A pilgrimage from Indiana to Kansas
By Shirley Willard, Fulton County Historian

Sept. 26 Thursday - At 7:30 a.m. we crossed the Mississippi River on a high one-way bridge and gassed up at the second Ayerco station where the next Trail of Death marker was located. Gas is cheaper in Missouri, only $2.98.

Missouri has many Trail of Death markers and museums. The Missouri state legislature was the first state to encourage placing of markers for the Trail of Death as Regional Historic Trail in 1993. It took the 2013 caravan two days to cross Missouri.

This was Susan Estall’s 60th birthday. At Pleasant Spring Trail of Death marker she gave us each a book she had written: The Stolen House of Light.

At Palmyra, Missouri, Hardee’s restaurant erected a Trail of Death historical marker (boulder with metal plaque) by its door in 1995. So we always eat breakfast there on the caravan and meet with the local history group, the Heritage Seekers. They took us to visit Big Spring Park where legend says if you drink the water, you will return. They gave us apples and cranberry corn meal cookies made from a Blackfoot recipe.

Both Clifford and Josephine Gander have died since our last caravan, but we visited their farm, now owned by daughter Alice Gander. We enjoyed the lunch she served us in pretty red plates. We sat on the front porch and viewed the meadow and abandoned road where the Potawatomi marched by in 1838.

We drove slowly by the next two Trail of Death markers: See’s Creek at the Mt. Vernon Methodist country church and Old Clinton on the North Fork of the Salt River. Both of these markers were erected by Clifford and Josephine Gander.

We visited Paris courthouse where a Trail of Death stone marker is located, and their museum in the courthouse. Susan Estall and daughter Julianne left the caravan and headed home. Ralph Bazhaw did a farewell ceremony for them.

Going on to Madison, we stopped for refreshments and restrooms at Becky’s Cafe. Then we gave a program to Madison, Missouri, school, with 230 students, K to 12. Ralph “Two Hawks” Bazhaw, a Potawatomi living in North Carolina, is a storyteller. He told about the young man and the rattlesnake that promised to not bite him if he saved its life. But it bit him as soon as it warmed up and then said, “You knew I was a rattlesnake when you picked me up.” This is like tobacco. A little boy asked, “Does smoking really kill you?” Ralph told of his own cancer from smoking for many years.

We visited the Little Dixie Library at Madison also. There we met Joe Barnes, who led us to Moberly. He took us by Burkhart’s Station, an old stagecoach station.

At Moberly the Trail of Death historical marker had been moved. The previous location, a little roadside park, was closed by the highway department and the big boulder with metal plaque was stored in the highway garage. When I contacted them, they soon found it and planned a new place for it. Rothwell Park is used by students for ball games and an aquatic center. The place for the Trail of Death marker is beautiful in a circle of trees but it is a quarter mile walk from the parking lot, so they brought a golf cart to transport those of us not able to walk far. Dolores Grizzell, Winamac, Indiana, met us there as she was the original sponsor of the marker in 2000.

We ate supper at Funny Pages Caf, Moberly, and were treated to ice cream cones by J. W. Ballinger. Joe Barnes told more local history. The Moberly Monitor reporter ate with us and brought copies of the newspaper.

Super 8 Motel did not have rooms for all of us so some went to Moberly Inn next door.

Palmyra - Big Spring Park - caravan members applaud speech and refreshments by Heritage Seekers and mayor Graham. Seated from left: Ralph Bazhaw, Bill and Shirley Willard, Lois Bazhaw, Ginger & Bob Pearl, Jerry and Hildy Pearl, Theresa and Wayne McNary. Standing at right - Jon Bursaw. Standing in back row: Jo Hoogstraten, unidentified woman, Rich Meyers behind Jeannie Wamego Van Veen, George Godfrey, Sue Bauman, Dolores Grizzell in navy blue. I can’t see the faces of the others to identify. Please email if you can identify others. (Photo: Sharon Hoogstraten)

Getting a drink from the spring at Palmyra: Chris Osborn at left, Ginger Pearl, Bill Willard, Wayne McNary on the steps. At back right: Bob Pearl and unknown man. At front with back to camera is Carmelita Wamego Skeeter. (Photo: Sharon Hoogstraten)

Madison School program - George godfrey speaks. Seated from left are Bob and Ginger pearl, Shirley and Bill Willard, Jon Bursaw and Jo Hoogstraten. (Photo: Sharon Hoogstraten)

Cathy Wamego reaches up to students at Madison School, Madison, Missouri. (Photo: Sharon Hoogstraten)

New location for the Moberly, Missouri, Trail of Death historical marker. This was erected in 2000 at a roadside park east of Moberly but the highway department closed that little park. They moved the boulder with metal plaque into Rothwell Park where a circle of trees makes a beautiful site. George Godfrey speaks to the assembled audience, which is behind the camera. (Photo: Sharon Hoogstraten)
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This page updated Nov 19, 2013.