We Added a New Map!

By | September 22, 2022

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

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Its NToTA’s 25th!

The 25th National Trail of Tears Association‘s Annual Conference & Symposium starts tomorrow. Check it out! Especially, the conference program.

New: The Interactive Lt. B.B. Cannon Journal Map

The Journal of BB Cannon is considered one of the best resources for exploring the history of the northern route of the Trail of Tears. Along with sites from his journal, we have added detailed receipts of the purchases made by the Canon detachment. These invoices add to the story and reflect upon the agricultural capacity of the places the detachment passed through.

A screenshot of the Cannon Journal Interactive Map

Our Volunteers

Thanks to volunteer researchers like MO Chapter of the TOTA, founding member and treasurer, & National TOTA, Missouri Representative on the ToT national board, State Park Superintendent Denise Dowling, who combed through the National Archives, we have access to these important records.

Map Accuracy?

We mapped the locations which correspond to the daily entries in Lieutenant Cannon’s journal. These map points should NOT be considered authoritative. They are our first attempt at interpreting the journal. As scholars, researchers, and others review these maps and offer comments, we believe the maps will increase in accuracy.

To read Lt. Cannon’s journal and launch the interactive map go here :

Speakers Are We

In another bit of good news, Dr. Bill Ambrose and cartographer Chis Dunn have been accepted to join the Missouri Humanities Council (MHC) and the Historical Society of Missouri’s  2022-2024 Speakers’ Bureau. These organizations will allow us to share the information we’ve gathered with the public and professionals researching this topic. We believe we are the first team granted this amazing honor.

Our Speaker’s Bureau Application Narrative:

“The Missouri public generally lacks even a rudimentary knowledge about the Trail of Tears across their state. This presentation will inform the state’s citizens about the important part their ancestors played in the Cherokee removal story.

Unlike all the other 18 forward-looking National Historic Trails, the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail reveals the dark side of the progression of westward settlement. This trail presentation will relate a derisive story of purposeful discrimination, greed, and segregation by federal and state governments and private citizens leading to a tragedy for the Cherokee Nation, and ultimately, a permanent crimson stain on America.

And the focus of the interpretation of the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail, from its establishment by Congress in 1986, has generally been to better define the elements of the tragedy at every known and newly-discovered point along the Trail. Additionally, a great deal of new information has been found about the exact location of the Trail in Missouri and a very different Trail story. It is a story of care and effort extended by many of the earliest Missouri settlers and farmers to aid the Cherokees on their trek across frontier Missouri.

It is a brand-new understanding of the Trail of Tears based on newly discovered documents from almost 200-year-old contemporaneous government records. By applying the newest digital and geographic information system technology to the newly discovered information, the Trail story comes to life across current and contemporaneous landowner plats and multiple geographic information layers yielding a much richer understanding of the Missouri Story of the Trail of Tears.”

– Ambrose and Dunn MHC Speakers Bureau Presentation Application, 2022

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 Chris.Dunn@GeoVelo.com

2 thoughts on “We Added a New Map!

  1. DrBill

    Chris. This website is amazing and well organized. The participants here at the conference are impressed including the GIS guy in Arkansas. He is a GIS professional. I have been working here demonstrating the site and map today on our field trip in the very center of the Cherokee origins You done good!

  2. Nancy Allen

    Dr. Bill,
    During the Trail Tears National Conference in Cherokee NC , I enjoyed visiting with you. I was so pleased to learn about your interactive map of the Hilderbrand Detachment interactive map. I appreciated your assistance in viewing it and enjoyed the experience. It is very giving of you to provide this to the public. Thanks so much for all your work.

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