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MARION COUNTY AR
Trail of Tears Through Marion Co
Many thanks to Don Ott (firstname.lastname@example.org) for this information
Thanks to all those who have requested that I look at the Captain John Benge, Trail of Tears Muster Roll for names of your ancestors. I appreciate those who have expressed their appreciation whether or not I could find the names requested on the roll. To those of you who questioned my paternity because I could not find the names you asked about, I am sorry. Some have said they know their ancestors were Cherokee, and great grandma said they were on the Trail of Tears. I can only report to you what the official document says. Remember there were several routes for the Trail of Tears, only one of them came through Marion and Baxter County. Just a few facts about this group of folk and a little history that you can bounce off your "Family Tradition".
The 959 Indians and 144 Negroes were from DeKalb County, Alabama. Dekalb County is in the Northeast corner of the state, the beginning of the Appalachian Highlands which extend all the way into New York state. DeKalb County was part of the Cherokee Nation and the first white men came during the American Revolution. A British agent, Alexander Campbell, was sent into the area to arouse the Cherokees against the southern colonies. In 1777 Campbell made his headquarters at Wills Town, Wills County, Alabama a Cherokee village located on Big Wills Creek. This settlement was near the present town of Lebanon, Alabama. All of this was named for Chief Red-Head Will Webster. The agent was successful in arousing a number of the Cherokee's interest by promising them clothing and conquered territory in exchange for the scalps of white settlers. In 1816 the Presbyterian Church established a mission at Wills Town calling it "Wills Town Mission" after the Indian Chief who was Indian/Caucasian. The site of the mission is still marked by the gravestone of the missionary Reverend Ard Hoyt.
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Living in the same area during that time was George Guess "Sequoyah". After 12 years work he announced in 1821 that he had developed an alphabet for the Cherokee language, the alphabet contained eighty-six symbols. Each symbol represented a syllable. It was so well thought out that the average Indian could learn to read and write in just a few hours. By 1830 the immigration of settlers into the Cherokee country increased and friction between the two races grew. The whites wanted the federal government to buy the good land and move the Indians out. A small group of Indians led by John Ridge and Elias Boudinol, who were opposed by a majority of the Cherokees, agreed to give up Cherokee lands east of the Mississippi River. The Treaty of New Echota, signed December 29, 1835,
ceded the Cherokee lands in Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia to the federal government for a consideration of five million dollars and a joint interest in certain western Indian Territory. The nation's chief John Ross and a vast majority of the Indian population was opposed to this action.
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The treaty was enforced and federal troops were sent by President Andrew Jackson to transport the Indians westward. General Winfield Scott was placed in charge of these federal forces in 1838 and on May 10, 1838 he issued a proclamation to the Cherokees warning them that their emigration was to commence in haste and that "before moon had passed" every Cherokee man, woman, and child must be in motion to join his brethren in the far west. Most were forced out of their homes and lands with only the clothes on their back and what animals they could take. General Scott sent troops to several areas to build stockade forts and gather the Indians in preparation for the move west. Captain John Payne was sent to Wills Town Mission, Alabama where he selected a site just 200 yards northeast of the big spring. A stockade (and internment camp, only one in Alabama) was built by Captain John Payne and his 22 soldiers, called Fort Payne. Several groups of Cherokees departed during 1838 form Fort Payne with a guide provided by the federal government while others left under their own command. One such, under their own command, was led by Cherokee leader John Benge. They left on 3 October 1838 with 959 Indians and 144 Negroes. They crossed the Mississippi River south of Cape Girardeau Missouri and came down in Arkansas to near Batesville, taking the old military road through to the west. They passed through Baxter and Marion County Arkansas, crossing the White river just above Cotter during Christmas time 1838. They came up the Denton Ferry Road to Flippin Barrens, on west to Summit area, crossing the Crooked Creek just west of Yellville and on to Bruno area where they went west to Everton and on through Fayettevile to Talaquah Oklahoma, arriving on 17 January 1939.
Unless your ancestors were Cherokee Indians from the current DeKalb County, Fort Payne area, in and prior to 1838, the likelihood of them being on this roll is small. Many of the Indians from that area came up the Arkansas River on boats furnished by the government. Although the number of losses is greatly contested, generally it is believed that deaths and desertions took about 1 in 7 of the group that started from the east. I believe John Benge lost only about 33 to death and desertion and had at least one birth on the trip. Many of the names on the roll are Cherokee Indian names only such as Laughing Mush, Choctaw Killer, Young Ducks Widow etc. I hope this helps those searching for their Cherokee Roots.
A message was posted on the Marion Co list in response to the above:
It seems to me that I have read that there is technically only one Cherokee removal party that was considered the Trail of Tears. Many of the parties travelled with minimal loss of life and often under their own control as the Indians moved west. It seems to me to be almost disrespectful of the trials of those who were on the disastrous Trail of Tears where so many were lost to call all removal groups the 'Trail of Tears".
