Trail of Tears

Privacy Level: Open (White)
Date: 1830 to Mar 1839
Location: Americamap
Surnames/tags: Cherokee Choctaw Chickasaw
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About the Trail of Tears Team

A Team of the Native Americans Project


  • To provide information and resources about the Trail of Tears
  • To accurately represent the events and people associated with the Trail of Tears



In the early part of the nineteenth century the United States government carried out a systematic removal of indigenous peoples from locations throughout the (present day eastern) United States. By no means the beginning of conflict between European settlers and the Native nations, the 1830 signing of the Indian Removal Act by President Andrew Jackson broadly begins forced removal of these peoples from their homelands.

In the southeastern states and territories prior to 1800, the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Muscogee(Creek) and Seminole were autonomous nations with an estimated total population above 100,000 citizens. They inhabited areas that now include the U.S. States of: Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Florida. The Indian Removal Act was specifically used to force these nations into the so named "Indian Territory" west of the Mississippi River (now the eastern half of the State of Oklahoma) under the guise of protecting their sovereignty.

Watch History Brief: Indian Removal run time 7:18


The first of these nations to be relocated were the Choctaw in 1832. From the outset, the removal process was marked by poor planning and apathy for the well-being of people expected to journey as much as 1000 miles. Travel was difficult, mostly on foot and often during inclement weather. Lack of proper clothing during winter, and sparse rations, caused illness and death. Over the course of the decade these privations suffered by the travelers culminated in the forced death march of the Cherokee in 1838 and 1839. More than 10,000 people (possibly 20,000 even up to 25% of the travelers)* from these nations lost their lives by the end of Removal when the last Cherokee arrived to their new Indian Territory home in March, 1839. This deprivation and loss of life while being forced into the new land came to be known in Cherokee as "NU-NO-DU-NA-TLO-HI-LU" (The Trail Where They Cried), in English The Trail of Tears.

Trail of Tears
Nation Relocation Years Began Journey* Perished*
* The exact number who began the journey and those who perished are estimates as no census was taken during each relocation.


WikiTree Project Links

  • Seminole (WikiTree page needed)
  • Union Indian Agency created 30 June 1874, consolidated the Creek, Choctaw (including Chickasaw), Seminole and Cherokee agencies

Web Sites



  • Anderson, William, ed. (1991). Cherokee Removal: Before and After. Athens, Georgia: University of Georgia Press. ISBN 978-0-8203-1482-2.
  • Bealer, Alex W. (1996) [1972]. Only the Names Remain: The Cherokees and The Trail of Tears. Boston, Massachusetts: Little, Brown. ISBN 978-0-316-08519-9.
  • Carter, Samuel (1976). Cherokee Sunset: A Nation Betrayed. New York: Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-06735-6.
  • Davis, Ethan. (Journal Article) An Administrative Trail of Tears: Indian Removal, The American Journal of Legal History, Vol. 50, No. 1 (Jan 2008-2010), pp. 49-100, Oxford Univ Press
  • Debo, Angie. (1934) The Rise and Fall of the Choctaw Republic. Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press. ISBN 0-8061-1247-6.
  • DeRosier, Arthur H. (1989) The Removal of the Choctaw Indians. Knoxville, Tennessee: University of Tennessee Press. ISBN 0-87049-329-9.
  • Ehle, John (1989) [1988]. Trail of Tears: The Rise and Fall of the Cherokee Nation. New York: Anchor Books. ISBN 0-385-23954-8.
  • Fitzgerald, David; King, Duane (2008). The Cherokee Trail of Tears. Portland, Oregon: Graphic Arts Books. ISBN 978-0-88240-752-4.
  • Foreman, Grant (1989) [1932]. Indian Removal: The Emigration of the Five Civilized Tribes of Indians (11 ed.). Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press. ISBN 0-8061-1172-0.
  • Jahoda, Gloria (1995) [1975]. Trail of Tears: The Story of the American Indian Removal 1813-1855. Henry Holt & Co. ISBN 978-0-517-14677-4.
  • Mann, Barbara Alice (2009). The Tainted Gift: The Disease Method of Frontier Expansion (Native America: Yesterday and Today). Santa Barbara, California: Praeger. ISBN 978-0-313-35338-3, ISBN 0-313-353387
  • Mooney, James (2007) [1888]. King, Duane, ed. Myths of the Cherokee. New York: Barnes & Noble. ISBN 978-0-7607-8340-5.
  • Perdue, Theda; Green, Michael (2008) [2007]. The Cherokee Nation and the Trail of Tears. New York: Penguin Books. ISBN 978-0-14-311367-6.
  • Prucha, Francis (1984). The Great Father: The United States Government and the American Indians. Lincoln, Nebraska: Nebraska Press. ISBN 0-8032-3668-9.
  • Remini, Robert (2001). Andrew Jackson and his Indian Wars. New York: Viking. ISBN 0-670-91025-2.
  • Wallace, Anthony (1993). The Long, Bitter Trail: Andrew Jackson and the Indians (Hardback ed.). New York: Hill and Wang. ISBN 0-8090-6631-9.
  • Wilson, James (1998). The Earth Shall Weep: A History of Native America. New York: Grove Press. ISBN 978-0-8021-3680-0.

