HMdb.org THE HISTORICAL
MARKER DATABASE
            “Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
  Home  — My Markers  — Add A Marker  — Marker Series  — Links & Books  — Forum  — About Us
Near Rochester in Fulton County, Indiana — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
Father Petit and the Potawatomi 'Trail of Death'
— Indiana to Kansas, September 4 - November 4, 1838 —
 
Left - Text Section - - Father Petit and the Potawatomi 'Trail of Death' Marker Photo, Click for full size
By Courtesy:: Carly C. Kindig, September 5, 2010
1. Left - Text Section - - Father Petit and the Potawatomi 'Trail of Death' Marker
(Click on any of these photos to see the details.)
 
Inscription. Rev. Benjamin Marie Petit, of the City of Rennes, France, arrived as the Catholic missionary to the Potawatomi Indians in northern Indiana in November 1837. By June 1838, he had learned much of their difficult language and their culture, and had instructed and baptized many. “‘We were orphans,’ they said to me, ‘and as if in darkness, but you appeared among us like a great light, and we live’,” Father Petit wrote to his mother in France. The Indians begged their “Father Black Robe” to accompany them on their forced removal from Indiana in September 1838, His superior, Bishop Simon Brute of Vincennes, Indiana, finally consented, in time for him to join them enroute at Danville, Ill., ministering to their needs, both spiritual and material on their march to Kansas territory.

The Potawatomi “Trail of Death” had started at Menominee’s village south of Plymouth, down the Michigan Road (Old Hwy. 31), through Rochester on Main Street, through Logansport, and along the north side of the Wabash River to cross into Illinois at Danville. He baptized the dying children, among them newly born “who with their first step passed from earthly exile to the heavenly sojourn,” according to one of his letters, which were published by the Indiana Historical Society in 1941.

In
 
Right - Map Section - - Father Petit and the Potawatomi 'Trail of Death' Marker Photo, Click for full size
By Courtesy:: Carly C. Kindig, September 5, 2010
2. Right - Map Section - - Father Petit and the Potawatomi 'Trail of Death' Marker
Map by T. Hamilton, Fulton County Historical Society, Rochester, indiana, 1996
 
them he vividly describes the hardships and the anguish of “my poor Christians, under a burning noonday sun, amidst clouds of dust, marching in line, surrounded by soldiers who were hurrying their steps” and the heartbreak of the Indians as they buried their loved ones and marched on. Across the great prairies of Illinois they marched, crossed the Mississippi River at Quincy, and then made their way through Missouri to enter Kansas territory south of Independence, Missouri. About 40 Indians died on the march, mostly children. Father Petit blessed each grave. He was himself at times sick with fever.

After placing the Potawatomi in the spiritual hands of Jesuit Father Christian Hoecken at the the Sugar Creek Mission in Kansas on Nov. 4, 1838, Father Petit again fell sick with fever and painful open sores. On Jan. 2 he started by horseback back to Indiana, accompanied by Abram Burnett (Nan-Wesh-Mah), a full-blood Potawatomi friend, but again was taken ill. With three open sores draining his strength, he rode from Jefferson City in an open wagon, the roads rough and rain frequent. He reached the Jesuit seminary at St. Louis University on January 15. The fathers gave him all the medical attention and care they could, but he grew weaker and weaker. Father John A. Elet, then rector-president of St. Louis University, later wrote that he placed a crucifix to
 
Entrance to "Fulton County Museum" Building Photo, Click for full size
By Courtesy:: Carly C. Kindig, September 5, 2010
3. Entrance to "Fulton County Museum" Building
 
Father Petit’s dying lips and twice he kissed it tenderly. He lay in agony and finally expired 20 minutes before midnight, Feb. 10, 1839, a martyr to his duty and his extraordinary devotion and love for his Potawatomi family. He had lived but 27 years and 10 months.

Father Petit died in the Jesuit seminary building at 9th and Washington Streets and was buried in the old cemetery at 7th Street and St. Charles Ave. In 1856 the cemetery was moved to make way for downtown St. Louis. At that time, Father Edward Sorin, founder of Notre Dame University, South Bend, Ind., came and took Father Petit’s body back to Indiana. Father Petit’s remains rest under the Log Chapel at the University of Notre Dame.

“In name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. If it should please God to send me death, I accept it in all love and submission to his amiable Providence and I hope that his mercy will have pity on me at the last moment. I commend myself to Mary now and at the hour of my death,”

From Father Petit’s will, written Aug. 17, 1837, at Vincennes, Indiana.
 
