6. The Trail of Death Corridor / Microcosm of a Conflicted Landscape

A) The Racialized Landscape

Awareness of my own privilege has grown with this story. I'm white. Male. Heterosexual. And 13 inches taller than the average white, heterosexual, American male. Except for my height, I fit in here. Because of this, it's easy to take for granted the security that I feel - the fear that I don't feel - as I ply lonely country roads, cut across fields, and indiscriminately snap photos.


Census 2000

Homer Village >>
Total Population = 1200
White = 1193 (98.8%)
Black = 1 (0.1%)
American Indian = 0
Asian = 6 (0.5%)
Hispanic or Latino = 3 (0.3%)

Sadorus Village >>
Total Population = 426
White = 418 (98.1%)
Black = 0
American Indian = 1 (0.2%)
Asian = 0
Hispanic or Latino = 0

Sidney Village >>
Total Population = 1062
White = 1037 (97.6%)
Black = 4 (0.4%)
American Indian = 3 (0.3%)
Asian = 3 (0.3%)
Native Hawaiian = 5 (0.5%)
Hispanic or Latino = 4 (0.4%)


B) Norfolk Southern Railroad

I was copied on an email in which you indicated that as part of the planned Walking as Knowing symposium you would be walking along the NS Railroad. Have you contacted the railroad about that? Walking on railroad row is a) trespassing, and b) VERY dangerous. It is particularly dangerous in this case because this NSRR lined is a high density, high-speed route. I would be surprised if the railroad permitted it. I hope you are planning to confine the walk to parallel public road row.

Frank DiNovo
Director, Planning & Community Development
Champaign County Regional Planning Commission


"Radioactive Roads And Rails: Hauling Nuclear Waste Through Our Neighborhoods"

The Bush administration has decided to press ahead with a plan to store much of the nation's nuclear waste in Yucca Mountain, Nevada. Yucca Mountain is located approximately 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas. The bulk of America's nuclear waste is generated and located east of the Mississippi - at the opposite end of the country from Nevada. This means that highly radioactive waste would be hauled across the country - through towns, communities and neighborhoods - on the way to Yucca Mountain.


"New Proposal to Test Safety of Nuclear Waste Transportation Containers Meets with Skepticism; Groups Urge NRC to Strengthen Cask Testing Program"

According to the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) environmental impact statement, Illinois will be heavily impacted by transportation of spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste to Yucca Mountain. In addition to shipments from Illinois reactors, the state would be traversed by shipments from almost all the commercial reactors east of the Mississippi River, plus shipments from DOE facilities in New York and South Carolina.

During the first 24 years of Yucca Mountain's operations, the DOE would make either 8,000 rail and truck shipments or 39,000 truck shipments through Illinois. Over 38 years, the DOE could make either 16,000 rail and truck shipments or more than 69,000 truck shipments, through the state.


C) Stories of Denial

I spent a day in Villa Grove, Illinois, south of Champaign-Urbana.... [U]ntil recent years Villa Grove had sounded a whistle at 6pm every evening to warn African Americans to get out of town. My last interview of the day was with the editor of Villa Grove's weekly newspaper....

"Hello, I'm Jim Loewen. I grew up over in Decatur, and now I'm doing research on all-white towns that are all-white on purpose, including this one."

The editor nodded.

"I understand you have, or used to have until recently, a whistle on your water tower that went off every evening at 6pm."

"Yes," he agreed.

"Tell me the story about that whistle," I asked.

"I don't know any story about that whistle," he replied.

"OK," I said, and started to make my farewell. Nine of eleven interviewees had already confirmed the story, and I saw no reason to question him further.

As I turned to leave, his secretary asked me, "You mean the story that that was the signal for blacks to be out of town?"

I nodded and replied, "Yes, that story."

"I never heard that story!" she said. (204)

Sundown Towns (2005)
Jim Loewen


D) The Trail of Death

In August, 1838, the Indians at Twin Lakes were taken unawares and herded together by John Tipton and volunteer militia, chiefly from Cass County, and, with the exception of a few who temporarily escaped, were escorted to Danville, Illinois. There they were turned over to William Polke, who conducted them the rest of the way across Illinois, Missouri, and part of eastern Kansas, to their future reservation in the neighborhood of the Osage River.

