Fulton County Museum

Side trip - To visit Fulton County Museum with Trail of Death and Father Petit memorial out front and exhibits inside, go back north a half mile and turn west on 375N and go one mile. Cross U.S. 31 and turn into museum drive. In front of the museum, south of the main door, is located the Father Petit - Trail of Death Memorial. This memorial consists of 4 boulders and a sign with map of Trail of Death. (This memorial is not on the actual Trail of Death route.)

The museum has a special Trail of Death exhibit with mementos from each of the four Trail of Death Commemorative Caravans in 1988, 1993, 1998 and 2003. The museum is the official repository for Trail of Death materials and has 2 file cabinets, plus several shelves of books about the Potawatomi and the Trail of Death in its Reference Room. The Indian Awareness Center, a branch of FCHS, organized in 1983, published newsletters and took as its project to obtain historical markers at each camp site every 15 to 20 miles. The Potawatomi Trail of Death Association was founded here in 2005.

Rochester, Indiana - Fulton County Museum. GPS N 4106557 W 8614460

Notice the Father Petit - Trail of Death Memorial in front of the museum at the left end, the white sign on a post with rocks behind it. The museum was built in 1987-88 at the north end of 35 acres purchased by FCHS in 1985. The address is 37 E 375 N, Rochester IN 46975. It is located 4 miles north of Rochester on US 31. Turn west off the highway on the first road north of the Tippecanoe River, which is County Road 375 N. (Photo by Melinda Clinger, Rochester, Indiana, 2001.)

Rochester, Indiana - Trail of Death and Father Petit Memorial in front of Fulton County Museum. GPS N 4106557 W 8614460

The 4 boulders have the names of the states they are from and through which the Trail of Death passed: Indiana, Illinois, Missouri and Kansas, plus there is a boulder from St. Louis. The sign tells about Father Petit. The map shows the Trail of Death plus the route taken by Father Petit and his faithful companion Abram Burnett, a full blood Potawatomi, on their way to St. Louis where Petit died Feb. 10, 1839. After Father Petit's death, Burnett returned to Indiana with Petit's personal effects and gave them to Bishop Brute, Vincennes. Petit's chalice, which he used for Mass every day on the Trail of Death, is now in the St Francis Xavier Church, Vincennes, Indiana. (Photo by Shirley Willard, 2000.)

This memorial was erected in 1997 by Bill and Shirley Willard, Fulton County Historical Society's Indian Awareness Center, and donors of the boulders. The plaques are identical to those placed at the Midwest Jesuit Archives in St. Louis. The map and story plaques were designed by Tom Hamilton, Checotah, Oklahoma, descendant of Abram Burnett, a full blood Potawatomi, the close friend of Father Petit. Since late 1970s Hamilton has lived in Indiana at least part of the year. He now spends summers in Warsaw, Indiana.

The Indiana boulder was donated by Rex Bowen, Rochester, Indiana. The Illinois boulder was donated by Paul Quick, Danville, Illinois. The Missouri and Kansas stones were donated by Tom Moylund, LaCygne, Kansas, and hauled here by Bill Willard in a U Haul trailer behind his truck. The wooden post and stand were made and donated by Dan Peters, Rochester, Indiana. The St. Louis boulder was donated by Behle Materials, Florissant, Missouri.

When you enter or leave the FCHS grounds, notice the white house on the west side of the round barn. This is the William Polke house, which served as a stagecoach inn until after the Civil War. See separate page for picture of Polke house.

To see the next marker you have to drive south on FCHS grounds to the entrance of the Trail of Courage Living History Festival. During the festival, there are trams rides to take visitors from the parking lot to the festival entrance where admission is charged. You will have to walk back to the Hillside Amphitheater to see the Trail of Death diary plaques on the west side of the village of historic tents. These plaques are erected only during the festival and cannot be seen at any other time of year.

Rochester, Indiana - Trail of Death diary wooden plaques, Fulton County Historical Society grounds at south end next to Tippecanoe River. GPS N-4106557 W-8614460

This is one of the six Trail of Death diary plaques placed every year beside the Great Peace Tree during the annual Trail of Courage Living History Festival the third weekend of September. The words were edited and condensed from the original diary by Shirley Willard, Rochester, Indiana, and Judy Cecrle, Walkerton, Indiana, in 1988. The wooden plaques were made in 1989 by Bill Paxson, Logansport, Indiana. The Hillside Amphitheater can be seen behind the plaque. This edited condensed diary is for sale as a booklet in the museum. (Photo by Larry Prichard, Lynn, Indiana, during Trail of Courage Living History Festival in 2003.)

To continue on the Trail of Death, go back to Old 31 and follow it to Rochester, where it is the Main Street. A special Trail of Death historical marker is located there by the court house on Main Street (Old 31, also known as the Michigan Road).

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This page updated Feb 22, 2006.