News Release from Potawatomi Trail of Death Assn.
Fulton County Historical Society Inc., 37 E 375 N, Rochester, IN 46975.
2018 Trail of Death Caravan will travel
Sep 17-22, 2018

Since 1988 the Potawatomi Trail of Death Commemorative Caravan has been organized and traveled every five years by a group of Potawatomi and historians and interested persons the third week of September. The 660 mile journey from Indiana to Kansas begins immediately following the annual Trail of Courage Living History Festival, Sep 15-16, 2018, at Fulton County Historical Society grounds, Rochester, Indiana. The caravan begins at Chief Menominee monument south of Plymouth, Indiana, at 9 a.m. Sep 17 and ends at St. Philippine Duchesne Memorial Park, south of Mound City, Kansas, Sep 22.

Founded in 1976, the Trail of Courage honors the Potawatomi who were forcibly removed from north central Indiana to eastern Kansas in 1838. Forty-two deaths were recorded, mostly babies, children and elderly, buried in unmarked graves by the trail. Each year at the Trail of Courage a different Potawatomi family is honored, that had ancestors on the Trail of Death or signed treaties in Indiana. When Indiana became a state in 1816, this area was still Potawatomi Territory, but nine treaties in 1836 transferred the land to the U.S. government. These are called the “whiskey treaties” because whiskey was used to get the Potawatomi to sign, thus selling their land for $1 an acre. The land was then sold for $1.50 an acre to white settlers.

Besides the Potawatomi, the Trail involved several historic persons. General John Tipton, Logansport, was authorized by Indiana Governor David Wallace to hire 100 volunteer militia to round up the Potawatomi and remove them from Indiana. William Polke, Rochester, was appointed federal conductor and placed in charge at Danville, Illinois. Father Benjamin Petit, missionary who had baptized many of the Potawatomi, was placed in charge of the sick. He held Mass each day, buried the dead, and wrote a journal. Dr. Jerolaman, Logansport, went with them but lacking modern medicine, could do little against the typhoid that caused fever, sores, sickness and death. The fall of 1838 was a terrible drought, so the water was scarce and stagnant.

After reaching Osawatomie, Kansas, the Potawatomi were ministered to by Father Christian Hoecken at St. Mary’s Mission, Sugar Creek in Linn County. St. Rose Philippine Duchesne, an elderly French nun, served as a missionary to them 1841-42, praying so much they called her “She Who Prays Always.” She was canonized in 1988, and the former Sugar Creek Mission was purchased by the Archdiocese of Kansas City and made into St. Philippine Duchesne Memorial Park. That is where the Trail of Death caravan ends, in this beautiful park dedicated to St. Philippine and the Potawatomi.

For more history, photos, GPS locations of 80 historical markers and more, see

The Potawatomi Trail of Death Assn. will meet Friday evening, Sep 14 at 7:30 p.m. in the Fulton County Museum, Rochester, Indiana. They will eat together at Pizza Hut Friday at 6 p.m. and other local restaurants to be announced Sat. and Sun. evenings. Those going on the caravan will meet Monday morning at 7:30 a.m. at the Fulton County Museum to register and then caravan to Chief Menominee monument at Twin Lakes.

Interested persons can sign up to go on the Trail of Death caravan by printing out the registration form at and mailing to Potawatomi Trail of Death Association, Fulton County Historical Society, 37 E 375 N, Rochester IN 46975. There will be a $30 fee per person to cover expenses of organization, postage, and the PTDA newsletter. For more information, contact Tracy Locke, Lafayette, Indiana, cell phone 765-412-6694 or Also Shirley Willard, Rochester Indiana, phone 574-223-2352 or Also George Godfrey, Athens, Illinois, cell 217-636-8120, Also Janet Pearl, Parma Heights, Ohio, cell 440-666-7445, Also Rich Meyer, Millersburg, Indiana, cell 574-202-3920, or

If you want this news release in email so you can customize it for your locality, email Shirley Willard at

Click here for registration form.

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This page updated Feb 14, 2018.