Author Jason Irby Spearheads Placement of ‘Trail of Tears” Panel in McAlmont Community

Join Author Jason Irby and Friends for for the 3rd annual Black Indian and Native American Heritage Fair. The 3rd annual Black Indian and Native American Heritage Month Fair will be held on Saturday November 21st at the G T Ashley McAlmont Community Park 5700 Highway 161 in the community of McAlmont, North Little Rock, Arkansas 72117

We will conduct an announcement and groundbreaking ceremony for the placement of a Trail of Tears IInterpretative Panel within the McAlmont Community Park.

The Trail of Tears (Bell Route) is noted part of Arkansas State Highway 161 which was traveled between Jacksonville and Little Rock. Groups of Choctaws, Muscogees (Creeks), and Chickasaws traveled the route before the Cherokees directed by John Bell. Native American tribes of the Southeastern United States were removed from their homeland to now Oklahoma in the 1830’s and passed through areas of Central Arkansas which included the community now know as McAlmont.

To commemorate it’s 3rd annual acknowledgement of the relationship among people of African descent and Native Americans, the Black Indian and Native American Heritage Month Fair will conduct the groundbreaking activities for the placement of the Interpretative Panel.

Author Jason Irby spearheaded the Black Indian and Native American Heritage Month Fair in Spring 2018. Completion of its establishment was founded by Author Jason Irby and Dr Daniel Littlefield of the Sequoyah National Research Center in November of 2018.

Irby spearheaded the event because the relationship among people of African descent and Native Americans is vast and sometimes complex. Whether the relationship was of friendship, family ties , or slave holding, this story is a story within American history. This story is America’s history.

Event will begin at 10am Saturday November 21st at the G T Ashley McAlmont Park 5700 Highway 161 McAlmont Community, North Little Rock, Arkansas 72117

Irby and Littlefield have partnered with the Community Voices Of McAlmont and Black History Commission of Arkansas. Ty Wilson of Cherokees for Black Indians History and Preservation will also participate.

This project is part of the mission stated by the Arkansas Chapter of the National Trail of Tears Association to share awareness about aspects surrounding the forced removal of Native Americans from their homeland particularly concerning the Five Civilized Tribes (Cherokee, Choctaw, Creek, Chickasaw, and Seminole)

For information contact Jason Irby Innovation Foundation at jasonirbyinnovationfoundation@gmail.com or visit jasonirby.wordpress.com

You may also visit Websites below for further research.

Sequoyah National Research Center

Arkansas Trail of Tears Association

Black History Commission of Arkansas

Cherokees for Black Indian History and Preservation

McAlmont on the Trail of Tears

In 1827, Samson Gray was contracted to build fifteen miles of road from Little Rock to the Bayou of the Two Prairies, where it connected with the road from  Memphis by way of Mouth of Cache (now Clarendon).  He also improved other sections of the road and constructed bridges across the Bayou of the Two Prairies and Bayou Meto.  By the end of the year, the Military Road from Crittenden’s Ferry in North Little Rock to Fort Smith was nearly complete, providing an east-west road system across Arkansas Territory.  Due to its location on the Memphis to Little Rock Road, McAlmont was a witness site in the story of Indian removal along the road.  After the passage of the Indian Removal Act in 1830, contingents of Choctaws, Muscogees (Creeks), Chickasaws,  Cherokees and their slaves passed through the site.  

Choctaws at McAlmont

The 1830 Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek stipulated that the Choctaws relocate from their homelands in Mississippi to Indian Territory west of Arkansas.  The tribe began removing in 1831, some traveling the Memphis to Little Rock Road and others the old Post Road from Arkansas Post to Cadron.

The first Choctaws to reach McAlmont were the 18 or 20 who were driving a herd of about 100 horses.  Ponies were significant in Choctaw culture and were a vital part of the Choctaw economy, and the Choctaws were determined to get as many of their animals to the West as possible. They had crossed the Mississippi at Memphis, pushed through the swamps of eastern Arkansas on the Military Road, and reached  McAlmont about December 18, 1831.

The first major groups of Choctaws to pass McAlmont had traveled by steamboat to Arkansas Post in late November 1831.  Stranded there for some time in bitterly cold weather, most traveled overland from the Post on the Post Road to its juncture with the Military Road at what is now Carlisle and then traveled the Military Road toward Little Rock.  First was Chief David Folsom’s party of 594, who left Arkansas Post on December 13 and were at McAlmont on December 20, when disbursing agent Lt. S. V. R. Ryan bought fifteen bundles of fodder from local farmer Abraham Secrest.  A party of about 1100 followers of Nitakachi (“Says it is day”), conducted by Wharton Rector, reached McAlmont about January 14.  Finally, a group of about 440, driving a herd of horses, was led by Robert M. Jones, was conducted by agent Childress.  They reached McAlmont about  January 21, 1832.

