Old West Saviors

Potawatomi Trail of Death

Shirley Willard dedicated her career to make sure no one forgets it.

Shirley Willard dedicated her career to make sure no one forgets it.

Click image above for larger view

They were simply in the way, holding land that emigrating farmers wanted as their own.

So the Potawatomi were rounded up and forced to leave their ancestral lands in Indiana, then one of the most western of America’s 28 states.

They started walking in September, moving by 8 a.m. every day. Men, women and children—a few on horseback, the sick in a wagon bringing up the rear, but most on foot—walked until 4 p.m., when they were finally allowed the only meal of the day, cooked from the often-tainted meat and flour they had been given.

For two months, 859 Potawatomi marched at gunpoint from the wooded hills they’d known all their lives to the flat, treeless Kansas Territory. Forty died along the trail. Everyone else arrived in winter, finding no shelter, so they built wigwams and log cabins to live in. The only kindness they received came from those at the Sugar Creek Mission.

The year was 1838, but history doesn’t remember it for this Trail of Death, as the removal of the Potawatomi came to be known. The year is most known for the Trail of Tears that saw the march of 15,000 Cherokees from the Smoky Mountains to Oklahoma, with 4,000 dying along the way.

While students of American history are aware of the Cherokee displacement, the story of the Potawatomi has hardly been a footnote. Their plight would be forgotten to this day if a dedicated Indiana woman, Shirley Willard, hadn’t devoted her career to preserving its...

The full text of this article is available to registered users of TrueWestMagazine.com. Register now!

Registration is FREE and takes only a few seconds to complete. If you are already registered on TrueWestMagazine.com, please log in below.

Already Registered?

SUBSCRIBE today and save!

Get instant access to subscriber content on TrueWestMagazine.com!

When it comes to keeping the lore of the West alive, nobody does it better. True West readers get the no-holds-barred, straight shootin' facts about the West from our staff of experts and historians.

Save up to 67% off the newsstand cover price!

1 year (12 issues) - only $29.95
(Newsstand cover price--$71.88)

For even greater savings:

2 years (24 issues) - only $49.95
(Newsstand cover price--$143.76)

3 years (36 issues) - only $69.95
(Newsstand cover price--$215.64) BEST OFFER!

After subscribing, just come back here and register with us by clicking on the register link below.

JUNE 2014

True West Magazine Issue June 2014
Buy This Back Issue: June 2014

JULY 2014

True West Magazine Issue July 2014
Buy This Back Issue: July 2014

AUGUST 2014

True West Magazine Issue August 2014
Buy This Back Issue: August 2014

SEPTEMBER 2014

True West Magazine Issue September 2014
Buy This Back Issue: Sept 2014

OCTOBER 2014

True West Magazine Issue October 2014
Buy This Back Issue: October 2014

True West Site Guide

Mission

True West captures the spirit of the American West with authenticity, personality and humor by linking our history to our present. Whether you call it the Wild West, the Old West or the Far West, America's frontier history comes to life in True West, the world's oldest, continuously published Western Americana magazine.

Western movie fans, re-enactors, history buffs and road warriors, we got your history covered: outlaw, cowboy, Indian, lawman, gunfighter, fur trapper, miner, prospector, gambler, soldier, entertainer and pioneer. Check out these True Westerners now!
 

Product of the Month

The Illustrated Life and Times of Wyatt Earp

Wyatt Earp

"Your book is fascinating, coupling your powerful illustrations [and] tracking...from birth to Tombstone to the legend [Wyatt] had become;...even Wyatt would approve." --By Hugh O'Brian, of the TV series The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp

"Hands down the definitive books on Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday." --By Allen Barra, New York Newsday