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In 1838, government agents forcibly removed 859 Potawatomi Indians from their homes in Indiana and Michigan to a reservation in Kansas. Because of the many deaths that occurred on the ten week journey, the removal became known as the Trail of Death.

The first two sections of the materials that follow are extensive excerpts from a 1988 publication of the Fulton County Historical Society commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Trail of Death. The third and fourth were the work of Ivan Nunemaker:

Our thanks to Shirley Willard of the Fulton County Historical Society for giving us permission to use these materials and to Susan Campbell for obtaining that permission and preparing the text for the website. For updates on Potawatomi Trail of Death markers, see Trail Marker Map .

Potawatomi beaded 

1838 DIARY

Condensed and Edited
by Shirley Willard and Judy Cecrle

Fulton County Historical Society
Rochester, IN

The removal of the Potawatomi Indians from northern Indiana to Kansas took place Sept.-Nov. 1838. Nearly 900 Indians were rounded up by soldiers and marched at gun point for 61 days. So many died on the way and were buried by the roadside that it is called the Trail of Death.

The First Week

Thursday 30th Aug.- Monday 3d Sept. Twin Lakes, Plymouth Indiana. Gen. John Tipton captured Menominee's village, closed Father Petit's chapel, sent squads of soldiers in all directions to bring in & enroll Indians. Preparation for journey. Loaded wagons. Put 3 chiefs in jail wagon: Menominee, Black Wolf, & Pepinawa.

Tuesday 4th Sept. 21 miles, camped at Chippeway (Tippecanoe River & Michigan Road) in Fulton County. Left at Twin Lakes Chief San-ga-na & family of 13 because sick. 20 Indians escaped & took 2 horses. Roads choked with dust. 286 horses, 26 wagons.

Wednesday, 5th Sept. 9 miles (through Rochester, a line of Indians a mile long, sympathetic white settlers gave them hoe-cakes to take on trip. Little boy - 6 year old Billy Ward - followed his Indian friends a mile south of Rochester, wanting to go alone, but his mother caught him & took him home), camped at Mud Creek. Water scarce. 51 persons too sick to travel, left at Chippeway. A child was born & a child died. Party of 3 Indians joined us.

Thursday 6th Sept.-Sunday 9th Sept. 17 miles, Logansport, Ind. 49 of those left at Chippeway caught up. 4 children died. Mass conducted on Sunday by Father Petit. Physicians report 300 cases of sickness so medical hospital erected (note: at site of Memorial Hospital today).

The 2nd Week

Monday 10th Sept. 10 mi., followed Wabash River to Winnemac's Old Village. Left 21 sick behind. A child & a man died.

Tuesday 11th Sept. 17 miles. Pleasant Run (note: near Wabash River in Carroll County). Forage for horses expensive.

Wednesday 12th Sept. 15 mi., Battle Ground, Ind. Forded Tippecanoe River. $5470 of dry goods, blankets, calicoes distributed to Indians. Very old mother of We-wiss-sa died, appeared to be over 100.

Thursday 13th Sept. 18 mi., Sanford Cox & others rode out from Lafayette to see the Indians passing by, wrote sad description. Camped near La Grange, Ind. Drs. Ritchie & Son report 106 cases of sickness (note: probably malaria & typhoid).

Friday 14th Sept. 18 mi., near Williamsport, Ind. Sick wagons getting crowded. 2 deaths this evening.

Saturday 15th Sept. 10 mi., camp by filthy stream near Indiana-Illinois state line. Young Indians allowed to go hunting. 2 small children died along the road.

Sunday 16th Sept. 15 mi., crossed state line at noon, camped at Danville, Ill. Left 7 persons in camp, 1 a woman about to give birth. Whole country afflicted with sickness. 4 whites died in town. Father Petit arrived, got chiefs out of jail wagon, baptized dying babies.

The 3rd Week

Monday 17th - Wednesday 19th Sept. 6 mi., Sandusky's Point, Illinois. Remained in camp due to illness. The sick left behind yesterday caught up, had new baby. 3 children & 2 adults died. A child was born. Dr. Jerolaman assisted by Dr. James Buell of Williamsport.

Thursday 20th Sept. 10 mi., Davis' Point. Most volunteers discharged, 16 retained. Gen. Tipton left, Wm. Polke is now in charge.

Friday 21st Sept. 12 mi., Sidney, Ill. chief Muk-kose & a child died.

