The caravan moved slowly up the dirt road. They were an odd assortment of wagons; some were covered, while others were open to the winter cold. Some were drawn by horses, and others by mules. Some had passengers, but most of the men, women, and children walked slowly beside the wagons. They looked t...
<p>The caravan moved slowly up the dirt road. They were an odd assortment of wagons; some were covered, while others were open to the winter cold. Some were drawn by horses, and others by mules. Some had passengers, but most of the men, women, and children walked slowly beside the wagons. They looked tired, cold, and gaunt.</p>
<p>Hopkinsville, Kentucky turned out for their passing. It was a chance to see history in the making. The Cherokee Nation was being removed from their homes in the south and relocated to land west of the Mississippi River. Their route would come to be called the “Trail of Tears.”</p>
<p>The men and women of Hopkinsville were shocked by the condition of the Cherokees. It was the coldest winter in twenty years, and few of the Native Americans had winter clothing. The town grieved for them, and rallied to their aid. Men and women walked with them and carried their packs through town, and on down the frozen road. Men picked up small Cherokee children exhausted from the march and carried them on their shoulders.</p>
<p>About a mile west of town, the caravan stopped for the night. A delegation from the town, including the mayor himself, arrived and persuaded Captain Silas Greentree of the Georgia militia to allow three days rest before the caravan moved on. The discussion was heated, but a threat to block the road with the county militia won the day. The next morning, a steady stream of wagons began arriving with food, clothing, blankets and shoes. The people of Hopkinsville had embraced the Cherokee Nation.</p>
<p>Will Stewart was milking his cow when he heard the noise – a quiet rustling among the hay in the loft. He quietly picked up the axe near the barn door and crept up the loft steps. On a small, western Kentucky farm in 1838, there was little enough food for people. There was none for varmints.</p>
<p>At the top of the steps Will stood, listening, with the axe poised to strike. His eyes scanned the floor and the haystacks carefully. Nothing seemed out of place. He tiptoed to the feed barrel and cautiously looked inside. As he gazed into the wooden barrel, a small noise to his left startled him. He was certain he’d heard a groan from the haystack.</p>
<p>“You might as well come out,” he said loudly. “I know you’re here.”</p>
<p>Nothing moved. He began prodding at the hay with his right foot, until suddenly he struck something solid. A groan ros...