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Trail of Death

If you turn off the location and toolbar on your browser, you should be able to see the entire map at one time on your computer screen.
This map was adapted from a map created by Tom Hamilton for the Fulton County Historical Society, Rochester, Indiana.
Our thanks to the F.C.H.S. for their permission to use it.

"For American Indians the scars of injustice inflicted upon them in the past are deep, painful, and, tragically, are inherited from one generation to the next. Those injustices have become ghosts in the cultural memory of a people crying out for justice. We must fully disclose the past in order to deal with the many years and generations of unresolved grief and distrust."

Tom Hamilton

In September 1838 over 850 Potawatomi Indian people were rounded up and marched at gunpoint from their Indiana homeland. Many walked the 660 mile distance, which took two months. More than 40 died, mostly children, of typhoid fever and the stress of the forced removal. Their young priest, Rev. Benjamin M. Petit, S.J., also became ill on the trail and died at the Jesuit seminary in St Louis on February 10, 1839.

A third Trail of Death Commemorative Caravan traveled the route of the Trail of Death beginning September 21, 1998 at the Fulton County Historical Society museum four miles north of Rochester, Indiana on U.S. 31. Participants crossed Indiana, Illinois, Missouri and arrived at Osawatomie, Kansas, where the Trail of Death ended, on September 30. The Caravan visited most of the Trail of Death campsites. Many of the historical markers erected in 1997 and 1998 were dedicated as the Caravan passed. The group also visited Mound City and St. Marys, Kansas.

The Trail of Death has been declared a Regional Historic Trail through the efforts of the group that made the 1993 Commemorative Caravan. The required legislation was passed with the help of the four state historical societies and the state legislatures through which the trail passes.

Potawatomi woman - portrait by George Winter

A number of commemorative markers have been raised along the Trail of Death. Here is a complete list:




Logansport: Potawatomi Encampment on Trail of Death, on grounds of Memorial Hospital, State Road 25, north edge of town. Stone marker in hillside, erected by Cass County Historical Society in 1988.

Carroll County: These historical markers were dedicated on Sunday, July 12, 1998.

Battle Ground: plaque and map on boulder at Tippecanoe Battlefield Museum. Sponsored by descendants of Abram Burnett and erected 1996 by Girl Scout Troop 219.

Lafayette: metal sign on boulder on County Road 500 North between Morehouse Road and 225 West just west of the Mt. Zion Church, erected by Tipecanoe County Historical Association in 1988.

Independence: words cut into boulder at Zachariah Cicott Park north of town, erected by John Henry and Warren County Park board 1993.

Williamsport: metal sign at Old Town Park on Main and Old 2nd, erected 1996 by Phil High for Eagle project, and Boy Scout Troop 344.


Danville: metal plaque on boulder shaped like a tomahawk, located in Ellsworth Park. It was erected in 1993 by Society of Indian Lore.

Catlin: metal plaque on boulder on Catlin Historical Museum grounds. Erected by Paul Quick and Society of Indian Lore in 1993.

Homer (called Davis Point in 1838 Trail of Death Diary): metal plaque on boulder beside farm driveway on 1250N (Catlin-Homer Road) 1/10 mile east of 250E, 3.6 miles east of Homer. Erected in 1991 by Boy Scout Andy Chase as Eagle Scout project.

Sidney: metal plaque on boulder in Dunlap Woods Park on Dunlap Woods Street north of East Main Street. Erected in 1991 by Boy Scout Andy Chase as Eagle project.

Sadorus: metal plaque on concrete in Lions Club park. The marker was erected by Boy Scout John Housman for Eagle award in 1993.

Monticello (Pyatt's Point in 1838 Trail of Death Diary): wooden sign located on west 100 block of Bridge Street. Erected in 1988 by Boy Scout Daniel Valentine for Eagle project.

Sangamon River Crossing: near Monticello on Sangamon River, metal plaque on boulder, erected by Boy Scout Ryan Berg for Eagle Scout project in 1993.

Decatur: boulder with metal plaque, in Mueller Park on north side of Lake Shore Drive, across from Lake Decatur near west end of lake, erected by Zita and Bernard Wright, 1994.

Springfield: metal plaque on boulder, 5319 Oak Crest Road, across from the golf course. Erected by Springfield Chapter of National Daughters of American Revolution, 1995. Wauline Quick headed project committee.

