“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Austin in Lonoke County, Arkansas — The American South (West South Central)

Oakland Grove (Old Austin)

Short Cut to Indian Territory 1832-1838


—Trail of Tears Through Arkansas —

Oakland Grove (Old Austin) Marker image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, April 9, 2018
1. Oakland Grove (Old Austin) Marker
Inscription. In 1807, citizens of Crystal Hill built a road to connect Cadron and Arkansas Post. From Cadron the road was built almost due east and continued until they reached the Wattensaw. At the Wattensaw swamps they found an Indian path that led south to Arkansas Post. This road was the first road built in what would become Arkansas.

In 1826 James Erwin bought land located along the Cadron/Arkansas Post road. By 1828, the community of Oakland Grove was established in the vicinity of Erwin's land. By 1861, the community was known as Austin.

In 1831, Choctaw removal began across Arkansas Territory. By 1832, the Arkansas officials were looking for a better plan of removal. They decided to work on the Cadron/Arkansas Post road and bring Choctaws heading to Fort Smith across this cut off. Bringing the Choctaws this route would cut off 40 miles of the journey and keep these parties out of the Little Rock area.

James Erwin became a contractor for food rations, his land a rations stand and a camping place for parties traveling the road. During 1832 and 1833, about 2,100 Choctaws traveled this route including Chief Moshulatubbe.

By 1836, Muscogee (Creeks) removal started and Erwin hired out his wagons and teams, provided rations for the people and the animals, and provided blacksmith services. The Muscogee
Oakland Grove (Old Austin) Short Cut to Indian Territory 1832-1838 Marker. image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, April 9, 2018
2. Oakland Grove (Old Austin) Short Cut to Indian Territory 1832-1838 Marker.
parties using this route started arriving the summer of 1836. By the time the last group passed Erwin's Stand in the winter of 1837-1838, about 10,000 Muscogees had traveled this route. Many camped in the area.

Captain Francis Belton describing the conditions his party faced:
"September 11, 1836. Halt at Erwins. During the passage of the prairie it has with the exception of two days of scorching sun, rained almost all day and night. The situation of the Indians is deplorable. The sick exceed fifty and death occasionally carries off the weakest. The very elements are against us. The wagons are small miserable old vehicles with poor teams and harness but better cannot be done. The banks of the water courses are quagmires, steep and rocky the road mere cutouts without draining or causeways."

Three Important Indian Leaders That Camped With Their Tribal Groups Near Where You Are Standing

Choctaw Chief
Moshulatubbe became Chief of the Northern District of the Choctaw Nation in 1809. He gained his warrior status by exploits against the Osage. He served with Andrew Jackson against the Muscogees in 1813-1814. He did not like the missionaries influence in Mississippi and decided to remove to the part of Indian Territory west of Fort Smith. He and his group were at Erwin's Stand, November 1832 on their way west.

Muscogee (Creek)
Prisoner of War
Neomathia was a Muscogee leader that resisted removal. He and other "hostiles" were captured in the summer of 1836 in Alabama. The men and boys, including Neomathia who was about eighty, were handcuffed, chained and marched double- file ninety miles to Montgomery. From there they were placed on Steamboats and transported to Rock Roe, Arkansas Territory At this point they started overland and reached Erwin's Stand August 12, 1836.

Opothle Yahola
Muscogee Leader
Opothle Yahola was a leader of the Upper Creek faction of the Muscogee Nation. His faction was termed the "friendly" Creeks as they had helped put down and capture the "hostiles." Opothle Yahola's government-led group reached Erwin's Stand on November 6, 1836. While camped at Erwin's stand, Opothle Yahola sent a letter to Governor James S. Conway requesting permission to camp in Arkansas until his party and the Muscogee factions already in Indian Territory could meet at council. Conway refused but offered troops to facilitate a meeting at Fort Gibson.
Erected by Arkansas chapter, Trail of Tears Association, Heritage Trail Partners Inc. Arkansas Department of Heritage.
Marker series. This marker is included in the Trail of Tears marker series.
Location. 34° 59.033′ N, 91° 57.911′ W. Marker is in Austin, Arkansas, in Lonoke County. Marker is at the intersection of Ray Sowell Road and State Route 38, on the right when traveling west on Ray Sowell Road. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: Ray Sowell Road, Austin AR 72007, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 13 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Austin (here, next to this marker); Austin in the Civil War (a few steps from this marker); Bayou Meto Historic Site (approx. 10.8 miles away); Bayou Metre Hornets (approx. 10.8 miles away); The Memphis to Little Rock Railroad (approx. 12.4 miles away); The Trail of Tears through Jacksonville (approx. 12.4 miles away); They Passed This Way (approx. 12.4 miles away); The Brigade Moved Forward (approx. 12.4 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Austin.
Categories. Native AmericansRoads & VehiclesSettlements & Settlers
Credits. This page was last revised on April 22, 2018. This page originally submitted on April 22, 2018, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page has been viewed 78 times since then. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on April 22, 2018, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.
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