The Etowah Historical Society’s President, Danny Crownover, announces a special free opening of Alabama’s first Trail of Tears Memorial on October 7th, from 10:00 A.M. until 6:30 P.M.
It will be opened after 176 years to the week that the Cherokees of Northeast Alabama were forced to leave to Oklahoma. The special opening is located at 2829 West Meighan Blvd.(U.S. 431), Gadsden Alabama.
There is Indian flute music at the memorial and an Indian exhibit on display. The National Park Service has provided a 22 minutes Trail of Tears video.
Also, real Cherokee Indian crafts will be available for sale in the Society’s coffee and souvenir shop
The Etowah Historical Society received state funding for the 30 panels. Part of the exhibit were also donated from the City of Gadsden, and material dealers, Gadsden Area Tourism and many individuals.
The Alabama Trail of Tears Memorial was constructed like a trail itself where one walks along an imaginary trail to learn about the Cherokees forced hardships to Oklahoma. The 30 metal wayside explanatory panels were designed by Danny Crownover and members of the Etowah Historical Society.
The memorial is located inside a courtyard next to the Etowah Historical Society. There are also drawings showing the Southeast Native Americans way of life and how they lived.
Among the memorial, there are native species of plants that the Indian used, such as yuccas, river cane, and plants for food such as corn, pumpkins, squash and tomatoes.
Danny is on the board of the Alabama Trail of Tears Association. One of the reason he created this memorial through the Etowah Historical Society was because of his Cherokee heritage through the Chickamauga Indians on his dad’s side. On his mother’s side he is descended from one of Major Vann’s daughter.
Civil War heroine Emma Sansom was a half Cherokee. Her mother was Lemila Vann, a full blooded Cherokee and niece of Major Vann.
Crownover’s Cherokee family never went on the Trail of Tears but chose to become U.S. citizens and hide in the Sweeten Cove/Battle Creek area of Tennessee. It was by fate that some of them probably saw the Cherokees being forced to go west on the Bell route.
The Trail Of Tears memorial in Gadsden is the first for Alabama and is one of the largest in the Southeast.
Crownover believes that eventually the Memorial will be certified by the National Park Service as part of their National Historic Trail System. Certification has already been extended to small Trail of Tears sites located in Fort Payne, Waterloo and Tuscumbia, Alabama.
The Trail of Tears Memorial not only involves the Cherokee’s but also includes the Muscogees (Creek) Tribe. The memorial also speaks for the Chickasaws, Seminoles and the Choctaws who had similar Trail of Tears.
Here in Etowah County, there were at least four Creek Trail of Tears including the one that Cherokee came through on their way out west. This makes a total of five Trail Of Tears in the county.
For more information on the Trail of Tears, CLICK HERE