2016 TRAIL OF COURAGE
|Fulton County Historical Society
Located in North Central Indiana
|Sept. 19-20, 2015
Saturday - open 10 a.m to 6 p.m.
Sunday - open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Admission: Adults - $7, Ages 6-11 -
$3, Bus students - $3,
Ages 5 and under - free
No dogs or animals allowed, except
to assist handicapped.
|Special thanks to our 2015 Sponsors
for the Trail of Courage Sept. 19-20, 2015
stage programs matching funds for the Indiana Arts Commison grant.
FCHS will receive $4,334 grant that has be matched by local funds.
The photo shows George Godfrey in his red shirt,
which he made himself for the Indian dances at the
Trail of Courage. The shirt and the rest of his regalia
is copied from a George Winter painting in the 1830s.
Godfrey’s nickname is “Red Shirt.” You can easily
pick him out in photos of the Grand Opening of the
National Museum of the American Indian and various
Memorial to Chief White Eagle
that stands in front of the
Fulton Co. Hist. Society
Museum. Tipi was made by
Fred Oden and honors Chief
White Eagle, Tom Hamilton, Bill
Wamego and Leon Stewart.
Chief White Eagle.
Trail of Courage celebrates 40th year Sept. 19-20, 2015
The excitement and adventure of Frontier Indiana comes alive at the 40th annual Trail of Courage Living
History Festival Sept. 19-20 at Rochester, Indiana. Since 1976 it has been a place where history is
depicted, where you can trace the very footsteps of history, and have a good time doing it. Over 1,000
people in historic outfits participate.
Frontier Indiana comes alive with foods cooked over wood fires, period music and dance, traditional
crafts, historic camps and trading, canoe rides on the river, and much more. It is produced by the Fulton
County Historical Society. This event combines genealogy of the Potawatomi Indians and the settlers who
lived in Fulton County and northern Indiana in the early 1800s with rendezvous events, period music and
dance on two stages, canoe rides on the Tippecanoe River.
The Trail of Courage will be held at the FCHS grounds four miles north of Rochester on US 31 and
Tippecanoe River. Admission is $7 for adults, $3 for children (6 through 11), and free ages 5 and under.
Hours are Sat. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sun. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
This year the honored Potawatomi is Matt Wesaw. His ancestor Chief Wesaw was on the 1838 Trail of
Death forced removal from Indiana to Kansas. Matt was Pokagon tribal chairman 2009-2013. He was a
Michigan state troop for 26 years, and is now director of Michigan Department of Civil Rights.
Dr. George Godfrey, Athens, Ill., Citizen Band, will tell history of Potawatomi ancestors. Godfrey has
written a new book, “Road to Uncertainty: Trials of Potawatomi Removals.” He published two books about
his ancestors Josette Watchekee and John “Bat” Baptiste Bergeron, which he will offer for sale. These
books are also available at the museum gift shop.
To celebrate its 40th anniversary, the Trail of Courage will honor Boy Scout Troop 285 that erected in 1976
the historical marker at Mud Creek for the first death on the Trail of Death. These boys, now men, include
Allen Willard, Shawn Young, Robert Nye (deceased), Hank Riffle, Jim Rans, Stuart O’Dell, and Chris
Henning. Scoutmaster Rick Faught and Sue Fellers who played taps for the dedication of the marker will
be included. Also the people who took part in the re-enactment march from the Tippecanoe River to Mud
Creek. All who took part are urged to contact Fulton County Historical Society at 574-223-4436.
Also to be honored will be descendants of William Polke. A historical marker was erected by his 1832
house in 1976, sponsored by Scott Rumely, Polke’s great great grandson. William Polke was the surveyor
of the Michigan Road, first white settler and first postmaster in Fulton County and helped write Indiana’s
first constitution in 1816.
The public is invited to join in the Indian dances 2 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., which are held in an arena outlined by
teepees. The drum will be the Indiana Hawk Band Shadow Sept Drum led by Terry “ Red Hawk” Harris,
Walkerton. Head dancers will be Candy Larrew, South Bend, and Jeremy Flook, Rochester. George
Godfrey, Athens, Illinois, of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, will act as emcee. He has been dancing at the
Trail of Courage since 1988.
