200 Alabama Bicentennial

Celebrating Alabama’s 200th birthday2017 2018 2019

Trail of Tears 


In May 1838 soldiers under the command of Gen. Winfield Scott began rounding up Cherokee Indians in this area who had refused to move to Indian Territory (Oklahoma). About 15,000 Cherokees were placed in stockades in Tennessee and Alabama until their removal. Roughly 3,000 were sent by boat down the Tennessee River and the rest were marched overland in the fall and winter of 1838-39. This forced removal under harsh conditions resulted in the deaths of about 4,000 Cherokees. In late June 1838 a party of 1,070 poorly equipped Indians was marched overland from Ross' Landing at Chattanooga, TN to Waterloo, AL because of low water in the upper Tennessee River. Following the general route of present-day U.S. Hwy. 72, they camped at Boliver, Bellefonte, and Woodville (Jackson County). About 300 escaped along the way, and at Bellefonte on June 26, the remainder refused to proceed. The local militia under the command of Army Capt. G. S. Drane was called out to get the group started and escort it to Waterloo. Arriving in miserable condition on July 10, 1838, the Cherokees were placed on boats to continue their journey west. The "Trail of Tears", which resulted from the Indian Removal Act passed by the U.S. Congress in 1830, is one of the darkest chapters in American history. This route was designated as the "Trail of Tears Corridor of North Alabama" by resolution of the Alabama Legislature on July 13, 1995. Alabama remains the home of many Cherokee Indians today.