Father Petit, the indefatigable Catholic missionary among the Indians of northern Indiana and southern Michigan, learning of the forced departure of this group of his charges, hurried after the band, and continued his ministrations until they reached their destination.

Thursday, 20th September [Homer]

At 3 o'clock we were up and busily preparing the discharge of the volunteers. At sun rise they were mustered and marched to Head Quarters, where, after being addressed for a few moments by the General in command, they were discharged and paid off. Sixteen of the mounted volunteers, upon a requisition of the Conductor of the emigration were retained in service and are now under the immediate charge of Ensign Smith. At 9 o'clk. a few hours before which an elderly woman died, we prepared for our march. We left the camp at half past 9, and reached our present encampment at about 2 P.M. During the march of the party, Gen. Tipton who has heretofore been in command of the volunteers, and superintended the removal of the present emigration, took his leave, and left us in charge of the Conductor, Wm. Polke, Esq. While on the march a child died on horseback. A death has also occurred since we came into camp this Evening. We are now encamped at Davis's Point, a distance of ten miles from the camp ground of yesterday. To-morrow we expect to reach Sidney, which is reported to be a good watering place.

Friday, 21st September [Sidney]

Left Davis's encampment at half-past 9. At a little before 2 we reached Sidney, near the spot selected for encampment. The health of the Indians is the same - scarcely a change - the worst of the cases in most persons proves fatal. Physician reports for yesterday, "their condition somewhat better. There are yet fifty sick in camp - three have died since my last." The farther we get into the prairie the scarcer becomes water. Our present encampment is very poorly watered, and we are yet in the vicinity of timber. A child died since we came into camp. This morning before we left the Encampment of last night, a chief, Muk-Kose, a man remarkable for his honesty and integrity, died after a few days' sickness. Distance traveled to-day 12 miles. Forage not so scarce as a few days ago. Bacon we occasionally procure - beef and flour, however constitute our principal subsistence.

Saturday, 22nd Sept. [Sadorus]

At 8 o'clock we left our Encampment, and entered the Prairie at Sidney. The day was exceedingly cold. The night previous had brought us quite a heavy rain, and the morning came in cold and blustery. Our journey was immediately across the Prairie, which at this point is entirely divested of timber for sixteen miles. The emigrants suffered a good deal, but still appeared to be cheerful. The health of the camp continues to improve - not a death has occurred to-day, and the cool bracing weather will go far towards recruiting the health of the invalids. A wagoner was discharged to-day for drunkenness. Dissipation is almost entirely unknown in the camp. To-night, however, two Indians were found to have possessed themselves of liquor, and become intoxicated. They were arrested and put under guard. Some six or eight persons were left at Davis's Point this morning, for want of the means of transportation. They came in this evening. We are at present encamped at Sidoris's Grove, sixteen miles distant from Sidney. Water quite scarce.

The Trail of Death: Letters of Benjamin Marie Petit (1925)
Irving McKee


September 3, 1838

To the Honourable General Tipton

General I received yesterday your letter dated 2nd September, to which I give to day the answer which you requested me to give you. It is not the least of the world in my power to satisfy those whom you call the dissentients, and to harmonise the whole matter, because it is not let to my choice to go, or not to go West. I am under the dependance of my Bishop and at his disposal, as much at least as any soldier of your troops is at your disposal; I wrote to him for the subject of being allowed to follow the Indians, in the case, that most of them would be willing to emigrate; I received a full denial of my request; of course I must not think any more of going West.