Erected 1997 by Fulton County Historical Society’s Indian Awareness Center, Rochester, IN by Howard Kline, Florissant, Mo. and Tom Hamilton, Leesburg, Ind.
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the
 
Full View - - Father Petit and the Potawatomi 'Trail of Death' Marker Photo, Click for full size
By Courtesy:: Carly C. Kindig, September 5, 2010
4. Full View - - Father Petit and the Potawatomi 'Trail of Death' Marker
 
Potawatomi - Trail of Death marker series.
 
Location. 41° 6.558′ N, 86° 14.456′ W. Marker is near Rochester, Indiana, in Fulton County. Marker is on U.S. 31 south of County Route W 375 N, on the right when traveling south. Click for map. Located at the South end (and in front) of - - the Fulton County Museum building. Marker is at or near this postal address: 37 E. 375 N. Rochester, Indiana, Rochester IN 46975, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 4 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Fulton County War Memorial (within shouting distance of this marker); William Polke House (within shouting distance of this marker); Michigan Road (approx. 1.1 miles away); Site of Indian Village Chippewa-Nung (approx. 1.1 miles away); The Underground Railroad (approx. 3.3 miles away); W. W. I War Memorial (approx. 3.3 miles away); Revolutionary War Memorial (approx. 3.3 miles away); Fulton County Courthouses (approx. 3.3 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Rochester.
 
More about this marker. These plaques placed in 1997 by Fulton County Historical Society’s Indian Awareness Center, Rochester, Indiana; by Howard Kline, Florissant, Mo.,
in memory of his Potawatomi grandfather Adam Black Fox; and by Tom Hamilton, Leesburg, Ind., who designed these plaques, a descendent of Abram Burnett.

Sketch of Fr. Petit. Adapted from an 1837 George Winter painting, courtesy Mrs. Cable Bail, Lafayette, Ind.
 
Wide View - - Father Petit and the Potawatomi 'Trail of Death' Marker Photo, Click for full size
By Courtesy:: Carly C. Kindig, September 5, 2010
5. Wide View - - Father Petit and the Potawatomi 'Trail of Death' Marker
 

 
Also see . . .
1. "Fulton County Museum" : :. (Courtesy of Official Web-Site "Potawatomi - Trail of Death Association" Shirley Willard / Rochester, Indiana.) This article has photos of the marker and other details. (Submitted on September 9, 2010, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana.) 

2. History and More Items:. This Official Web-site of the "Potawatomi Trail of Death Association" (Shirley Willard / Rochester, Indiana) is the center of activity and information - with many excellent links. (Submitted on September 9, 2010, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana.) 

3. Another - Trail of Death map::. Also, some facts of things that happened along the way of travel. (Submitted on September 9, 2010, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana.) 

4. Eye-witness Journals, Letters, & Newspaper Items::. (Courtesy:: Mr. Foley) - A good Secondary Source location for a number of other reports. (Submitted on September 9, 2010, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana.) 

5. Annual - - "Trail of Courage" - Living History Festival::. Courtesy the official web-site of the "Fulton County Historical Society is a view of the now "Trail of Courage" Living History Festival reflecting on the past "Trail of Death". (Submitted on January 12, 2011, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana.) 

6. Video - -> "Trail of Courage 2010" ::. Courtesy "The Rochester Sentinel" "Sentinel Cam" (rochsent.com) web-site -> is a fine view of the 2010 "Trail of Courage - Living History Festival". (Submitted on January 12, 2011, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana.) 
 
"Fulton County Museum" Photo, Click for full size
By Courtesy:: Carly C. Kindig, September 5, 2010
6. "Fulton County Museum"
The marker is on the lower right in the above photo - in front of the "Fulton County Museum".
 

7. Video - - "The Potawatomi Trail of Death" ::. Courtesy youtube.com :: An insightful and well done video ! ! (Submitted on April 20, 2011, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana.) 
 
Marker on the Far Left - - "Fulton County Museum" Photo, Click for full size
By Courtesy:: Carly C. Kindig, September 5, 2010
7. Marker on the Far Left - - "Fulton County Museum"
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on September 9, 2010, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana. This page has been viewed 918 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. submitted on September 9, 2010, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana. • Syd Whittle was the editor who published this page.
 
Recommend or Share This Page.  
Share on Tumblr


•••
More Search Options
 
Markers
Near You

 
Categories

 
States & Provinces

 
Counties
Click to List


 
Countries

Page composed
in 216 ms.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
To search within this page, hold down the Ctrl key and press F.
On an Apple computer,
hold down the Apple key and press F.