where the writers are
Grandkids on the Trail of Tears
            One set of grandkids has left, but not before a second set arrived and they had a couple days’ overlap. So I finally was able to carry out a desired project that originated in January when Gerald and I attended the site certification for the Crabb-Abbott Farm in Pope County.  When Joe Crabb invited us back to go down to Sugar Creek and see the actual segment of the Trail of Tears that is on his and Ethel’s farm, I knew I wanted to plan to do when I had some grandkids along to share the experience.  I phoned Joe early in the week and made the arrangements.
            Yesterday with the help of our son-in-law David, I took Elijah, Trent, Brianna, Samuel, and Cecelie down to Vienna for lunch and onto down Route 146 until we came to Hound Ridge Road.  Joe met us in the yard and quickly invited the gang into their air-conditioned home.  Settling the children, he read to them a letter from William Callow lovingly written to his parents in Cottage Hill, Rotherfield, Old England, in December 1849.
            Married in 1846, Callow had finally gotten around to answering his parents’ April letter.  In his beautiful script and with interesting spelling, Callow brought his parents up-to-date on his new family.  He had bought a house for $12 dollars, a cow for $10, and had cleared eight acres and planned to clear another eight the next year.  He was working the land on shares but expected to be able “to deed my place” in three or four years.
            A descendant of Callow had a copy of this letter and sought out her ancestor’s farm.  She showed up in Joe’s yard to see the farm.  Joe was as thrilled as the descendant to be able to show her the house site of William Callow, where there were still a few dish shards for her to take.  
             Joe has spent many hours perusing and the transcribing this letter of an earlier owner of his farm.  (You can read the long letter in the April-June 2008 issue of The Saga of Southern Illinois.)  Joe looked up his copy of the copy of the letter in the Callow’s handwriting when the kids asked about it.  When he offered to make the kids a copy, Cecelie and Trent were quick to want it.  
            I had thought from January that we were going to simply walk down to the creek behind Joe’s house to see his segment of the Trail of Tears, but he more adventures for us than that.  We all crawled into his truck and rode on down the road and finally on a road through his fields of thick tall corn.  He would stop periodically to let us see certain sites where the road from Golconda built in 1824 had gone through his farm.  We hiked down a steep hill and the kids got their feet wet in Sugar Creek at the spot where travelers, including the Cherokee, would have forded the creek. 
            Joe gave me the easy way of staying in the truck for the long ride around.  David and the kids climbed the hill through the woods, and David came out with a large turkey feather and another from a hawk.  Those who wanted munched blackberries, which, of course, were not available to those on the Trail Where They Cried in December of 1838.  The Cherokee would also have welcomed the 90 plus degree heat we experienced.             After that hike, the kids welcomed climbing back in the truck bed and going to the Callow home site which was right beside the old road bed that was once the Trail for thousands of tired, ill fed, and often sick people driven from their homes when the federal government broke the treaties signed,  At that spot on the trail, a small sign indicated that the Cherokee would have already walked over 300 miles from a fort in Tennessee, and they had over 400 more to go to reach the territory assigned to them.  By then, our kids were still hot and tired from their short hike, and they did not believe they could possible go on for another 400 miles.
             Back at the house, Ethel furnished washclothes for the kids to wash off their legs in the bathroom in the hopes that none of us caught poison ivy.  After more rest, Joe had us back in the truck and took us over some of the public gravel roads that still follow much of the original route that most of the Cherokee took.  We passed the Theopolis Scott house site and up the road a piece the Farmer home site, where families stood on their porches and watched the mind-boggling line of Cherokees marching by.               By then it was starting to lightning and show signs of a totally unexpected rain storm.  We stopped, and the kids scrambled from the back of the truck up into the front and back seats of Joe’s generous-sized truck.  Barely had the doors been shut when the deluge started and rained on us all the way back to Joe’s house, where I had conscientiously left the car windows rolled down so the day’s heat would not make us faint when we got back in.  Ethel said she had gone out to roll the windows up, but I had the keys so it was impossible.  This time she loaned us towels to wipe up the seats and the soaked floorboards.              Everyone came home to bathe in hot soapy showers and try to find and remove all ticks collected on the day’s journey through woods.  I hope the memories of the day, however, will stay with us always.