During the fall and winter of 1832, numerous removal parties trekked west across Arkansas.  In November, approximately 1,000 Choctaws arrived in Memphis.  Because 400 of the Choctaws refused to board the transport boats, Lieutenant Joseph Phillips escorted them on the road from Memphis to Little Rock before reuniting with the steamboat detachment at Rock Roe.  They reached Mary Black’s public house near Tollville, southeast of Hazen in the Grand Prairie, in mid-November 1832 and were at McAlmont later that month before stopping in Little Rock. Colonel Wharton Rector led a removal party of 1,900 Choctaws.  Passing through the Grand Prairie on November 19-20, 1832, they passed McAlmont near the end of the month.  Lt. William R. Montgomery and Lt. Isaac P. Simonton’s detachment of 1,800 Choctaws departed from Memphis, spent several days on the road, and reached McAlmont in December. 

Choctaw removal resumed in the winter of 1833, when a removal party of nearly 1,000 arrived in Memphis. While some chose to travel by steamboat to Rock Roe, about 600 crossed the Mississippi River on November 2.  They reunited at Rock Roe.  At Mary Black’s in the Grand Prairie, they split again, and a group of 176 under John M. Millard took the old Post Road from near present-day Carlisle to Erwin’s settlement, now Old Austin.  The remainder traveled through Gray’s settlement at Bayou Meto and passed McAlmont about November 26.

Muscogees (Creeks) at McAlmont 

Despite the fact that it was not intended to provide for Indian removal, powers granted by the Treaty of Washington (1832) were used by United States officials to forcibly relocate Creeks from their homelands.

A caravan of approximately 630 Muscogee Creeks, 115 slaves, and 200 horses departed from Alabama in late 1834.  Conducted by John Page and William Beattie, the contingent divided at Memphis with one group going overland in the direction of Little Rock and the other boarding the steamboat Harry Hill bound for the capital. Beattie’s overland party reached McAlmont about February 23, 1835.

A removal party conducted by Lieutenant J.T. Sprague reached Memphis on October 9, 1836. Before continuing to Arkansas, they divided, some 700 of the Creeks traveling west on the overland route and others going by water. The overland party passed McAlmont in either late October or early November of that year.

This group was followed shortly by another led by Lt. R. B. Screven.  Numbering 3000, they had traveled overland and by steamboat from Memphis to Rock Roe, and from there adross the Grand Prairie, reaching McAlmont about November 18.

The last group of the 1836-37 season was directed by Lt. Edward Deas and came overland from Rock Roe.  By the time they reached McAlmont in late November stragglers from not only that party but from others were strung out along the Memphis road.  

Chickasaws at McAlmont

Chickasaw removal was authorized by the Treaty of Pontotoc (1832) and a Supplemental Treaty signed in 1834.  This tribe had negotiated extensively with the federal government so that they could retain some level of control over how and when they moved west.  Therefore, the Chickasaws did not begin relocating until 1837. 

The first Chickasaw removal party to march from their homelands in the southeast to Indian Territory consisted of about 500 Chickasaws conducted by J. M. Millard.  They left Memphis on July 7, 1837 and proceeded to Little Rock. The intense heat of the summer forced Millard and his group to travel primarily at night.  Receiving their government rations at Mary Black’s on July 21, 1837, the Chickasaws continued and were at McAlmont about  July 24.

Chickasaw removal resumed in the fall of 1837.  Several groups, notable for their large size, traveled across the state during this time.  Among these was a removal party of almost 4,000 Chickasaws who reached Memphis in early November.  Approximately 3,000 embarked on the steamboats bound for Fort Coffee in Indian Territory while 1,000 Chickasaws chose to take the overland route and herd the group’s more than 3,000 horses through the area in December.

In early 1838, Robert Crockett conducted a small group of Chickasaws with livestock belonging to the Clean House Chickasaws, who had gone from Arkansas Post to Little Rock by steamboat.  Crockett’s group left Arkansas Post on February 1 and traveled the old Post Road until it intersected with the Military Road near Carlisle.  They then took the Military Road, reaching McAlmont about a week later.

An important Chickasaw leader named Ishtehotopa and his family relocated west in July of 1838.  Ishtehotopa was the minko of the Chickasaw Nation, meaning that he held the position of spiritual and social leader for the tribe.  They were at McAlmont in late July.

In the fall of 1838, Colonel A.M.M. Upshaw conducted the last major removal party of Chickasaws to pass through this region. The caravan of 299 Chickasaws, along with their livestock and personal possessions, were hampered by poor weather and road conditions as they progressed towards Little Rock.  They reached McAlmont about November 23.

Cherokees at McAlmont

Signed in 1835, the Treaty of New Echota provided for the removal of all Cherokees east of the Mississippi River.  

Only one removal party of this tribe passed McAlmont on their way to Indian Territory. Conducted by John Bell and Lt. Edward Deas, the group of 660 Cherokees left from Memphis on November 23, 1838.  They arrived at McAlmont about December 4.

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