Saturday 22nd Sept. 16 mi., Sidoris' Grove. Heavy rain, exceedingly cold. A wagoneer discharged for drunkeness. 2 intoxicated Indians locked up.

Sunday 23rd Sept. 15 mi., Pyatt's Point on Sangamon river. Father Petit performed service before journey started. A child died early this morning. 29 sick persons left in camp.

The 4th Week

Monday 24th - Tuesday 25th Sept. 15 mi., Sangamon Crossing in Illinois. 2 children and 1 adult died. Indian men permitted to go hunting. Sick left in camp yesterday caught up.

Wednesday 26th Sept. 14 mi., Decatur, Ill. The physician is sick. A child died after dark.

Thursday 27th Sept. 14 mi., Long Point, Ill. Indian men procuring so much game that rations not needed, camp is full of venison.

Friday 28th Sept. 18 mi. Crossed Sangamon River. Polke promised Indians tobacco after going thru Springfield tomorrow if they present a good appearance. Chief I-o-weh in charge of clean up. Forage is plentiful. 2 children died during the night.

Saturday 29th Sept. 17 mi., McCoy's Mills. Indians dressed up to pass thru Springfield, Ill. Camped at stream with little water.

Sunday 30th Sept. 6 mi., Island Grove. A child died. A dragoon (note: soldier) dismissed for intoxication.

The 5th Week

Monday 1st Oct. 17 mi., Jacksonville, Ill. A child fell from wagon was crushed by wheels, will probably die. Late at night the camp was complimented by serenade from Jacksonville Band.

Tuesday 2nd Octr. 16 mi. Marched into Jacksonville town square where presents of tobacco & pipes give to Indians by citizens. Band played & escorted Indians. Camped at Exeter.

Wednesday 3d - Thursday 4th Octr. 9 mi., Naples, Ill. Spent 9 hours fording Illinois River. Able to wash clothes & make moccasins. 2 children died.

Friday 5th Oct. 12 mi., McKee's Creek. Subsistence: beef & flour. Had to hunt for water, found only in stagnant ponds.

Saturday 6th Oct. 18 mi., barren encampment we named Hobson's Choice. Beef & potatoes issued to Indians tonight. A child died this evening. Rain, cooler.

Sunday 7th Oct. 12 mi., Mill Creek in Illinois. A child died.

The 6th Week

Monday 8th - Wednesday 10th Oct. 7 mi., Quincy, Illinois. Steam ferry across river, entered Missouri. 3 children died. Permission granted to remain in camp each succeeding Sabbath for devotional services (note: attended Mass at St. Boniface Catholic Church in Quincy).

Thursday 11th Oct. 13 mi., Pleasant Spring near Palmyra, Mo. A woman died.

Friday 12th Octr. 13 mi., See's Creek. 2 or 3 Indians drunk & under guard.

Saturday 13th - Sunday 14th Oct. 17 mi., Clinton, Mo. Chiefs I-o-weh & Ash-kum arguing about Gen. Morgan's resigning. Judge Polke appointed to conduct Indians on to Kansas. Windy & dusty.

The 7th Week

Monday 15th Oct. 12 mi., Paris, Mo. chiefs demanded Dr. Jerolaman be dismissed, so he was retained for officers only. Beef, corn, potatoes, hay distributed.

Tuesday 16th Oct. 18 mi., Burkhart's Encampment. Water scarce. Health still improving.

Wednesday 17th - Thursday 18th Octr. 13 mi., Huntsville, MO. Snow & rain. Remained in camp. Indians were handed straw for beds.

Friday 19th Oct. 11 mi., Middle Chariton Mo. Indians anxious to reach their destination.

Saturday 20th - Sunday 21st. Oct. 11 mi., Grand Chariton River near Keatsville (note: now spelled "Keytesville"), Mo. Worship services. Apples & cider given to Indians.

The 8th Week

Monday 22nd - Tuesday 23rd Octr. 25 mi., Thomas' encampment. Crossed Grand River.

Wednesday 24th Octr. 12 mi., Carrollton, Mo. Distributed shoes to Indians. Intense cold on prairies. Talk is of trouble between Mormons & citizens of Upper Missouri.

Thursday 25th Octr. Camped near Snowden's farm. Town of Richmond's request for assistance against possible attack by Mormons was turned down.