The Trail of Courage includes historic encampments representing the French & Indian War, Voyageurs,
Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Western Fur Trade, Plains Indians teepees, and Woodland Indian
wigwams. A re-created Miami Village includes wigwams and lifeways demonstrations, such as making
Another re-creation is of Chippeway Village, which had the first trading post, post office and village in
Fulton County in 1832. Food purveyors and traditional craftsmen set up in wooden booths. Craftsmen also
sell pre-1840 trade goods from blankets and in historic merchant tents, offering a variety of items from
clothing and jewelry to knives and candles, everything needed to live in frontier days.
Canoe rides, muzzle loading shooting and tomahawk throwing contests, and a Mountain Man Tug of War
add to the frontier activities. Local Girl Scouts offer candle dipping to all children.
Two stages with frontier music and dance present programs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.
to 4 p.m. Sunday. Since the early 1980s FCHS has received grants from the Indiana Arts Commission/
National Endowment for the Arts to help pay for musicians and dancers. This year they include River
Valley Colonials Fife & Drum Corp, Aztec dancers, Shakin' Hammers String Band, Mark and Liza Woolever,
Chuck Molenda – Ben Franklin, Genot Picor will tell voyaguer stories, Trois Buffon – voyageur music and
dance, Indian dancers and drum.
This year’s grant is for $4,334 which is half of the approximately $8,000 cost of the performers.
Donations to match the grant are required by the Indiana Arts Commission and can be mailed to FCHS, 37
E 375 N, Rochester, IN 46975.
Many volunteers provide programs such as Frontier Frolic dance called by Allison Edwards, Nan Edwards
and Margo Moore’s dogs pulling travois, Marsha Glassburn - Cherokee storytelling, Frontier Fashion Show,
Riddle School dancers, and Mark Gropp – bagpipes.
Both Catholic and Protestant worship services are held at 9:00 a.m. on Sunday. Father Denny Kinderman,
Chicago, has celebrated Mass for over 10 years at the Hillside Amphitheater. Darlene DeHaai, Twelve Mile,
will lead the Protestant service at the Chippeway Village stage.
Pioneer foods are cooked over wood fires. Visitors can feast on buffalo burgers, apple dumplings,
chicken and noodles, barbecue, ham and beans, vegetable stew, chips cooked in big iron kettles, turkey
legs, Indian tacos and fry bread, corn on the cob, apple sausage, and more, including ice cream, one of
George Washington's favorite treats. Local clubs cook and serve these historic foods to fund their
projects: Rotary, Kappa Delta Phi, American Cherokee Confederacy, Knights of Columbus, Richland
Township Assn; and Kroger Relay for Life Team; and Fulton County Historical Society. Beverly Jackson
and family, Rochester, do the barbecue and sweet potato pie, and also exhibit a frontier African-American
house. Mark Gropp family brings homemade fudge. Many people come to the festival just for the delicious
The grounds are handicapped accessible. Free tram rides are available to bring people from the museum
and Living History Village at the north end of the grounds. The museum and village are open with hosts
and free admission.
Volunteers can earn free admission to the Trail of Courage by working half a day. To volunteer or for more
information, call the museum at 574-223-4436. Free parking is provided on FCHS grounds. Many benches
are available to sit and rest. For further details: www.fultoncountyhistory.org and www.potawatomi-tda.
The primary purpose of the Trail of Courage is to educate the public, to preserve and promote an accurate
picture of life in frontier Indiana, as well as other areas and time periods of North American history. The
festival is based on local history, before the Potawatomi Indians were marched west on the forced
removal known as the Trail of Death. The Potawatomi were marched down Rochester’s Main Street Sept.
5, 1838, on their way to Kansas, a journey of 660 miles that took them 10 weeks and cost them 42 lives.
Since 1976 this festival has honored the American Indians and shown life before the removal when this
was still Potawatomi Territory.
| Chief White Eagle autobiography published
A man who died in 2011 has a new autobiography published, thanks to the efforts of Susan
Campbell, who met him at the Trail of Courage and interviewed him several times. She lives
in Hawaii, so I helped out by taping his memories and mailing them to her.
Basil Heath, aka Chief White Eagle, was often told that he should write a book about his life
and adventures. Beginning in 2005 when he was in his late 80s I recorded many of his
memories on a tape recorder. We sat at his kitchen table, he in his usual chair, his wife
Bobbie at the other end, and me in the middle. Bill and I would sometimes take a pizza and
eat lunch with them, and then out would come the tape recorder.
He made notes of what he wanted to say. As everyone who ever had the privilege of
hearing one of his programs recalls, he was a wonderful speaker with a deep “radio voice.”
