Inscription on plaque:
"In 1838 the northern Potawatami tribes and many Indians from other tribes were forcibly relocated to Eastern Kansas. The first point to encampment in Illinois on the march westward was near the North Fork River in Danville. This monument is to commemorate the hardships, deaths and humiliation these people suffered during their forced passage. We salute their courage. It is in their memory we make this dedication. May 13, 1990"
From Entries from the diary of Jesse C. Douglas, Enrolling Agent under
General Tipton, the United States' conductor of the forced removal (visit link
"Sunday 16th Sept. 15 mi., crossed state line at noon, camped at Danville, IL. Left 7 persons in camp, 1 a woman about to give birth. Whole country afflicted with sickness. 4 whites died in town. Father Petit arrived, got chiefs out of jail wagon, baptized dying babies."
More background about the Trail of Death excerpted from an excellent Wikipedia entry:
"The Potawatomi Trail of Death was the forced removal by United States forces from September 4 to November 4, 1838, of 859 members of the Potawatomi nation from Twin Lakes near Plymouth, Indiana, to the location of present-day Osawatomie, Kansas, a distance of 660 miles (1,060 km). Typhoid fever and the stress of the forced march led to the death of over 40 individuals, mostly children. Fr. Benjamin Marie Petit, who marched with his congregation of natives, died in St. Louis on February 10, 1839, as a result of the rigors of the journey.
In 1830, the Federal Government passed the Indian Removal Act. It was the intent of the government to remove the Indian population from the populated east to the remote and unpopulated lands west of the Mississippi.
Potawatomi of the Woods are those tribes living around the southern tip of Lake Michigan in Michigan and north central Indiana. In October, 1832 treaties were signed at Tippecanoe River north of Rochester,Indiana, which ceded most of their remaining lands in northwestern and north central Indiana. In exchange for their lands in the east, they were given lands in the west (Potawatomi County, Kansas) and annual annuities.
Over the next 4 years, additional treaties were completed with the other Potawatomi to completely eliminate their titles from lands in Indiana. Unlike all the other chiefs, Chief Menominee and his band at Twin Lakes, Indiana, refused to sign the treaties.
The deadline for the tribe to leave was August 5, 1838. By then some Potawatomi bands had migrated peacefully to their new lands in Kansas but not the Twin Lakes village of Chief Menominee. The village was near present day Plymouth, Indiana. After the deadline passed and the village refused to leave, Governor David Wallace ordered General John Tipton to mobilize the state militia in support of Colonel A. C. Pepper to remove the tribe forcibly.
On August 30, General Tipton and one hundred soldiers (actually volunteer militia) surrounded Twin Lakes and began to round up the natives, 859 in all. The Potawatomi's crops and homes were burned to discourage them from trying to return, and on September 4 the march to Kansas began. The state supplied a caravan of twenty-six wagons to help transport their goods. In the first day they traveled twenty-one miles and camped at the Tippecanoe River north of Rochester, Indiana. The second day they reached Mud Creek in Fulton County, Indiana where the first death occurred, a baby. By the third day they reached Logansport, Indiana. Several of the sick and elderly were left at Logansport to recover, and several of the dead were buried there. The route they were traveling was on the Michigan Road, a road that their nation had granted permission for Indiana to build only a few years earlier.
On September 10 the march resumed from Logansport and the caravan moved along the north side of the Wabash River. They passed through present-day Pittsburg, Battle Ground, Lafayette, and Williamsport, with two or more deaths occurring nearly every day. Their last camp in Indiana was near the Gopher Hill Cemetery one and one-half miles from the Indiana - Illinois state line. On Sept. 16 the caravan crossed into Illinois, and camped at [Danville, Illinois] where four more Potawatomi died and were buried. In Danville the caravan was joined by Father Benjamin Petit who kept a journal as he traveled with the tribe the rest of the way to help care for the sick.
At Danville, Illinois they resupplied and rested, adding a couple of ox teams and wagons. There, on September 20, General Tipton and all but fifteen of the Hoosiers returned to Indiana and left the tribe under the control of Judge William Polke of Rochester, Indiana, the federal conductor. Polke led the Potawatomi the rest of the way to their new reservation. From Catlin (known as Sandusky Point, Illinois the tribe passed through Monticello, Decatur, Springfield, Jacksonville, Exeter, and Naples where they crossed the Illinois River on a ferry. On October 10 the tribe left Illinois at Quincy, crossing the Mississippi River on steam ferry boats, and crossed into Missouri.
Marching through Missouri the tribe passed through West Quincy, Palmyra, Paris, Moberly, Huntsville, Salisbury, Keatsville (now spelled Keytesville), Brunswick, DeWitt, Carrollton, Richmond, crossed the Missouri River at Lexington, Wellington, Napoleon, near Buckner and Lake City,Independence, and Grand View. They crossed into Kansas Nov. 2 and camped at Oak Grove (probably Elm Grove because there is no Oak Grove here), then went on Nov. 3 to Bulltown (present Paola). On November 4 they reached the end of their journey, Osawatomie, Kansas, having traveled 660 miles (1,060 km). On arrival there were 756 Potawatomi left out of the 859 that started the journey. The difference between 859 Potawatomi who started out and the 756 who arrived in Kansas made some people think that 150 died, but many escaped. Forty-two died.
Father Petit died two months after the march from illness, believed to be typhoid, brought on by exhaustion. Chief Menominee died three years later, never returning to Indiana. Many of the exiles did attempt to return to Indiana. Kansas named a county after the tribe and a reservation for Prairie Band Potawatomi is at Mayetta, Kansas."
There are many markers and plaques commemorating the Trail along the way in Illinois.