The Illinois Chapter of the Trail of Tears Association
The Illinois TOTA sponsored a bus tour across Southern Illinois from river to river for our second meeting of the year.
Two buses with tour guides for Pope, Johnson, and Union Counties crossed the southern end of our state where a small
group of Cherokee crossed in 1837 and then some 11,000 came in the sorrowful trek in 1838-39, where more died
on the Trail of Tears than any other state.
The first 2009 Illinois TOTA meeting was Sunday afternoon at the newly remodeled Morris Library on the campus of Southern
Illinois University Carbondale on April 26, from 1:30 to 3:30. Everyone was invited to come see what is happening at
the library, enjoy refreshments, and learn about the Trail of Tears through our region.
The purpose of the Illinois TOTA is to discover and share information about the 1838-39 Trail of Tears through Southern
Illinois and to encourage the development and preservation of the Trail. At the present time, there
are three general meetings a year. The public is always invited to the meetings.
Anyone with a story to tell about ancestors who dropped off the
Trail of Tears is encouraged to share their story with the TOTA. The Illinois Chapter has an ongoing oral history
project trying to capture and preserve these fascinating stories. Let us know if you have a story and we will be certain
you know the next time we have a program to collect more stories.
In addition to the three general meetings in 2008, the public was invited to the site certification celebration with
Joe and Ethel Crabb at the Crabb-Abbott Farm. Almost 100 people stood in the rain that cold January day to watch the
National Park Service and the Illinois TOTA unveil the sign there. Later the Crabb family fed everyone a wonderful meal
at the Dixon
Springs park kitchen and dining room. His family surprised Joe with a birthday cake large enough for that
The last 2008 TOTA meeting was at the Jackson County Historical Society building
located at 1616 Edith Street, Murphysboro, IL, on Sunday, September 28, 2008, beginning at 1:30 p.m. People were
encouraged to come share and hear stories by those whose ancestors dropped off the Trail of Tears.
The second meeting of the year was hosted by the The Johnson County
Genealogical and Historical Society. Gary Hacker was the presenter and told of his extensive ongoing research of
the TOT through Johnson County.
The first meeting of 2008 was on Saturday, March 29, at 1 p.m. in Harrisburg at the Saline County Museum.
This was another oral history meeting, and people whose ancestors dropped off the Trail of Tears in Illinois were encouraged
to come and tell their stories, and several did so making for a fascinating program.
The Illinois Chapter works with the National Park Service to certify specific sites of the 1838-39 Trail, which roughly
follows Route 146 across the three counties of Pope, Johnson, and Union. A few of these 11,000 people crossing
our state dipped into Alexander County.
Two officially designated sites on the Trail of Tears include Camp Ground Cumberland Presbyterian Church Cemetery and the
Joe and Ethel Crabb-Abbott farm in western Pope County. At the Camp Ground cemetery, Cherokee
camped at the traditional camping ground there before the church was ever established. At the Crabb-Abbott Farm, Cherokee
were able to ford the creek on their journey west. The farm is private land, and you may call Joe Crabb to gain
permission to see the Trail.
Directions to Crabb-Abbott Farm on Hound Ridge Road: To get here from the Vienna area,
or if coming on I 24, drive approximately 12.5 miles East on IL 146 to Hound Ridge Road. Turn right on Hound Ridge and
drive 1.5 miles to the farm on the left. If coming from the other direction on IL 145, turn at the intersection at Dixon
Springs to IL 146 and drive 1.5 miles West to Hound Ridge Road and turn left on Hound Ridge Road.
To visit the Camp Ground Church and Cemetery, if you are coming down I-57, turn right onto Route 146. Just around
the corner , is the well-marked lane on the north side of the road leading to the church and cemetery.