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In Their Own Words

December 30, 1838

Letter Detailed Suffering on Trail of Tears

Four weeks and 300 miles away from their destination, the fourth detachment of Cherokees on the Trail of Tears camped for the night in Missouri. Here, Baptist missionary Evan Jones, who was accompanying this group, wrote in a letter:

“December 30, 1838: Camp of the 4th Detachment of Emigrating Cherokees, Little Prairie, Mo. We have now been on our road to Arkansas seventy-five days and have travelled five hundred and twenty-nine miles… . It has however been exceedingly cold for some time past which renders the condition of those who are but thinly clad very uncomfortable … [E]very morning [we] make fires along the road at short intervals. This we have found a great alleviation to the sufferings of the people.

“At the Mississippi River we were stopped from crossing by the ice running so that the boats could not pass for several days… . [T]here will be an immense amount of suffering and loss of life attending the removal. Great numbers of the old, the young, and the infirm will inevitably be sacrificed. And the fact that the removal is effected by coercion makes it the more galling to the feelings of the survivors.”

Source: William G. McLoughlin, “The Reverend Evan Jones and the Cherokee Trail of Tears, 1838-1839, 73 Georgia Historical Quarterly (Fall 1989), pp. 580-581.