Was I at liberty to go or not to go, though I had no personal objection, in the case the Indians would be willing to go, it would be repugnant and hard to me to associate in any way to the unaccountable measures lately taken for the removal of the Indians. You had right perhaps, if duly authorized, to take possession of the land, but to make from free men slaves, no man can take upon himself to do so in this free country. Those who wish to move must be moved, those who want to remain must be left to themselves. Col. Pepper, in the name of the president, spoke several times in that way, and he said that by the 5th of August those who want to remain, would be submitted to the law of the country. Of course it is against men under the protection of the law, that you act in such a dictatorial manner; it is impossible for me, and for many to conceive how such events may take place in this country of liberty. I have consecrated my whole life, my whole powers to the good of my neighbours, but as to associate to any violence against them, even if it were at my own disposal, I cannot find in me strength enough to do so. May God protect them, and me, against numerous misrepresentations which are made, both of them and of me.

I am sorry, General, not to be able to comply any further with your wishes.

Your most obedient Servant


The Trail of Death: Letters of Benjamin Marie Petit (1925)
Irving McKee


September 24, 2003
Monticello to Exeter, Illinois (100 miles)

Visited 10 Trail of Death markers: Sangamon River Crossing, Decatur, Niantic, two at Springfield, Riddle Hill, Island Grove, two at Jacksonville, Exeter. Thelma Tuggle and friends brought us breakfast at the campgrounds. Sister Joan Sullivan met us and placed a pink rose at the Trail of Death marker in Decatur. Cindy Smith, the mother of the Boy Scout who placed the marker in Niantic, greeted us and said he is in college. Illinois PBS TV video- taped us at Springfield's Old Capitol Plaza. We ate lunch at the Holy Land restaurant by the Old Capitol building. New Salem Methodist Church served us refreshments when we visited the Trail of Death marker at Riddle Hill. The Jacksonville High School band serenaded the caravan at the town square as the town band did in 1838. In Exeter Roger Lovelace and George Knisely families had supper for the caravan in Lovelace's house. An evening campfire was held in Exeter town park. We presented them with a plaque in appreciation for having a hog roast for our caravans of 1988, 1993, and 1998. Remember the $20 given us by the waitresses at Independence, Ind.? We gave it to Roger to help pay for the supper they served us because he is out of work.

"Trail of Death Caravan across Illinois" (2003)
Shirley Willard


"Markers Complete the Trail of Death" / Danville Commercial News

Shirley Willard doesn't dwell on discussing which of those involved in the 1838 Trail of Death were the good guys or the bad guys.

"We won't get into who was good or bad. The important thing is to remember and make sure it never happens again," she said.

Willard is secretary and editor for the Indian Awareness Center, a branch of the Fulton County (Ind.) Historical Society. Located in Rochester, Ind., near the trail's starting point, the center is the official repository for all Trail of Death historical materials.

Willard also serves as coordinator for the placement of historical markers on the trail.

In 1988, she and George Godfrey of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation organized the first Trail of Death Commemorative Caravan. It marked the 150th anniversary of the 1838 forced removal of Potawatomi Indians from Indiana to Kansas.

"Many died and were buried along the way, hence the name Trail of Death, as they traveled on foot and horseback," Willard said.

Hubert Powell and Paul Quick of Danville erected the Ellsworth Park marker in Danville in 1990. Powell told Willard last week that he made it crooked intentionally.

"I did that because it was such a crooked deal that they did to the Indians back then," he said.

Willard says the completion of marking the trail is important for what it signifies.

"We live in a new century and today, people are trying to right the wrongs of the past," she said.

"History cannot be changed but people's attitudes can be changed."

"All this is an indication that the time is fast approaching when the American Indians will be treated with respect and equality so that they may have true freedom," Willard said.

"That is our wish."


