Potawatomi Trail of Death - 1838 Removal from Indiana to Kansas

This new book was published 2003 by Fulton County Historical Society’s Indian Awareness Center, 37 E 375 N, Rochester IN 46975. Phone 574-223-4436. E-mail , Web page: www.fultoncountyhistory.org, Price $40 plus $6 shipping and handling.

Edited by Shirley Willard, Fulton County Historian, and Susan Campbell, Citizen Potawatomi Nation.

448 pages, soft cover, maps, George Winter pictures of Potawatomi on Trail of Death, Father Benjamin Petit’s letters, diary of 1838 Trail of Death, muster rolls, John Tipton letters, histories of Chief Menominee, William Polke, St Philippine Duchesne, biographies of Potawatomi families who have ancestors on Trail of Death, bibliography, index.

Find out the truth, authenticated with research in microfilm in National Archives, Father Petit baptismal records at Notre Dame University, death records at Sugar Creek, Kansas, and information from Indiana Historical Society and the artist George Winter, eye witness to Trail of Death.

Excerpts from Potawatomi Trail of Death book:

More than 40 treaties were signed by Potawatomi, more treaties than any other U.S. Indian tribe. There were Potawatomi warriors in many battles, both won and lost by the Indians. Some Potawatomi from the territory that became Indiana fought in the Battle of Fallen Timbers in Ohio in 1794. There were many Potawatomi in the Battle of Tippecanoe when Tecumseh’s brother, Tenskwatawa The Prophet, was defeated by General William Henry Harrison in November 1811. Potawatomi fought on the side of Tecumseh and the British in the War of 1812. Potawatomi were in on the fighting at the siege of Fort Dearborn (Chicago) and Fort Wayne in 1812. But 24 years later they were living peacefully in northern Indiana and southern Michigan, trying to be farmers and adjust themselves to living among white men. Many of them had been baptized by Baptist and Catholic missionaries. Some of the old warriors were still alive and were forced to move west in the 1830s. -- Shirley Willard, Fulton County Historian.

Kaw-kawk-kay (also spelled Kar-kar-kay) was an old and venerable chief. He wore a red shirt and no ornamentation. He leaned on a long staff, which was an ever necessary prop to his somewhat enfeebled person. He was not invited to the council and felt left out, no longer a chief but a dog, as he said to George Winter. He always walked, said he never rode a horse in his whole life. On the day of the Emigration setting forth from the grove at Horney’s mill near Logansport in the fall of 1838, the old patriarchal chief, leaning upon his staff, was observed making good time with those who were mounted and prepared for the long journey to Kansas west of the Mississippi River. -- George Winter, frontier artist.

“When we quitted this camp later, we left behind six graves in the shadow of the cross. We soon found ourselves on the grand prairies of Illinois, under a burning sun and without shade from one camp to another. They are as vast as the ocean, and the eye seeks in vain for a tree. Not a drop of water can be found there - it was a veritable torture for our poor sick, some of whom died each day from weakness and fatigue.” -- Father Benjamin Petit.

The Potawatomi loved the “good old lady,” (Philippine Duchesne) bringing her all manner of things - fresh corn, newly-laid eggs, chickens, wild plums, and sweet clean straw for her pallet. Every Sunday there were three or four baptisms and many of them are attributed to the constant prayers of Mother Duchesne, who inscribed their names in the register. The story is told that when they went to sleep at night, the Indians saw Rose Philippine praying and the next morning she was in the same position, still praying. Wondering if she really was praying all night, they put little pebbles (or acorns or leaves) on her long robe. The next morning the pebbles were still there, indicating that she did indeed pray all night. That’s why they gave her the name of She Who Prays Always.

The Indian Awareness Center was replaced by the Potawatomi Trail of Death Assn. in 2005. The PTDA is a branch of the Fulton County Historical Society, Rochester, Indiana.

To order this book, send check for $46 to PTDA, Fulton Co. Hist. Soc., 37 E 375 N, Rochester IN 46975.

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This page updated Jul 16, 2011.