Friday 26th - Saturday 27th Octr. Ferried Missouri River at Lexington, Mo. Much excitement over bloodshed, house burning, etc. 8 mi. Little Schuy Creek.

Sunday 28th Octr. Remained in camp. Ash-kum & I-o-Weh disagree, make inquiries about annuities; Judge Polke told what he knew. A child died tonight.

The 9th Week

Monday 29th Octr. 10 mi., Prairie Creek. Capt. Hull came with 23 Indians, left at Logansport & Tippecanoe. subsistence: flour, cornmeal, beef, pork, game of every kind.

Tuesday 30th Octr. 14 mi., Blue Ridge. Warm day, pleasant journey.

Wednesday 31st. Octr. 10 mi., camped 2 mi. south of Independence, Mo. Many Indians much intoxicated.

Thursday 1st Novr. Indians were allowed 1 hours for religious exercise. 16 mi., Blue River.

Friday 2nd Novr. Lost trace, travelled 25 mi. but are only 13 mi. from last camp. Now at Oak Grove, north fork of Blue River just across Kansas state line.

Saturday 3rd Nov. Reached settlement of Wea Indians on Bull Creek & camped by Bulltown, Kansas.

Sunday 4th Nov. Arrived at Pottawattomie Creek, end of our destination. 20 mi. Indians greeted by other Indians. Mr. Davis, Indian agent, absent.

The 10th Week

Monday 5th Nov. Pe-Pish-kay said "We have now arrived at our journey's end. The government must now be satisfied. We have been taken from homes affording us plenty, and brought to a desert - a wilderness - and are now to be scattered and left as the husbandman scatters his seed." Indians asked Polke, their friend, to stay with them & he said he would. An old man died.

Tuesday 6th Novr. Polke left, promised to return. Sick Indian family left at Bulltown caught up, 2 had died.

Wednesday 7th - Saturday 10th Nov. Polke paid off teamsters & officers.

Total miles travelled: 660.
Total deaths: 39.
End of diary written by Jesse C. Douglas, Enrolling Agent.

Scale of Distances

From Plymouth to Logansport 40 miles
From Logansport to Quincy 339 miles
From Quincy to Independence 213 miles
From Independence to Pottawattomie Creek, Western Territory 66 miles

Ed. Note: The original text of the diary stated that the total number of miles traveled was 618. The Plymouth to Logansport leg of the journey was not listed. Shirley Willard requested that the correct mileage be shown.

Potawatomi beaded 


List compiled and Researched
by Shirley Willard
Fulton County Historical Society

This diary is a compilation of several sources, the main one being the Trail of Death diary written by Jesse C. Douglas on the trail for William Polke, the federal conductor of the forced removal.

"Journal of an Emigrating Party of Pottawattomie Indians 1838," INDIANA MAGAZINE OF HISTORY, 1925, vol. 21, p. 315-336.


JOHN TIPTON PAPERS, vol. III, 1834-1839, Indiana Historical Bureau, 1942.

THE NEWS-SENTINEL, Rochester, IN., Sept. 4, 1838: "It Was 100 Years Ago That Indian Braves Left County."

POTAWATOMIS - KEEPERS OF THE FIRE, S. David Edmunds, University of Oklahoma Press, 1978.

THE PRAIRIE PEOPLE - Continuity and Change in Potawatomi Indian Culture 1665-1965, James A. Clifton, Regents Press of Kansas, 1977.

National Archives, Washington, D. C., microfilms of treaties and letters of the Indian agents.


THE PUBLIC STATUTES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, vol. 12, 1846: treaties with Indians of Indiana.


HOME FOLKS - A Series of Stories by Old Settlers of Fulton County, Indiana, vol. 1, 1909, Marguerite Miller, "Doings in Fulton County: by William Ward, p. 6.

Logansport, Ind., newspaper, 1838.

Records of St. Boniface Catholic Church, Quincy, Ill.

Quincy, Ill., newspaper, 1838.

Potawatomi beaded 


Following is a list of Potawatomi Indians who were forcibly removed from Indiana in 1838 on the infamous Trail of Death. The original roll is a yellowed document so faded that it can no longer be read or xeroxed, but Ivan Nunemaker of Wakarusa discovered that it had been microfilmed in the National Archives, Washington D.C. A copy also exists in the Indiana State Library. Nunemaker typed off a copy of the roll and gave us [note: the Fulton County Historical Society] permission to print it here. Nunemaker's hobby was typing and compiling books from the microfilmed records of Indian Affairs.