E) Tribe of Ishmael

The Tribe of Ishmael, or Ishmaelites, was a tightly knit nomadic community of African, Native American, and "poor white" descent, estimated to number about 10,000. Fugitives from the South, they arrived in the central part of the Old Northwest at the beginning of the nineteenth century, preceding the other pioneers. After a century of fierce culture conflict with the majority society, the tribe was forcibly dispersed. (98)

The earlier migrations of the tribe had been involuntary, but they now pursued a nomadic way of life as a central feature of their distinctive culture. Their annual migratory route was northwest from Indianapolis to the Kankakee River south of Lake Michigan, from there south through eastern Illinois to the vicinity of Champaign-Urbana and Decatur, and finally due east, back to Indianapolis. This triangular route is about 350 miles as the crow flies. Every spring many hundreds of small carts set off, filled with children and the elderly, drawn by donkeys or horses (usually scrawny in latter years), the Ishmaelite men and women walking alongside. In the late spring (until "Indian Removal" in the north in the 1830s) there was joyful reunion with the Native Americans of the Kankakee. During the summer the tribe moved south, and when fall came they turned again to winter quarters. The migration was repeated every year for nearly a century. (101)

Already mentioned was James Whitcomb Riley's "Little Orphant Annie," who came to stay as a bound girl and terrorized her master's children with supernatural lore. That she was Ishmaelite is supported by her characterization as a "little gypsy" and "from a wild country settlement" in Riley's essay which amplifies the poem. (115)

A much more significant use of the Tribe of Ishmael in literature is not a regional work but a classic of the national literature, James Fenimore Cooper's novel The Prairie. The tribe, identified by name, is the center of action and theme. (116)

An Ishmaelite could be seen at one time as a childish but lascivious "Negro," a violent and savage "Indian," a shiftless and feeble-minded poor-white, and - most unspeakable - a mongrel product of the defilement of racial purity. This was a deadly mix that conjured up the nightmarish events of the war upon the Ishmaelites. (123)

To the majority people the shantytowns became a scandal, the annual migration an invasion by the "Grasshopper Gypsies," as they called them, and both were a cause of trouble for the authorities and alarm for the citizenry. (123)

It is appropriate - and not coincidental - that what came to take on world significance, a battery of genetic theories and eugenic proposals in the service of "scientific" racism, can be historically traced to the war on the Ishmaelites as one of its earliest sources. (129)

In 1905 a bill was introduced in the Indiana Legislature, and in 1907 the first compulsory sterilization law in the world was enacted by the state of Indiana. (130)

"The Ben Ishmael Tribe: A Fugitive "Nation" of the Old Northwest" (1977)
Hugo P Leaming


Members of this extensive group have had a pauper record in Indianapolis since 1840. They have been in the almshouse, the House of Refuge, the Woman's Reformatory, the penitentiaries, and have received continuous aid from the township. The Ishmaels are intermarried with 250 other families of similar habits and tendencies. In the family history are murders, a large number of illegitimacies, and out of the 1092 individuals whose cases have been investigated, 121 are known to have been prostitutes. The members of the family are generally diseased. The children often die young. They live by petty stealing, begging, ash-gathering. In summer they 'gypsy,' or travel in wagons east or west. We hear of them in Illinois about Decatur, and in Ohio about Columbus. In the fall they return. They have been known to live in hollow trees on the river-bottoms, or in empty houses. Strangely enough they are not intemperate. The individuals already traced are over 5000, interwoven by descent and marriage. They under-run society like devil-grass.

"American Charities" (1908)
Amos G. Warner


F) Leisure & Labor > Interurban, Walking Club & Homer Park


DATE. Saturday afternoon, October 10, 1914.

LEADERS: G.F. Schwartz and Miss M.V. Cobb.

ATTRACTIONS. Two trips are offered, one east and the other west along the stream. Those returning on the early car may find the park itself sufficient attraction.
Autumn leaves are at their best. Splendid woods line the banks of the stream.

COST: About 75 cents

TOTAL WALK: (Either trip) three or four miles.

WHAT WE STAND FOR: The Walking Club stands for scenic and historic preservation and for a higher standard of conduct than that of the ordinary picnic party. We harm no fences, close gates, scatter no rubbish, put out fires, trample no crops, and break no branches. Many of the parties make it an invariable rule never to pick wild flowers, and all of us use self-restraint.

UIUC Archives


Over the years Homer Park developed a small petting zoo (which even included a bear, a parrot, a monkey, snakes, and an eagle), a merry-go-round, a stone water fountain, a shoot-the-chutes slide into the river, a diving tower, a power boat, dance hall, horseshoe pits, baseball diamond, pool hall, roller skating rink and refreshment stands that sold fried chicken cooked by Burkhardt's wife Mame.

