Remembering the Trail of Tears

tony gerard as caleb tucker
Tony Gerard tells the story of Caleb Tucker.

Last Monday evening, everyone enjoyed Tony Gerard’s living history performance of Caleb Tucker telling his story of the removal of the Cherokee from their homeland in Georgia to Oklahoma. After leading a group across the Ohio River on a ferry into Golconda, Illinois the trek began across southern Illinois along what is now referred to as the Trail of Tears. Ice on the Mississippi River forced the group to wait at camps where they spent a cold and arduous winter. Only allowed enough time to grab a few personal items before being forced from their homes, the Cherokee did not have proper provisions to keep warm and dry. Many, especially the children, got sick and died along the way–hundreds were buried in unmarked graves. By the time the ice thawed on the Mississippi and they were placed on a ferry crossing into Missouri, Caleb Tucker had felt enough shame and seen enough pain–he quit. The next time you visit Trail of Tears State Forest or see a convenience store or some such arbitrary thing calling itself Trail of Tears this or that, remember there is a story behind that name as a reminder that we should never allow such a travesty to occur during our watch.

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