Native American

Trail of Tears

In 1837 and 1838, Southeast Missouri pioneers witnessed a tragic part of our nation’s history. Thirteen times, through three different routes, the removal of the Cherokee from the eastern US was accomplished by passing through our area on trails that could barely accommodate the wagons, horses and thousands of people that made this Trail of Tears march.

Routes Through Bollinger County

Rations on the Trail

Each day the detachment leaders tried to issue rations of food for the people and fodder for the animals.   Some days were good.  Some were not. As can be seen by the following excerpts from  the journal kept by B. B. Cannon, Conductor of a party of Emigrating Cherokee Indians, put in his charge at the Cherokee Agency East, by Gen. N. Smith, Superintendent of Cherokee Removals, on the 13th day of October, 1837..

Nov. 16th 1837
Marched at 8 O’C A.M. left Reese, Starr and families on account of sickness in their families, also James Taylor (Reese’s son-in-law) and family. Taylor himself being very sick, with instructions to overtake the party. Passed thro’ Jackson, Mo. halted & encamped at Widow Roberts on the road via Farmington &Issued corn only no fodder to be had. 17 miles today.

Nov. 17th 1837
Marched at 8 O’C A.M. halted at white Water creek 4 O’C P.M. Issued corn & fodder, corn meal and beef. 13 miles today.

Nov. 18th 1837
Marched at 8 O’C A.M. halted and encamped at Mr. Morand’s 5 O’C P.M. Issued corn & fodder, flour bacon. 16 miles today.

Nov. 19th 1837
Marched at 8 O’C A.M. halted and encamped 1/2 past 4 O’C P.M. at Wolf Creek. Issued corn & fodder. 14 miles today.

Nov 20th 1837
Marched at 8 O’C A.M. passed thro’ Farmington, Mo. halted at St. Francis river, 4 O’C P.M. encamped and issued corn & fodder, Flour & beef. 15 miles today.

Southern Route through Arkansas 

Food rationing consisted of a handful of boiled corn, one turnip, and two cups of heated water per day.


Trail of Tears Beans

They are a black bean grown by the Cherokee in the Carolinas which had no name other than “bean.”  It was carried by the Cherokee along their journey as a source of food and a token of hope.  Once in Oklahoma it was re-named the “Trail of Tears Bean” and has been maintained by the Cherokee since that time.

In recent years the Wychee family who are direct descendants of Cherokee who made the trip in 1838 have made the selection available to collectors.   It has begun to make appearances in some heirloom seed catalogs.

Trail of Tears is a vigorous handsome plant, productive of many pods that are very tasty as a fresh bean.

As it matures the pods develop red and violet markings that turn into a deep violet by fall.  The dried bean is small, black and flavorful.  It is a wonderful foil to meats, particularly bacon and pork.  It is not as sweet nor as soft as other heirloom American beans such as the cranberry types but it is a fine culinary bean with a rich history.


Desert Rose Rock

Desert Roses form when water with high concentrations of Barite evaporates through sand causing the crystals to form in flat concentric circles reminiscent of rose petals. The crystals are usually clear or have white fibrous inclusions called spar, but in the formation of Desert Roses, will have the native sand as druse as the surrounding sand “sticks” to the forming crystal.

Barite roses are often red color due to the red sandstone they are formed in. Geologists think that these roses formed about 250 million years ago as ice retreated across the Permian Garber sandstone.

Today the roses weather from between the layers of the stone as a positive relief where they eventually free themselves and are found in the loose soil. Most of the roses measure from about ½ inch up to 4 inches with larger specimens over 10 inches.  The largest Barite rose that has been found measured 17 inches in diameter, 10 inches high and weighed over 120 pounds!


Cherokee Desert Rose Flower

When the Trail of Tears started in 1838, the mothers of the Cherokee were grieving and crying so much, they were unable to help their children survive the journey. The elders prayed for a sign that would lift the mother’s spirits to give them strength. The next day a beautiful rose began to grow where each of the mother’s tears fell. The rose is white for their tears; a gold center represents the gold taken from Cherokee lands, and seven leaves on each stem for the seven Cherokee clans. The wild Cherokee Rose grows along the route of the Trail of Tears into eastern Oklahoma today.