on September 20-23 this year. Jerra was up from Little Rock with her mother as a guest and Jack had flown in from Oklahoma City to meet with hotel representatives this morning to work out conference details. Also present were guests Mary McCorvie and Heather Carey, archeologists at Shawnee National Forest, who have helped so much with the cleaning the Trail located in Pope County on the Crabb-Abbott Farm. I’ve always wanted to attend the national conference and hear the exciting research being conducted by scholars and interested folk. This year I will be able to attend, and I’m sure I will be writing more about the plans as they firm up.

Returning to the farm through Marion, I debated a late-night trip to pick up the items I forgot to buy when I left my grocery list at home this morning. I decided I’d rather get home and relax than save (spend) any more money at the grocery. Gerald was still up watching the last of two ball games he helped win, so we visited awhile before retiring.

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