Riddle Hill: near McCoy's Mills encampment at New Salem United Methodist Church on Old Jacksonville Road west of New Berlin. Engraved stone erected 1996 by Rainbow Dancers Pow Wow.

Island Grove: at Robert Hitt farm driveway on Old Jacksonville Road on north side of highway a half mile west of Island Grove Cemetery and church. Engraved stone erected 1996 by Rainbow Dancers Pow Wow.

Jacksonville: metal plaque on granite monument in town square. Erected 1993 by Morgan County Historical Society, president Vern Fernandes.

Exeter: metal plaque on granite monument in town park. The marker was erected by Mayor Roger Lovelace and Exeter people in 1993.

Naples A new historical marker was dedicated on September 26, 1998.

Liberty A new historical marker was dedicated on Sept. 26, 1998. The campsite was called Hobson's Choice in the Trail of Death diary, since it was barren of everything but grass, brush and weeds. The reference is to a famous line by Thomas Ward, a contemporary of William Shakespeare: "When to elect there is but one, 'Tis Hobson's Choice; take that or none."

Mill Creek A new historical marker was dedicated on September 26, 1998.

Quincy: boulder with metal plaque, in front of St. Boniface Church, 117 N. 7th st., erected 1995 by descendants of Theresa Slavin, a little girl on the Trail of Death. Potawatomi attended Mass there in 1838 on Trail of Death. Jerry Pearl hauled the boulder from family farm at St. Marys, Kansas.


Palmyra: metal plaque on boulder, south side of Hardee's Restaurant, 500 E. Main Cross Street, on west side of I-61, erected by Hardee's's owners Spike and Stan Ehrhardt in 1995.

Paris: metal plaque on cement (flat on ground) by Monroe County courthouse, sponsored by Monroe County Historical Society and paid for by Lee and Vesta Boyland as donation. Erected in 1988.

Huntsville: on courthouse square, erected 1997 by Huntsville Historical Society.

Keytesville: in Sterling Price Park, boulder donated by Harvey and Juanita Grotjan, plaque donated by Kalene and Rick Summerville, Berry Funeral Parlor, erected 1993.

Independence: words cut in stone monument in Pioneer Spring Park. The marker was erected by Boy Scout Matt Moreno for Eagle project with assistance by Maryann Bell, Regional Representative of Citizen Potawatomi Nation, erected in 1993.

St. Louis Trail of Death and Father Benjamin Petit memorial at Midwestern Jesuit Archives, 4511 West Pine Blvd. Erected 1998 by Father William B. Faherty of Midwestern Jesuit Archives and Howard Kline in memory of his Potawatomi grandfather, Adam Fox. Two plaques (map and story) designed by Tom Hamilton, descendant of Abram Burnett who accompanied Father Petit from Kansas to St. Louis, where Father Petit died.


Paola (called Bulltown in 1838 Trail of Death diary): metal plaque on flat cement square slightly raised off the ground in Park Square, northeast of fountain. Erected 1995 by Miami County Historical Society. Bernice Stephenson headed committee.

Osawatomie: boulder with metal plaque in front of Old Land Office on north 6th Street, erected 1995 by Osawatomie Historical Society and Ron Morris, Boy Scout. Marilyn Mullins headed the project committee.

Centerville: St. Philippine Duchesne Memorial Park at former St. Mary's Sugar Creek Mission on Keokuk Road 5.5 miles west of Highway 7. Located 3 miles south of Centerville or 20 miles south of Osawatomie. This is a 450 acre Catholic retreat. The Potawatomi who survived the Trail of Death went from Osawatomie to St Mary's and lived there for the next 10 years. Sister Philippine Duchesne, who taught the Potawatomi, became known as "she who prays always," and was canonized in 1988. A big circular altar and 30 ft. tall metal cross were erected in 1988. Also 14 Stations of the Cross, many religious pictures made in stone, and wooden signs telling about the Indian People are in place. The walls of the log buildings are outlined by white stones, including the chapel, school, and dormitories for both boys and girls. Father Robert Pool, formerly of St. Phillip Neri Church, Osawatomie, was in charge of these memorial projects. There are four Trail of Death markers at the park, all erected by Bob White and other Catholics and volunteers.

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

Copyright © Smokey McKinney 1998

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