Other links that need checking and incorporating above (if not already there)

Trail of Tears
  • US History - The Trail of Tears — The Indian Removals
  • Sequoyah Research Center - Family Stories from the Trail of Tears - taken from the Indian-Pioneer History Collection, Grant Foreman, editor

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Comments: 13

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Are you categorizing the white settlers who bought Cherokee lands in the 1830s? One is Jonathan Simonds.
posted by Karen Lowe
No, only those who were Cherokee (in this case) or of the other four people groups that removed west of the Mississippi River are included.
posted by Ronald Prentice
edited by Ronald Prentice
Hello Deborah, Kathie and Jillaine,

I would be happy to assist here with Choctaw resources. Please let me know how best to support this effort.

Thanks for your consideration.


posted by Ronald Prentice
edited by Ronald Prentice
Please feel to add them, Ronald. Sorry I didn't see this post when you initially added it.
posted by Jillaine Smith
Deborah, I'm cleaning up other NA project pages and finding things that should be here. (The just added long list of web resources.) IF you have time and interest and want to check each of them to see if they're still accurate and otherwise organize them, I'd be most grateful.
posted by Jillaine Smith
Looks like the merge of the duplicate space pages went through. Needs a bit of clean-up, which I'll take a first crack at.
Deborah, there's a duplicate freespace page for Trail of Tears ( We need to merge the two. I asked the Leader body about the naming convention and the preference appears to be without the "Native American:" prefix. Any objections or questions before I proceed?
posted by Jillaine Smith
I never actually did this page so have no idea Jillaine, not sure why my name is here so I will remove it
posted by Terry Wright
Only four muster rolls survive from the Cherokee detachments on Trail of Tears. They are in the collections of the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, OK. I don’t believe any are fully digitized. The 1835 Cherokee Census is often erroneously called the “Trail of Tears Roll” since it was taken only a few years before Removal. There are also limited censuses and muster rolls for the Creek, Choctaw, and Chickasaw who were Removed.
posted by Kathie (Parks) Forbes
Thanks, Kathie, for the most detailed info I have seen to date regarding the Trail of Tears genealogic sources. And, as luck would have it, the Gilcrease seems to be shut down now, not just for Covid but also for major construction. I have several relatives in Oklahoma with Chickasaw ancestry and I am trying to pin down data for 1860 and previous (especially in Mississippi) that would help flesh out family backgrounds and also where surnames came from. To be specific, lots of people think that many surnames were just "assigned" to people by government agents who wanted to assign them a convenient "white" name. From what I hear of the activities of Chickasaw Nation people in Mississippi, however, it sure seems to me that they were pretty sociable and integrated with any number of newcomers who added trade benefits in their communities. In other words, there ought to be records of some sort showing mixed family groupings in their communities in the early 1800s. I have examined early US census records, but so far no names have clicked. Have you had any better luck? (yes, I understand you focus on the Cherokee side, but I expect you have encountered many of the same issues).
posted by Rick Fryrear
Here is a link to a partial transcript of the 1818 Chickasaw annuity roll: and a transcript of an 1837 muster roll is at:

and a transcript of the 1839 Indian Territory census:

The Chickasaw did intermarry and many had white names, sometimes from a white parent, sometimes just picked somewhat at random (a translation, the name of someone they met and liked, an attempt at transliteration...)

You won't find these people in the U.S. Census before Removal, and after Removal only mixed-families that didn't go to Indian Territory (a very small number)

In some cases you will find the Chickasaw enumerated with (sometimes listed as) Choctaw.

posted by Kathie (Parks) Forbes
Looks like the Roster page was merged with this one. So... Where might we find a roster?
posted by Jillaine Smith

December 9, 2014

posted by Paula J