The number by the names is the number of members in the family. The name given is that of the head of the family, usually a man. It is indeed unfortunate that all the individuals' names were not recorded. Jesse C. Douglas was the enrolling agent who recorded the names. He was later editor of the Logansport Telegraph. William Polke was the conductor on the Trail of Death. His house, the oldest frame house in Fulton County, is located on the grounds of the Fulton County Historical Society, Rochester, IN.

[Note: not all of the names are listed here. After this list was compiled and printed, it was discovered that other names exist in the diaries kept of the actual Removal. For further information contact FCHS.]

9 Danl Bourissan
6 Lewis Burnett
To-pe- nay-hee
2 Oboro- wah-quah
8 Kee Sees
4 Kan- in-sa-quah
6 N Yok-see
9 Me- no-we-na
5 Mosa- so
3 Uy- mee-go
3 Nanst-Uery
4 Min- dan-min
4 Ma- nuak-see
4 Weew- Keesh
2 Mock- May
6 Match-so-Saw
9 Meche-pau
3 Socke-co
Shore- co-to
4 Mo Kah
6 Ohik- quen
3 Black Wolf
4 Pe- pee-na-wah
7 Sin- e-co
4 Black Indian
11 Pe- persh-Kay
8 Mug- quet-wash
3 U- Shee-kaw
2 uah- ah
13 Pat- ta-ka-tha
2 M chik-a-weesh
1 Po- ka-qurise
2 Ko- waw-unie
8 Miss- in-oquah
6 Mak- ko-sah
3 Ke- ne-geh
9 Io weh
2 M-go- quiss
3 Abram Burnett
5 Shaw- bo-way-tuk
4 M sull-quaw-go
7 Min- e-to-way-bee
17 Ash- kum
9 Lewis Bertrand
3 Me- ar-ko
9 Muk- saw-bee
7 Pem- chah
Po- quah and
5 M- ak-qui-to
5 Sharp-kuk
7 Ma- Mawk-shuk
7 David Marland
9 Me- chip-a-wash-ship
4 Waw- we-ass-see
5 Naw- sh-n eesh
2 Muk- Kuse
2 Keesis
7 Wa- ga-men-qua-go
2 Nuck- taw-no
4 Kau- rawt
5 La- man-kay
7 Francis Clawman
3 Opay- Bah
10 Ma- naw-shuk-quah
4 P- kish-e-no-quah
10 Shaw-quaw
10 Mix- saw-beau
6 ko- ko-cheesh
2 Le- le-oh
5 Kash- quah
4 Pah- ka-to
15 Me- shaw-kose
1 Maw- gook-suck
2 Au- che-to
6 Lew- taw-ge-way
3 M'sha-was
10 M'shaw bo
3 Po- muse
4 M- kaw-hoh-ke
3 Me cha bee qua
5 Kee- wee-nin
3 Uach e-sah
3 Paw- pee
3 Wak- nau
1 Mak- to-kah
5 Sauk- muck
2 Man- och-quah
Wa-pe- kawk
7 Pierre Londu
5 Uis- ko-pah
6 Ma- taw-keh
5 Wa- up-shee
4 Wawl- shaw
2 Lew- wobt-quess
6 Waw- ke-chee
9 Wa- go-mau-pe-tuk
3 Wawk- Shuk
11 New- us-me-nuk-shuk
6 Wa- wee-aw
8 Ratch-ke-ke-tp
4 Kum- mo-sho
3 Pem- to-que-chuk
3 N go waw see
5 Uiu- e-to-mah
3 Shav c aw no
11 Suk Kwaw Keet
10 Mcheequane kaw go
4 Shuk shaw
9 Wauk inmb
9 Qua guo
11 An- nu-wes-saw
1 Wa- ua-woh
12 O- sau-gee
2 M'shill, kaw, naw
7 Seu- ben-nin
5 Saw- ga-nay
1 Me an meck qua
3 O' q ur ch
8 Au- nine-kee
5 Min- daw-mine
1 Min- e-to-mam
10 M nie-e-nere-see
1 Laro- gay-nay
5 Pawk- shuk
1 Judo- gah
9 Pash- pa-ho
3 Quck- nah
1 Re- wy-mah
7 Me- shock-Koose
4 Uy- wat-sah
10 Ka- tish
13 we- said
11 Quash-Inars
9 Pam- bo-go

768 total

I certify that I have examined the above Roll and that the aggregate number of Emigrating Indians is correct. It was found impracticable, without great delay, and Embarassment to classify them as required in Form No. 18 of Regulations No. 5.

