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Mapping The Trail of Tears in Southern Illinois Exhibit

Background 3

Various routes along the Trail of Tears used during removal of the Cherokee Nation. The brown region represents extent of Cherokee land just before the Removal. The Northern Route (dashed blue) passed through Southern Illinois during the fall and winter of 1838-39. Adapted from National Park Service, 1992.

Bad Weather Delayed Travel

“Southern Illinois has the most original Trail segments remaining of any of the states the Cherokee traveled through”

Jack Baker, National Trail of Tears Association

Ox Teams

The government provided one wagon with an ox team and six riding horses for every 15 people.

Conductor Richard Taylor's Detachment (#11) sent a bill to the U.S. Government for:

52 Wagons and Teams for
1029 persons from
1st Nov, 1838 to 24 March 1839
@$5.00 per day


In the fall of 1838, temperatures became cold enough to cause ice to block river traffic for at least a week. The Cherokee did not have adequate clothing and many were barefoot. Road conditions, illness and the distress of winter, particularly in Southern Illinois while detachments waited to cross the ice-choked Mississippi River, made death a daily occurrence. Deaths at the Mississippi River site alone were staggering as many of the bodies were simply laid on the frozen ground and covered with tree limbs or brush where available. Mortality rates for the entire removal and its aftermath were substantial, with estimates of 4,000 or more individuals, one quarter of the entire Cherokee population. The Cherokee came to call this march "Trail Where They Cried."


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