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Mapping the Trail of Tears in Southern Illinois Exhibit

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Trail of Tears in Johnson County - Bridges' Tavern

image of bridges tavern from early 1930sClick Photo To Englarge

This photograph was taken sometime in the mid- to early-30s.

image of the bridges tavern todayClick Photo To Englarge

The old two-story tavern building sat where the house (on the right) stands today. The old tavern burned to the ground in 1940. Remains of the old Wayside Store are enclosed by the white barn on the right.

Photo courtesy of Gary Hacker


The building pictured on the right was located in Johnson County, along what is now State Highway 146, about 6 miles west of Vienna. John Bridges is believed to have settled in the area about 1810, and at some point built the house known for many generations as Bridges' Tavern. The structure was considered quite magnificent in its day, and was a popular stopping place for early travellers along the old Golconda to Jonesborough Road.

John Bridges niece, Susana, lived with her uncle at Bridges' Tavern while growing up. She related many stories to her son of watching hundreds of Indians walk by on their way to their new home in the Indian Territories. Susana described how eager the Cherokee were to trade at the tavern and nearby Wayside Store.

In the locust grove, which Susana described as adjacent to the building, emigrants would park their wagons for the night, refreshing themselves at the nearly springs.


Sarah J. Ragains Bridges (Aunt Sally Bridges)

image of sarah ragains bridges

Photo courtesy of Special Collections Research Center, Morris Library, Southern Illinois University Carbondale


Aunt Sally Bridges was married to John Bridges, grandson of the first Bridges to settle in the nearby Pleasant Grove community and builder of Bridges’ Tavern. Aunt Sally undoubtedly heard the story about the Cherokee passing by and trading at the Tavern and Wayside Store from Susana, (niece of the first John bridges) and other family members. Many of her descendants living today still recall this same story being told to them by Aunt Sally.


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