Missouri Trail of Tears Resources

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Missouri Trail of Tears member Dr. William “Bill” Ambrose has spent quite a bit of time putting together a collection of monographs telling the story of some aspects of the Trail of Tears as it passed through Missouri. We think you will enjoy these tales.

We are also glad to have Rocky Miller joining the Monograph Authors Club!

We are also soliciting monographs from ToTA members and academics working in the field.

Missouri Trail of Tears Resources

Coffee and Geography
Java and geography!

The resources page is a curated collection of web links to sites, books, videos, and other documents found across the internet.


A GLO from the 1830s with a modern GIS overlay showing possible Missouri Trail of Tears Resources
A GLO from the 1880s with modern GIS data overlain. A GLO from the 1830s with a modern GIS overlay showing possible Missouri Trail of Tears Resources

Missouri Trail of Tears Resources: Did you know that the United States once had an Office of the Surveyor General?  They signed off on thousands of General Land Office (GLO) plats (diagrams). GLOs divide the West into square mile partitions. Those were given to railroads or broken down further, and sold or transferred to settlers. These are the foundational documents of all property rights in much of the United States west of the original colonies. They are a witness to understanding what occurred in the newly formed State of Missouri in the 1830s. This was approximately the same time the Cherokee Tribe were relocated through Missouri.

Under the GLO page there is sub page which features an interactive web map which shows our progress in obtaining and integrating GLOs from the State of Missouri into our GIS.

3D Diorama Along the Trail of Tears

By William Ambrose

On the western side of the state of Missouri, the Trail of Tears is generally the Springfield to St. Louis Road.  The General Land Office (GLO) surveyors, those earliest government surveyors who surveyed the unsettled frontier lands ahead of any land sales, were required to draw the existing roads on the township plats beginning at about the time they surveyed the western half of Missouri.  The Springfield to St. Louis Road was pre-historic – it was a trace on the ground from Springfield to St. Louis used by Native Americans for travel for trade and hunting long before Americans arrived in the state.  The GLOs were the building blocks of President Jefferson’s rectilinear survey system, known as the Public Land Survey System, created by the Land Ordinance of 1785, a federal law. The system was laid out in 6-mile-by-6-mile squares, each square being known by its north-south “Township” number and its east-west “Range” number. 


By William Ambrose

From 1837 to 1839, the Federal Government forcibly removed 17,000 Cherokees from their centuries-old homelands in Georgia, Tennessee, North and South Carolina, and Alabama.  The Cherokee families were rounded up at gunpoint by Federal troops, held prisoner in detention camps, divided up into detachments of about 1000 people, and then forced to walk the 1000 miles to “Indian Territory,” now Oklahoma. Approximately 4000 died during that process. 

If you have any suggestions, comments, or critiques please email