People have a chance to see and touch an historic place on the Trail of Tears in Southern Illinois.
The Illinois Chapter Trail of Tears Association and Steve and Lisa Thompson will host a meeting of the Illinois Chapter at the Bridges Wayside Store that stands today on the Thompsons' property. A program about the old store structure and the Trail of Tears will be present for the public at the site. The program will begin at 1 p.m. on Saturday, according to a release from the association.
Several thousand native Americans, the largest group being Cherokee, were forced from their home lands in the Eastern States to Oklahoma Territory in 1838-1839. As they passed through Southern Illinois that winter the weather conditions were harsh and took a terrible toll on these people as they walked West. The trip became known as the Trail of Tears, and in Illinois this path crossed Pope, Johnson, and Union counties. Many perished.
Along the route of travel stood the Bridges Wayside Store in Johnson County, where they purchased foodstuffs. Long before and after the Trail of Tears settlers who lived in the area around the Bridges Store traded here. Today this log structure remains as possibly the only structure in Illinois that is still standing that the Cherokee had contact with as they walked across Illinois to Oklahoma in 1838-1839.
This is an opportunity to view the remains of this historic structure and learn more about it and the Trail of Tears. The Bridges Wayside Store on the Thompsons' property is located at 6980 state Route 146 West. It is located between state Route 37 and Interstate 57 on state Route 146.
Dress appropriately for the weather as the program is outside. Bring a lawn chair. Refreshments will be available. For details about the meeting or the Illinois Chapter Trail of Tears, telephone (618) 833-8216.