Colonel Miles Hicks Vernon (Monograph 18)

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Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

By Mark Spangler, 2018

Summary of Col. Miles Vernon:

Born Virginia March 26, 1786

Removed as a youth to current Meigs County, TN.

Served in Col. Coffee’s Tennessee regiment with Jackson at New Orleans War of 1812

Instrumental in formation of Meigs County TN and served 2 terms as their State Senator.

As early as 1837-38 selected a site near family in current Laclede County MO upon which he filed a pre-emption. This fact is actually relayed by Dr. Morrow in his Trail of Tears journal. Vernon moved his immediate family to this site around 1840.

Involved personally in both the Cherokee round-up and overland removal on the northern route. Vernon is described by Stephen Foreman in a letter from June 15, 1838 stating:

“. . . all the families in the neighborhood of Candy’s Creek were removed from our own humble dwellings, to this place from which I now write you. There is no fort here, but there is a company of volunteers stationed at this place with a Mr. Vernon at their head, as Capt. There are about three hundred Cherokees now collected here, and others are still coming in. With regard to Capt. Vernon, I can say that he has acquitted himself well in collecting together the Cherokees in this settlement. We had long been looking for this day, the noted day, when we were to be deprived of our rights and interests in this nation, without our consent.” Further, “In some parts of the nation and under certain officers Cherokees have been driven out of their houses at the point of the bayonet, and forced along the road or through the woods, like so many cattle or hogs, and in some cases have not even been allowed the privilege of walking over on foot logs, or pulling off their shoes or mackasins when coming to a creek. In this part of the Nation I think it may safely be said, the Cherokees have generally been treated with much respect, especially those collected by Captain Vernon. Neither the Captain nor any of his men, had even a sword with them when they came for us on the 12th inst. … (from The Life and Times of Reverend Stephen Foreman by Cooleela Faulkner, pg. 205)

Served as wagon master on the Old Field/Stephen Foreman group on the northern route of TOT.

After removing to current Laclede County, elected to 3 terms as state senator for the county beginning in 1850.

Instrumental in formation of new counties in western Missouri, Vernon County named in his honor.

Fled Missouri with Governor Jackson at outset of Civil War, served in the Confederate Army for the duration.

Died in 1866 at Rolla, buried on his family farm west of Lebanon MO.

Point of emphasis – it is extremely rare for a Cherokee to speak well of any of those directly involved in the removal process. Stephen Foreman’s words speak volumes about the character of Miles Vernon, but his story has not been told up to this point.

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. 

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