Tales and Trails of Wakarusa,  by A. M. Harvey

The Trail of the Sac and Fox

     IT was during the '40's that the Sac and Fox Indians started on their long journey to take up their home in the land provided for them in Kansas, being a portion of the present counties of Lyon, Osage, and Franklin. In the year 1846 a large number of them had camped in the Kansas River Valley near the present site of Topeka, and because of their friendship with the Shawnees they were permitted to remain there for some time before moving on. Many of them formed attachments and friendships among the Shawnees and Pottawatomies, and remained with them. After the main body of the Sac and Fox moved on to their own lands, their associations with the Shawnees and other friendly Indians were such that there was much travel back and forth.

     The trails leading south from the Kansas River Valley all fell into the "Oregon" or "California" road, and along that the Indians traveled to the trading village of Carthage, a few miles northeast of the present village of Berryton. From there, several trails set of toward the Sac and Fox lands. One of the principal trails wound over the hills and down through a long ravine to the Wakarusa Valley, and across that river at the ford where the great stone bridge now stands, due south of Berryton; and from there it wound around the hill through the woods and again over the plains. Afterwards a public road was laid out upon this trail, called, in the Shawnee County records, the "Sac and Fox Road," but usually spoken of as the "Ottawa State Road."

     Just south of the Wakarusa crossing and a few hundred yards around the brow of the hill, there lies a parcel of level ground, which was an ideal place for camping. It is now occupied by the public road, and church and school-house grounds. This was a famous camping place for the Sac and Fox and all other Indians who used the trail. If you step up to the stone fence just east of the school-house, looking over you will notice a deep ditch washed out down the creek bank, on the side of where a large oak tree stands, with many of its roots exposed. This ditch marks the path first used by the Indians as they went back and forth from the camping ground to the spring of sweet, beautiful water that flows from out the rocks at the foot of the hill.

     Modern history of this portion of the valley begins with this camping place. It was not only a resting place, but a place where consultations and conferences were held, and where the eloquent ones told of the glory of Black Hawk, the wisdom of Keokok, and the splendid history of their tribe. It was said that the older men were despondent, but that the younger men thought that there was a possibility of rebuilding their tribal fortunes in the new country, and that some day they would be as powerful and as prosperous as they had hoped to be in Iowa and upon other lands belonging to them.

     But the Sac and Fox are gone; the trail knows them no more the sweet waters still flow from the beautiful spring, and a white man who never knew them has built a house near by on the bluff by the side of the road.

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