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Priscilla on The Trail of Tears

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Trail of Tears Association

Because of life's difficulties, I have not announced meetings of the Illinois Chapter of the National Trail of Tears Association for many years. I will try to post information on 2015 meetings as I receive it in the chapter newsletter.

You can always find out information on the Trail or on the Illinois Chapter of the National Trail of Tears Association by calling Sandy Boaz (Mrs. Dwight) of rural Anna. Sandy is probably the most knowledgeable person in the region on the history of the Trail through Southern Illinois.

The Illinois Chapter of the National Trail of Tears Association meets three times a year.  The purpose 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.  The public is always invited to the meetings.

You may be interested in previous meetings of the Illinois Chapter.  We invite you to join our chapter of the national organization.  Public is always welcome at all Illinois Chapter of TOTA functions. 

First meeting in 2010 was at Vienna Library with the Johnson County .  Dr. Herman Peterson spoke on his story of finding out about his Cherokee ancestors. The National Park Service's new video on the Trail of Tears was also shown. Delicious refreshments were served by the Johnson County Historical and Genealogical Society.

The Illinois Trail of Tears Association intends to meet three times a year.  However, in 2009, the third meeting was unable to be scheduled as it was to be a celebration of new signage in Pope County and some delay made it impossible to have that meeting.  The signs are up now, and you can get a Pope County brochure directing you to follow these signs at the Trail of Tears Welcome Centers on Interstate-57.  This is a wonderful Saturday or Sunday afternoon drive.
The second meeting in 2009 was June 13 and featured  a bus tour from the Ohio River to the Mississippi River on the Trail of Tears through Southern Illinois.  Two buses were used, and guides for Pope, Johnson, and Union Counties were on each bus.  A wonderful lunch was catered at the Vienna Park midway through the tour.
The first 2009 meeting of the Illinois Trail of Tears
Association was at the newly remodeled Morris Library on the campus of Southern Illinois University Carbondale on Sunday afternoon, April 26.  Dr. Herman Peterson arranged for a program on the Special Collections section of the library featuring materials about the TOT through Southern Illinois.  Delicious refreshments were served.
 The last  meeting of 2008 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. 
Meetings in  2008:

The first TOTA meeting of the Illinois Chapter in 2008 was at 1600 Feazel Street in Harrisburg on Saturday, March 29, at 1 p.m. at the Saline County Museum.  The program was a continuation of the oral history project.  Area residents were encouraged to come and share their family stories if they had ancestors who dropped off the TOT in Illinois.  What a wonderful collection of stories we were able to record that day.  We also were able to copy a 1855 newspaper account by a Col. Benton reflecting the attitude of many whites of that time.  The museum itself filled with books, furniture, and artifacts is in the old poor house, but the  complex includes a former Quaker church building, the Chenault country school house, and a log cabin.  It was gratifying to find out that the complex came about because of the hard work and efforts of the late John Allen, who recorded so much history in his books Legends and Lore of Southern Illinois and It Happened in Southern Illinois, both published and still available at the Southern Illinois University Press.

The second 2008 meeting of the Illinois Chapter of the Trail of Tears Association was Sunday, May 18, at the Vienna Public Library on the square in Vienna.  The Johnson County Historical Society hosted the meeting in their downstairs meeting room there.  Gary Hacker presented on his ongoing research of the Trail through Johnson County. 



Crabb-Abbott Farm Certified in 2008
An official site certification ceremony at the Joe and Ethel Crabb-Abbott farm in Johnson County was held Tuesday afternoon, January 8, 2008. 
Over eighty people gathered on a cold rainy day to see the unveiling of the signage on the roadside there on the farm where Joe and Ethel Crabb live.  Afterwards the Crabb family invited everyone over the the kitchen/dining room at Dixon Springs State Park and served a bountiful meal to all of us.  Their children surprised Joe with a well-lit birthday cake in honor of his 80th birthday.  
The site where Cherokee were able to ford the creek on their journey west is on private land, so you will need to phone Joe and Ethel to make arrangements if you want to hike down to the creek.
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.

Can you share a Trail of Tears story about your family?
The Illinois Chapter of the Trail of Tears Association has started an oral history project trying to save family stories of descendants of those who dropped off the Trail of Tears in Illinois. 
If you have a story, please contact a TOTA member and let us arrange to video your story.  Dwight Boaz first recorded stories of those attending the April 14, 2007, TOTA meeting.  It is hoped  that this first effort produces an ongoing collection of oral history helping us to appreciate the historic legacy in our area associated with the Trail.

Three 2007 Meetings of the Illinois Chapter TOTA:
The first 2007 meeting of the Illinois Trail of Tears Association  was a very special event. 
People were encouraged to come and share their family stories about the Trail of Tears.  At every TOTA meeting, there are people who have descended from Cherokee that for one reason or another had to drop off from the Trail in Southern Illinois.  We need to collect and save these priceless family stories. 
Our initial effort to record this oral history took place at our April 14 TOTA meeting at Camp Ground Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Union County.  That Saturday afternoon the public was encouraged to bring letters, documentation, diaries, handed-down oral history, etc. to share in the church sanctuary.  Copy facilities were available for sharing with TOTA.  (No one had to leave material behind.)  For anyone too shy to share publicly, there was the option of a private interview in a classroom. Dwight Boaz recorded by video those who agreed, and the audience listened with fascination at the stories shared.   
Harvey Henson of Southern Illinois University Carbondale and some of his students were  also at the cemetery grounds demonstrating a non-invasive way to discover burial sites.  The Camp Ground cemetery and church grounds are a certified site where many Cherokee camped on the Trail.  Oral tradition has allowed us to know of the burial there in unmarked graves of those who died in that area of the Trail. 
There were displays and information to browse.  The Camp Ground Church outdid themselves with warm hospitality and delicious refreshments for those attending.
The summer TOTA meeting was held in Chicago at the Newberry Library in the Towner's Lounge on Saturday, June 23.   
The final TOTA meeting of 2007 was Saturday, October 6,  at Golconda, where many of the Cherokee entered our state crossing over the Ohio River from Kentucky.  Tony Gerard presented his one-man drama about the Trail.