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From: Bill <>
Subject: [OH-NW-HERITAGE] Black Swamp, "Mostly Flowers", 19 October 2008,Vol 7 #34
Date: Sun, 19 Oct 2008 21:33:59 -0400
Black Swamp Heritage Articles
© Bill Oliver
19 October 2008
Vol 7 Issue: #34
Good Evening from the Black Swamp of NWoHIo,
In 1916, with the support of the Georgia Federation of Women's Clubs,
the Cherokee rose was named the state floral emblem. No better symbol
exists of the pain and suffering of the Trail Where They Cried than the
Cherokee Rose. The Legend of the Cherokee Rose begins when the Trail of
Tears started in 1838. The Cherokee mothers were grieving and crying
so much, they were unable to help their children survive the journey.
The elders prayed for a sign that would lift the mother's spirits to
give them strength. The next day where each of their tears fell a
beautiful rose began to grow. [picture at
http://georgiainfo.galileo.usg.edu/cherokeerose.htm ] The rose is white
for their tears; a gold center represents the gold taken from Cherokee
lands, and seven leaves on each stem for the seven Cherokee clans. To
this very day, the wild Cherokee Rose grows along the route of the Trail
of Tears into eastern Oklahoma today.
The Removal Act of 1830 forced thousands of Native Americans to march
west on the trail through winter storms. Many died. Congress made the
trail a national historic area in 1987 to commemorate them. It is
estimated that nearly 9,000 Cherokees passed through Southern Illinois
between November, 1838, and January, 1839, on their Trail Where They
Cried as they were moved from their homes in the Great Smokies to settle
Today there are efforts to map the routes and recollect the stories of
the Cherokee visit to Little Egypt, as southern Illinois is known. John
Burde, an SIUC forestry professor, and graduate students Karen Frailey
and Kevin Schraer have spent a few months recording the Illinois leg of
the trail at the behest of the National Park Service, which is working
to preserve and develop the paths that 19th-century soldiers once used
to drive Cherokee Indians off their land. "Unfortunately, a lot of it
is right under the existing highway [Illinois Highway 146] --those parts
are gone," Burde says. Further, "A lot of it has been plowed under for
The Rev. John S. Butrick, a missionary who traveled with the Cherokees,
kept a diary recording his impressions of the conditions along the
route. Another source is local family histories. It is my understanding
that these are once again being collected and hopefully will be
documented and printed for us all. One of these stories follows.
According to John W. Allen, curator of history of Southern Illinois
University Museum, a young slave girl named Prisilla, while on a
plantation in Georgia, met one Barzilla Silkwood, a prominent citizen of
Franklin county, Illinois.
Prisilla's "master" died and since she was "property" was sold to a
Cherokee Indian "chief". Prisilla pocketed hollyhock seeds from her
cabin on the plantation and planted them at her new home with the
In 1838 the Cherokees were removed from the Great Smokies to "Indian"
territory in northestern Oklahoma. When this segment of the Trail Where
They Cried passed through Jonesboro in Union County, Illinois, they were
delayed due to ice breaking on the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. At some
point, while standing in front of the Willard Hotel in Jonesboro,
Prisilla and "Bazil" Silkwood looked at each other "intently". Prisilla
queried, "Are you Marse Silkwood?"
Upon establishing identities, Mr. Silkwood learned that Prisilla was now
the "property" of a Cherokee. He then negotiated the purchase of
Prisilla, it is said, for one thousand dollars gold. Silkwood returned
to his home and freed Prisilla, who lived the rest of her life as one of
Prisilla took from the Cherokee plantation seeds of the original
hollyhocks she had planted there and now planted them on her newest home
north of Mulkeytown in Franklin county.
These hollyhocks have come to be known as Prisilla hollyhocks. In 1950,
seeds from these hollyhocks were given to the daughter of the last chief
of the Oklahoma Cherokees. In 1951, one hundred twelve years following
the removal the hollyhocks of northern Georgia bloomed in Oklahoma.
Only a small part of the trail's northern route runs through Illinois,
from Golconda to a point just north of Cape Girardeau. As mentioned
earlier, an effort is being made to trace the trail and record stories
concerning the visit through Little Egypt. According to some family
stories, branches of my family who were living in Coffee county,
Tennessee, were among the travelers of the "Trail Where They Cried" and
left the wagon train in Johnson county, settling near Crossroads
[Reynoldsburg]. To me it is amazing that in what family records there
are no further information comes forth about this adventure.
Another story about how young Cherokees earned some money was published
in a Vienna Times article. Jon Musgrave, in an article about the
Cherokees in Johnson county, quoted from the article:
"A favorite scheme to raise money ... was in his craftiness in the use
of the bow and arrow. He would approach the white emigrants and place a
coin in the split end of a pole, step back so many paces and offer the
coin if he did not hit it in the first show, otherwise he was to receive
a coin from the emigrant."
e-la-Di-e-das-Di ha-WI NV-WA-do-hi-ya NV-WA-to-hi-ya-da.
(May you walk in peace and harmony)
"Myths are universal and timeless stories that reflect and shape our
lives ..." Alexander McCall Smith, Dream Angus
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