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Mapping the Trail of Tears in Southern Illinois Exhibit

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Trail of Tears - Mississippi River

mississippi river ice

Mississippi River Ice

Winter ice added to the torment of removal as the Cherokee tried to cross the river. Many perished while waiting to cross the frozen river.

"Friday. [January 25th 1839]
We proceeded seven miles to the bank of the Mississippi River. At this place a sand bar in the middle extends probably half across the bed of the river.

We fixed our tent on the bank of this great River, one of the wonders of creation. We have long been looking forward to this river; and numbers who crossed the Ohio with us have not lived to arrive at this.

Saturday. [January 26th 1839]
Through Divine Goodness, we were conveyed safely over the great river..."

Rev. Daniel Butrick

Mississippi River Ferry Crossings

drawing of ferry Click Photo To Englarge

The Cherokee crossed the Mississippi River using both Willard's Landing (which crossed over to Green's Ferry at Moccasin Springs, Missouri) and Hamburg's Landing, located slightly south. They may also have utilized other landings as well. Willard's Landing was located just about due west of the village of Ware, in Union County.

drawing of another ferry Click Photo To Englarge

Use of steam ferries was just beginning in the West, and ferryboats on large rivers were usually powered by horses walking on treadmills. Some treadmills were set up so the horses went in a circle, others on an incline so the horses had to walk uphill.

image of ferry crossing Click Photo To Englarge

View across the Mississippi River from Missouri, of Willard's Landing, near the town of Ware in Illinois. Willard's Landing was one of the ferry landings used by the Cherokee as they passed from Illinois.

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