In Oct 2018 the Oklahoma Chapter of the Trail of Tears Association (TOTA) held a grave-marking dedication at the Hungry Mountain Cemetery near Stilwell, Oklahoma for three Cherokee members. Bronze plaques were placed on the headstones for these three survivors of the Trail of Tears:
- Jackson Christie, died July 26, 1900, at age 65.
- James Bigby, 1778-1855.
- His wife, Catherine Foreman Bigby, 1785- abt. 1867.
Information needed to certify the three Cherokees as survivors of the Trail of Tears was researched and compiled by TOTA member, David Hampton, who also developed their genealogies. Perhaps in the future we will see honorees selected from the Choctaw survivors. See my blog Against All Odds for eight Choctaw women who survived the Trail of Tears AND have known burial locations and headstone. Location is critical; a headstone honoring the person can always be added.
Catherine “Katie” Bigby is particularly interesting, as she brings evidence of the Scottish bloodlines within the Indian people of the Indian Territory. According to her bio on Find-a-Grave, her father, Anthony Foreman, “was a Scotsman here in the service of the British during the Revolutionary War. He became disgruntled with the war, deserted the British ranks and decided to settle down in America with an Indian lass named Susie Bark, a full-blood Cherokee.” Katie was also half-sister to well-known Rev. Stephen Foreman.
The TOTA Fall newsletter also included historical letters from the National Archives regarding the Cherokee Removal between the army officers charged with conducting the Cherokee Removal. The letters are a factual, impersonal account of what we know was a devastating and difficult march on the Trail of Tears.
As one reporter states, “All appear willing to move to the west.” We have witnessed this type of faulty observation before – see my blog The Emigrating Choctaws on the reporting done by the Arkansas Gazette about the Choctaw Removal, during which the term “Trail of Tears” was first used. Cooperative and non-threatening attitudes do not equate to happy and content people.
Where was the sorrow and the mind-numbing grief over the loss of their loved ones and former homes? It appears that people see what they want to see or expect to see. Something for us – in our own lives – to think about!
***YAHOKE, ikana! Thank you, friends. Much GRATITUDE for spending time on a Choctaw Journey with me.***
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