Trail of Tears Steelville dedication

Submitted by Deloris Gray Wood, President, Missouri Chapter of Trail of Tears Association

The Steelville City Park and Recreation Area was Certified by Frank Norris from the National Trail Intermountain Region office in Santa Fe, June 2, 2018, on the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail. The Trail of Tears Site Certification was a National Trails System 50th anniversary event, in Steelville, MO.

It was the location of the Henry E. Davis Homestead in Sections 17 and 34 in Range 38N and Range 4 West that is part of the land within the park. At the time, the Ste Genevieve to Massey Iron Works crossed Mill Creek, now Whiittenburg Creek, at the 86 mile marker on the map, where H. E. Davis’s Homestead was located within a mile of Steelville.

The Henry E. Davis land is all that remains of the old homestead. Neighbors of Henry E. Davis included but not limited to: George Carpenter, James Davis, Azro Emory, Margaret Garvin, Francis W. Hance & James S. Colley, William Hudspeth, Joseph H. King, Samuel A. King, William H.Lee and Peter Whittenburg in Section 17, Township 38N, and Range 4 West; and Gary Hickman, Alsey Pulliam, James Steel,and Carter T. Wood were neighbors in Section 34, Township38N, and Range Davis sold supplies to the Lt. B. B. Cannon for the 365 Cherokees in his detachment in 1837. More than 10,000 Cherokee passed by this site.

Deloris Gray Wood, President, Missouri Chapter Trail of Tears Association, researched the site and proposed it for certification by the National Park Service and planned and led the certification event. She read related pay stubs to the area where the Cherokees purchased fodder and corn for the horses and fresh beef, bacon, and corn meal for the Cherokees from Davis and his neighbors.

From left: Deloris Gray Wood, President, Missouri Chapter Trail of Tears Association gets her Certificate for 50 volunteer hours researching the Cherokee Removal Story, from Frank Norris Historian, Historian, National Park Service – National Trails Intermountain Region; and Jenni Riegel, who was there representing Jason Smith, U. S. House of Representative for the Eighth Congressional District.

Kaylee and Max Riegel, children of Chad and Jenni Riegel, led the Pledge of Allegiance. Jenni is the District Casework Manager representing Jason Smith, U. S. House of Representative for the Eighth Congressional District.

Norris said, “This is an undeniably important historic place, however, it has taken Deloris and her sleuthing to be able to show to specifically be able to show why and how it’s important.”

“For a long time, we who follow Trail of Tears matters have known 15,000-pus Cherokees were moved against their will from the south Appalachian Mountains of George, North Carolina, Northern Alabama, and Eastern Tennessee because of the Indian Removal Act of 1830 told the they needed to all go to Indian Territory. They chose different routes to come this way and they formed 17 detachments. This road right here was by far the most important. They came up and along present day State Highway 8 and because of Deloris’s research we now know a number of them camped on this ground and we also know they bought subsistence rations. So, this is an important place, it was a key part of their movement west. It took three to six months for these various detachments to walk the 800 to 1,000 miles between the south Appalachia to Indian Territory. Steelville deserves to be recognized for its important role in history as part of the Northern Route of the Trail of Tears.”

Norris also said that Steelville, MO will be added to maps and potential interpretation and signs can be placed there.

The next site on the 97-Mile Road was the Snelson-Brinker Cabin (which burned July 4, 2017), then Massey Iron Works at the end of the 97-Mile Road where the Old Iron Road started that heads north to St. James to the St. Louis to Springfield Road heading west.

Dana Richter, President, Steelville City Park, welcomed everyone to Steelville and invited the guests to return and enjoy downtown, camping, and canoeing. The Chamber furnished a cake decorated Trail of Tears Cake and water, before a fierce storm hit the park.

Rob Cummings, Crawford County Commissioner, said, “This is an event that needs to be remembered because it’s a sad moment in our nation’s history.”

Coreen Donnelly designed the program and Wood provided the content with Dr. William ‘Bill’ Ambrose supplying the map.