Preserving our Nation's History

Preserving our Nation's History
By: Arnold Wyrick
HOUND RIDGE, Ill. - It was one of the darkest moments in our nations history, when the Cherokee Indians were rounded up from their homelands in the southern Appalachian Mountains.  Standing 15,000 strong they were forced to march in the middle of the winter in 1838, thousands of miles west to a new home in Oklahoma.
The path the Cherokee walked is now known as the Trail of Tears.  And parts of the path winds across southern Illinois and Missouri.
Now another segment of the trail is documented and marked for future generations.
"The Trail of Tears is very important to me because of the things that happened at that time.  There are things that are not really being told today," said Joe Crabb.
Crabb, his daughter, Cindy, and her husband, Bruce Abbott own a farm in rural Pope County.  Shortly after Joe and his wife, Ethel, moved onto the farm 45 years ago he began researching the area and the farm's place in southern Illinois history.
That's when he discovered that part of the original Trail of Tears winds right through his farm.
"And now we can give it presence on the ground.  To take it out of the history books and provide an opportunity for people to experience on the ground the place where history happened," said Steve Chavez, Landscape Architect for the National Trails System Office.
Sharing this piece of our nation's history is just part of the reason Joe Crabb has worked so hard to document everything about his farm and what happened on it 170 years ago as the Cherokee nation walked through the same woods he does today.
"So much of the trail is being covered up with concrete and roads or plowed under.  But, this is one thing I think we'll be able to preserve on our farm.  And my grandchildren who are living here today hopefully will go ahead and continue this," Crabb said.