The Depression and the development of the automobile culture spelled the end for Homer Park. By 1930 most of the old buildings and attractions had been razed. An effort to rebuild the park failed.

Hot Type / 150 Years of the Best Local Stories from the News-Gazette (2002)


July 25, 1903
Danville Lynching

In Danville, there was heightened concern about the increasing number of blacks in the community, attracted there by construction work on the interurban railroad line being built from Urbana. Two incidents had exacerbated the situation - the death of an elderly white man, allegedly by a black man, and the assault of a white woman, also supposedly by a black.

John Metcalf had come to Danville from Evansville, Ind., after race riots there. He got a job with the interurban construction crew. On the night of July 25, Metcalf was outside Shermayer's saloon on East Main Street, when he ran into Henry Gatterman, a local butcher, and another man. The men got into an argument over whether Gatterman had called Metcalf a racial epithet, a row ensued, Metcalf drew a revolver and twice shot Henry Gatterman. Gatterman died a short time later and Metcalf was arrested and taken to the Danville City Building.

Within minutes a mob estimated at between 3000 and 4000 people had gathered outside the building, some crying "Get a rope" and "Burn him at the stake." Police, armed with guns and clubs, stood guard at the building but apparently made little effort to stop the horde. Danville Mayor John Beard was at the building and later said, "With all the officiers of the law in the city the lynching could not have been prevented. It was useless to shoot into the mob."

The crowd jammed the city building. Metcalf was found in a cell, "thrown to the floor, kicked almost to death and was then thrown through a window into the heart of the howling mob in the street," according to a story in The Champaign Daily Gazette. He was dragged through the streets and apparently died as he was being kicked and beaten. A rope was strung over a telephone pole and Metcalf's corpse was hoisted above the crowd. Shot were fired into it. One shot sliced through the rope, and the body fell to the pavement. It was again dragged through, then set afire in front of the county jail. "Hundreds of women and children watched the sickening site," said the Gazette.

The mob then turned its attention on the jail, where two other black men were being held. Sheriff Hardy Whitlock stepped outside and begged the crowd to leave. "You are doing wrong," said Whitlock, who had been a constable in Danville in 1895 when Halls and Royce had been lynched. "You will regret what you have already done tomorrow and you should go home and allow the law to takes its course."

After a long siege in which the crowd tried to break down the jail's doors with a battering ram and Whitlock and his deputies fired shots into the crowd, it finally dispersed. For days afterward, Whitlock was congratulated by everyone from President Theodore Roosevelt to Danville's banking community as well as in editorials in many of the nation's newspapers.

The Danville Daily Democrat condemned the mob but also blamed Metcalf. "The men who participated in the mob Saturday night can offer no excuse for the lynching of the negro, nor the scenes of violence which will make the night one long to be remembered by the citizens of Danville. There can be no doubt but that the negro Metcalf deserved the punishment of death, but it would have been inflicted by the court of Vermilion County had the negro been given a trial. A legal execution would have satisfied every desire for vengeance and would have been ample warning to the criminal, both black and white."

No one was ever charged for the murder of John Metcalf. (46-47)

Hot Type / 150 Years of the Best Local Stories from the News-Gazette (2002)


Homer had already felt the effect of the coming of the Wabash Railroad and had moved from its old site on the Salt Fork to a new site a mile south on the Wabash Railroad. A Homer businessman had bought a site for a town at a planned railroad stop. He had offered each owner of a lot in Old Homer a lot at the new site in exchange for his lot in the old town. Every movable building was then put on drays and hauled to the new location. Thus the new town of South Homer was created and platted in 1855. (91)

"Historical Geography of Champaign County, Illinois" (1957)
Marjorie Corrine Smith


G) Underground Railroad

"Downtown Quincy"

From an underground railroad historic site to original artwork, fine dining and nightlife, Quincy can provide everything from the romantic weekend getaway to the perfect place to call home.


