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Local History

Bicyclists Trace Trail of Tears

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http://ozarkspub.vo.llnwd.net/o37/KSMU/audio/mp3/bicyclists_6837.mp3

Fourteen members of the Cherokee nation are riding their bicycles along the Trail of Tears this month. Their journey brings them to Springfield today. KSMU's Missy Shelton reports.

Fourteen members of the Cherokee nation are scheduled to arrive in Springfield today on their bicycles. These riders are tracing the 1,000 mile Trail of Tears, which many of their ancestors walked in the winter months from 1838 to 1839. This ride is called “Remember the Removal” and participants come from small Oklahoma communities. They began their journey in Georgia earlier this month. Before he started out from Lebanon, Missouri this morning, I spoke with rider Baron O’Field. He says he had family members who walked the Trail of Tears.

O’Field says, “I did a little research in the days prior to starting this project. And I found out that I have two relatives who walked the trail. One by the name of Evan Jones who was the great great-grandfather on my mother’s side. Another gentleman by the name of Captain O’Field, who was a steam boat captain, was on my dad’s side. I found out that Evan Jones led a detachment of Cherokee citizens from Georgia. They came to a water route and met Captain O’Field and the two became best friends.”

Baron O’Field says this is the second time that he’s done the bike ride along the Trail of Tears. He says it’s a challenging ride and walking it, like his ancestors did, would be even more difficult.

O’Field says, “I can’t imagine doing it myself. I couldn’t imagine walking 1,000 miles up hills, up mountains, in cold weather.”

The riders are scheduled to arrive in Springfield this afternoon, stay in Springfield for a rest day tomorrow, and then bike 55 miles to Cassville Sunday. The group is expected to end its ride in Oklahoma around June 25th.