Don Ott Replied:
Lou, Thanks for expressing your opinion on the information I put on the Marion County Arkansas List. Since you gave your permission I will post your reply directly on the list. You and I may have somewhat differing views on what "The Trail of Tears" really is and who might qualify as being a participant. In my several years of study, I am of the opinion that the term (nu na hi du na tlo hi lu i) "Trail Where They Cried", could apply to all 90,000 plus Indians who were relocated as a result of the 1830 Indian Removal Act, passed by the U.S. Congress. This includes Delaware, Ottawa, Shawnee, Pawnee, Potawatomi, Sauk, Fox, Miami, Kickapoo, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, Seminole as well as the Cherokee. The Cherokee resisted and were among the last to be forced to move. They were removed from present day Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina ,South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama. The Cherokees lived in villages in the land of valleys, ridges, mountains, and streams and their culture was based on farming, hunting and fishing. This was their ancestral home. They were a fully civilized society, harming no one.
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The Indian Removal Act called for the voluntary or forcible removal of all Indians from East of the Mississippi River. When Andrew Jackson said to the Indians, "My friends, circumstances render it impossible that you can flourish in the midst of a civilized community.", this alone was enough to make most Indians cry. They in fact were a civilized society, living here long before those who were throwing them out of their homes their farms and their close knit communities.
Many of the Indians resisted and reluctantly agreed to move. They were living in the home of their ancestors, the only place they had know for all their life. Those who did not voluntarily 'hit the trail' were rounded up. President Martin Van Buren ordered the implementation of New Echota in 1838 and had the U.S. Army, under Gen. Winfield Scott, to build stockades and forts and move the remaining Indians to them immediately. The Cherokee were the main remaining Indians at that time who had resisted the move, Gen. Scott ordered the forced round up of about 17,000 remaining Cherokees.
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The Army process was swift and brutal. Soldiers arrived at every Cherokee house and drove men, women and children out of their homes with only the clothes on their backs at the point of a bayonet. They were placed in concentration camps where conditions were horrendous. Food and supplies were limited and disease was rampant. Intimidation and acts of cruelty at the hands of the troops, along with the theft and destruction of property by local residents, caused untold heartache and personal suffering. Finally Chief John Ross appealed to President Van Buren to let him and some Cherokee sub chiefs oversee their removal and he guaranteed the President that he would carry out the process. The remaining Cherokees were divided into 16 detachments of about 1000 each. Some went by water routes and some overland. Walking from Alabama to Oklahoma in the dead of winter certainly was not an enjoyable outing for the Benge group who came through Marion county Arkansas during Christmas time 1838. Estimates on the amount who died on this route range from 33 to 242. There were 1103 started the trip, where would you set the limit so that this route could be appropriately called a "Trail of Tears"? Where would you set the minimum limit of suffering?
Although over 4,000 Cherokees died, to me it is not that important as to whether a mother lost one or six of her children. Whether a father lost his wife, mother, father or just a friend, all of these humans cried in their heart. I have never heard in my life, anyone who tried to classify one act of removal as more brutal than the other. I have never heard of anyone who tried to put a head count on those who died, to qualify part of the removal as "Trail of Tears" and the other part as just an amble in the park.
I have worked for several years trying to get the Benge Route of "The Trail of Tears" nationally recognized and appropriate signs placed on the trail to memorialize those who passed this way in one of our nations darkest moments. My plans are to continue until this action is complete, I encourage those so inclined to help identify the route and to encourage the appropriate government officials to take appropriate actions. There will be a National Dedication of the Benge Route of "The Trail of Tears" at noon on 14 Sept. 2001 at Fort Payne, Alabama. I believe the term "Trail of Tears" has long been defined Lou and you and I probably will have little success in trying to change the meaning or definition
Just a few more facts on Captain John Benge's Route of the Trail of Tears through Marion County Arkansas.
Started from Fort Payne Alabama, 28 Sep 1838, arrived Tahlequah, Oklahoma 11 Jan 1839, on the road 106 days.
The U.S. Government paid $65.88 per capita for the removal costs. (They added the cost of three pounds of soap for every 100 rations at a cost of 15 cents per pound,) Total cost per person $66.24.
The U. S. Government furnished 60 Wagons and teams to Capt. Benge and 480 riding horses. Captain Page, U.S. Army was in charge of doing the head count at Fort Payne, Alabama, he counted 1079.
Captain Stephenson, U.S. Army was in charge of doing the head count when they arrived in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, he counted 1132.
Captain Benge reported three births on the route and thirty three deaths, no desertions or accessions.
Have acquired a copy of the "Muster Roll of Emigrating Cherokees Under Charge of Captain John Benge" I have strict instructions from the folk who own the original document that I may not publish this document, may not make copies and pass out nor may I post it on the internet. I do have permission to place a copy in the Marion County Library GenealogyResearch Center. I will do that in due course when next in Yellville. The document contains the "Head of Families" name of the 959 Indians, and list the number of Negro slaves with each family, a total of 144 Negros. I will do limited look-up of names for those who think they had relatives on The Trail of Tears, Benge Route.
Several names on this list that might have Marion Co. connections.
Have very little about these folk except they were on the roster of emigrating Cherokees, have an age bracket and sex.
A timeline of the Trail of Tears: The Indigenous People of the United States
Those looking for a map of the Trail of Tears go to: National Park Service Trail of Tears
Best History is found in Wikipedia
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Linda Haas Davenport