"Dr. Richard Ells House"

Dr. Richard Ells built this home, now located within the Downtown Quincy Historic District, in 1835. Ells built only the front portion of the house as it stands today, four blocks from the Mississippi River. He lived here until his death in 1848. Quincy, Illinois, was the first Underground Railroad station across the border of Missouri - a slave state. An abolitionist, Ells was actively involved in the Underground Railroad. In 1842 he was caught helping an escaped slave, Charley, from Monticello, Missouri. Charley was brought to the Ells house by a freed black, Barryman Barnett, who had spotted Charley swimming across the Mississippi River. While transporting Charley to Quincy's Mission Institute, a safer hiding place, Ells came across a posse looking for Charley. Charley fled, on Ells advice, and was later found and returned to Missiouri. Ells returned home where he was shortly arrested and charged with harboring and secreting a fugitive slave under the Illinois Criminal Code. Judge Stephen A. Douglas heard the case in April 1843, and fined Ells $400, which he appealed.

Meanwhile, Ells became president of the Illinois Anti-Slavery Party in 1843 and was a candidate for the Liberty Party for the presidential election of 1844. He lost his appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court, the process of which drained him financially and emotionally. Ells died on a riverboat on the Ohio River while on a trip east to rest. His estate appealed his case to United States Supreme Court, which also upheld the guilt verdict. The town of Quincy is also notable as the location of the sixth Lincoln-Douglas debate of their senatorial campaign on October 13, 1858, a debate which centered on the question of expansion of slavery.


H) Contradictions in Quincy

"Trail of Death marker to be placed on Quinsippi Island" / Quincy Herald-Whig

What may be the last Trail of Death Commemorative Caravan travels through Quincy on Thursday, bringing an opportunity to learn more about another culture and a dark page in the nation's history.

And this time, Quincy plans a celebration as a sign of peace and friendship for the Potawatomi Indians.

The public is invited to meet and greet the Potawatomi and friends on the caravan, including some descendants of participants in the Indians’ forced removal march from Indiana to Kansas. The 1838 march became known as the Trail of Death because more than 40 died on the 60-day, 660 mile trek.

"Quincy needs to do a little more to treat the people as delegates of a nation," Quincy archaeologist Steven Tieken said. "This is a small way to show an act of tenderness, an act of kindness, to show them we want to learn."

"This is a rare opportunity to meet with the Potawatomi people and learn something of their past, present and future," Tieken said. "This historical event will stand as a testament to the healing power of education, understanding and forgiveness."

For the Potawatomi, the caravan marks a spiritual journey, a chance to relive the past while traveling the original 1838 route of their ancestors. The route passed through the Quincy area, where the Potawatomi camped in October 1838 and held mass at St. Boniface Church.

The Potawatomi will retrace those steps, holding mass again at St. Boniface using the same chalice used by Father Benjamin Petit who accompanied the Potawatomi on the Trail of Death.

"We're pleased to see people come together in friendship," said Shirley Willard, president emerita of the Fulton County Historical Society in Rochester, Ind., and Fulton County historian. "It's good for people to meet the Potawatomi and learn about their life today. Not all Indians live on reservations. A number do, but many do not. They live like anybody else, with computers and e-mail."

The caravan begins today in Rochester, Ind., and ends Sunday in Osawatomie, Kan. At least 17 people plan to travel the entire route with another eight participating in a portion of the caravan which highlights 48 camp sites, roughly 15-20 miles apart, used during the Trail of Death march.

With the caravan participants aging, "this is probably the last of the caravans," Willard said. "We try to get the younger ones interested. They may go again, but I doubt if we have another public caravan."

The caravan stops at many of the marked sites along the way - including Perry, Liberty where a Potawatomi child died during the trek and Quincy along with West Quincy and Palmyra, Mo. - and shares information on the CB radio about others along the route.

"It's about 660 miles that the Potawatomi covered in 1838. They moved in 60 days in terrible agony, walking (with many) so sick," Willard said. "Ours will be over 660 miles, but in cars, campers with air conditioning. You can't help but notice the difference."