A. C. Pepper

9 Daniel Burisaw
8 Kei- sees
4 Kom- no-sa-qua
6 N,yok- see
9 Me-mo- ni-me
13 Black Wolf
4 Pe-po- nas-wah
11 Pee- peesh-Ray
7 Mug- quah-wash
3 M- shee-kau
5 Mose- ro
3 Wy-me- go
3 Naut- way
4 Min- daw-nin
4 O,Nauk-ra
4 Ween- keese
2 Mu-aw- quah

Thirty nine died on the Road
Two were permitted to return and
Sixty eight deserted
leaving our roll on remuster seven hundred and fifty six. Joined at the Osage that had removed themselves ( ) now seen hundred fifty six.

Potawatomi beaded 

From diary
Kept on Trail of Death, 1838,
by Jesse C. Douglas

Aug. 30 - Sept. 3 Twin Lakes, Marshall Co., Ind.
Sept. 4 Chippewa on Tippecanoe River north of Rochester (21 miles)
Sept. 5 Mud Creek north of Fulton (9 miles)
Sept. 6-9 Una Creek near Logansport (17 miles)
Sept. 10 Winnemac's old village on Wabash River (10 miles)
11 Pleasant Run (17 miles)
12 Battle Ground (15 miles)
13 near LaGrange (18 miles)
14 near Williamsport (18 miles)
15 by filthy-looking stream near Ind. Ill state line (10 miles)
16 Danville, Ill. (15 miles)
17-19 Sandusky's Point (6 miles)
20 Davis' Point (10 miles)
21 Sidney (12 miles)
22 Sidoris' Grove (16 miles)
23 Pyatt's Point on Sangamon River (15 miles)
26 Decatur (14 miles)
27 Long Point (14 miles)
28 few miles from Springfield (18 miles)
29 McCoy's Mills (17 miles)
30 Island Grove (16 miles)
Oct. 1 Jacksonville, Ill. (17 miles)
2 Exeter (16 miles)
3-4 Naples (9 miles)
5 McKee's Creek (12 miles)
6 Hobson's Choice (18 miles)
7 Mill Creek (12 miles)
8 Quincy (7 Miles)
9-10 ferrying the Mississippi River, leaving Ill., entering Mo.
11 Pleasant Spring near Palmyra, Mo. (13 miles)
12 See's Creek (13 miles)
13-14 Clinton (17 miles)
15 Paris (12 miles)
16 Burkhart's encampment (18 miles)
17-18 Huntsville (13 miles)
19 Middle Chariton (11 miles)
20-21 Grand Chariton River near Keatsville (11 miles)
22 Grand River (15 miles)
23 Thomas' encampment (10 miles)
24 Carrollton (12 miles)
25 Snowden's farm near Richmond
26 Lexington
27-28 Little Schuy Creek (8 miles)
29 Prairie Creek (10 miles)
30 Blue River (14 miles)
31 two miles south of Independence (10 miles)
Nov. 1 Blue River (16 miles)
2 North Fork of Blue River just across Kansas state line (12 miles)
3 Bulltown
4 One hour after crossing the Osage River in Kansas - end of destination at Pottawattomie Creek (20 miles)

A word from Susan Campbell, who prepared these materials for the website:

Copies of this, or of the more complete journal, are available from the Fulton County Historical Society, 37 E 375 N, Rochester IN 46975. You may also call them at 574-223-4436 to inquire about other materials. Again, my thanks to Shirley Willard and to Fulton County Historical Society for allowing us to use this information on our web site. Please visit their site for the latest happenings at the museum. And next time you're in Rochester, IN, drop by and visit the museum.

Tell Shirley hi from me!

Potawatomi beaded 

Muster Rolls
nIshnabe'k The People
bode'wadmimo speak Potawatomi
mzenegenek books
eagle aloft Tipton's Letters
Home Page: news & updates
nizhokmake'wen resources/help
BWAKA - about us

We welcome your questions and comments.

Text presented through the courtesy of the Fulton County Historical Society
Internet presentation and graphics copyright © Smokey McKinney 1997

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