The story of the trail itself "is not something to be proud of," Willard said. "We hope something like this never happens again in the history of the world."

The Quincy area has long-standing ties to the Potawatomi. In 1838, the city "did extend some hospitality" to the peaceful Indians, said Jim Barry, a member of the Historical Society of Quincy and Adams County.

"They were not just passing through Adams County. Long before the migration, we did have two camps, two little villages in northern Adams County," he said. "We want people to know about them."

Early settlers, and their descendants still living in the Quincy area today, owe much to the Native American people. "All through history, they rescued us at key points," Tieken said.

"It's a wonderful story," Tieken said. "The fact they’re coming back here after 165 years I think will be interesting."


Historical Markers in Quincy, Illinois

"Indian Removals - A Memorial"

From 1818 through 1851 groups of American Indians were forcibly removed from states on the east side of the Mississippi River to territories on the west side. One of these removals was the Potawatomi Trail of Death, conducted by William Polke, Rochester, Indiana, and escorted by soldiers from Indiana to Kansas. 850 Indians, 395 horses and 52 wagons crossed the river on a steam ferry boat Oct. 8-9, 1833. They were accompanied by Father Benjamin Petit from Indiana and attended Mass at St. Boniface Church, Quincy. Many Indians died on the removals and were buried along the trail. The trail of death lost 41 to death, mostly elders and babies. About 60 deserted and went back to Indiana or north to Wisconsin and Canada and some went to Texas and Mexico. In 1840 500 Potawatomi from Indiana and Michigan, conducted by Alexis Coquillard, passed through Quincy and attended Mass at St. Peter Church, having been accompanied by Father Stephen Bernier of Indiana. Abram Burnell, a full blood Potawatomi, acted as interpreter for both 1838 and 1840 groups. Today their descendants live in all 50 states.

"Let us tell the stories of the past and vow never more."


"The Mormons in Quincy"

Mormons in Missouri were forced to flee their homes or face death because of an 'Extermination Order' issued in 1838 by Governor Lillburn Boggs. Many of them crossed into Illinois at Quincy and were made welcome by the people here. In April, 1839 they were joined by their leader Joseph Smith, who had been imprisoned on charges of treason since November 1838. Smith had long envisioned a great Mormon community. In May of 1839 he purchased land upriver from Quincy and set about building his city - Nauvoo. It became the center of Mormon life and by his death in 1844 was the largest city in Illinois.


"Augustine Tolton"

Father Tolton, the first Negro priest in the United States, was born of slave parents in Bush Creek, Missouri, in 1854. Educated at Quincy schools, he returned to this city after his ordination in Rome, Italy, in 1886. He celebrated his first public mass at St. Boniface Church in Quincy and later established St. Monica's Church for Negroes in Chicago. He died in Chicago in 1897, and is buried at St. Peter's Cemetery, Quincy.


Historical Markers in the Vicinity of Quincy, Illinois

"New Philadelphia"

New Philadelphia was the first town in America founded by an African American. Frank McWorter was a slave that paid for his freedom in Virginia and traveled to Pike County, Illinois. In 1836, he founded New Philadelphia and sold lots of land to pay for his family's freedom. The town lasted until 1885, when the railroad was rerouted.


"Nauvoo Historic Sites and Nauvoo Temple"

The Nauvoo Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was recently rebuilt in Nauvoo, one of the original settlements of the Mormon people. The structure is 150-feet tall and overlooks the Mississippi River. The temple was reconstructed on the site of the original Nauvoo Temple, which was built between 1841 and 1846, but later destroyed by arson, as the Mormon people were driven out of Nauvoo. The many buildings of the original Mormon settlement have also been restored and are open for tours.


"Carthage Jail"

The Old Carthage Jail was constructed of native limestone between 1839 and 1841. It was the site where Mormon leader, Joseph Smith Jr, and his brother Hyrum were killed by an angry mob on June 27, 1844. Their actions resulted in the Mormons abandoning nearby Nauvoo on the trek west that led to the founding of Salt Lake City, UT.

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