During his long career, he had been a soldier, welder, movie actor, television personality,
and a historian. He loved history and loved to tell the stories of what he had seen and
done. He also loved to tell Indian lore and history, repeating things he had learned from his
grandfather, and recounting stories he had read in books.
He was born in 1917 to a Mohawk-Cayuga woman and an English soldier. We don’t know
exactly why he chose to hide the fact that his father was British in his later life, but he
preferred to avoid telling his family relations. He liked to have some mystery in his life, like
the old-time movie stars.
We met Baz and Bobbie in 1984. They retired and moved to Fulton County. He dedicated
the new Trail of Courage land in 1985. He planted a Great Peace Tree in 1988 at the Trail
of Courage. He gave programs at the Trail of Courage and other events.
His stories include meeting the Kennedy kids, John, Bobby and Kathleen, in England,
serving in the British Army in England and Africa, and the battles and destruction he
witnessed in London during World War II. His descriptions are so vivid, you could see it all
in your mind as he told his stories. He also told about a trip to Germany as the guest of the
Prince of Bavaria, and their wedding in Chicago in which he did the Indian wedding
Baz was nearly killed 29 times and he described many of them, such as being shot at in
war, knocked into a ditch by a speeding car, sliding off a snowy road, etc.
Susan Campbell, a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, interviewed Chief White Eagle
in 1998 and 2008, and promised to write his book. She and husband Eric retired to Hawaii. I
sent the tapes to her and she typed them. Then Baz got sick and died in 2011. Meanwhile
Susan continued to work on the book, researching to verify and amplify the dates and facts,
writing and rewriting to get his voice just right. She organized the book into chapters to
make the text flow more smoothly, with assistance from her daughter Rhian.
Last month Susan excitedly emailed me that the book was done and being published. It
came out August 15, 2014.
I got a copy of the Chief White Eagle book on Monday and read it all before going to bed
that night, could not put it down. It is great, just like he is talking to me. I could hear his
voice. Susan did a terrific job on organizing, researching and filling in the missing pieces.
From Manhattan to Hollywood – The Stories of Chief White Eagle by Susan J. Campbell.
This amazing book reads just like Baz was talking to you. It has soft cover, 205 pages,
index, end-notes, black and white photos. It is for sale at the Fulton County Museum. Local
sales benefit the Potawatomi Trail of Death Assn. To order a copy, send check for $18
plus $5 shipping and handling to PTDA, Fulton Co. Hist. Soc., 37 E 375 N, Rochester IN
We would like to hear from the public on what you think good or bad. Is
there something that we need to change or improve on? Email:
Thank you. Melinda Clinger, Museum Director
Godfrey introduces new book at Trail of Courage
By Shirley Willard, Fulton County Historian
George Godfrey, a Potawatomi who had ancestors on the
Trail of Death, will introduce his new book at the Trail of
Courage Living History Festival Sept. 19-20. This is his
fourth book, “Road to Uncertainty: Trials of Potawatomi
Removals.” The 175-page historical fiction novel
combines the events of two Potawatomi removals in 1837
Many Indiana historians are familiar with the 1838 Trail of
Death that started near Twin Lakes southwest of
Plymouth and ended in Kansas. There were several
other Potawatomi removals. Godfrey is still researching
an 1837 Removal that passed through northwestern
Indiana and Illinois. Through his relatives, Godfrey
learned it was called the “Long Walk” from Chicago.
Godfrey found the John Durit diary of 1837 removal. In
1837 the Potawatomi left Niles, Michigan, went through
northwest Indiana, across Illinois, crossed the Mississippi
River at Quincy and into Missouri, then went to Iowa and
were relocated to a reservation near Council Bluffs.
Several chiefs, including Topenebee and Wesaw signed
a letter to President Van Buren complaining about the
emigrating agent, Col. Lewis Sands. Sands frequently got
drunk and would not stop to let them look for a lost child.
“Our feelings wounded by harsh language- Our people
left along the road, Our horses driven until they died! No
regard paid to our comfort and driven like dogs.”
Watchekee, who was on the “Long Walk,” was Godfrey’s
great-great grandmother. She is the book’s main
character. Her ordeals including the birth of her
daughter on the “Long Walk” and the hardships that
other Potawatomi endured on both removals fill the book.
“Road to Uncertainty: Trials of Potawatomi Removals” is
dedicated to Shirley and Bill Willard for their work in
teaching the public about the injustices done to the
Potawatomi in their removal from the southern Great
Chief Wesaw was on both the 1837 and 1838 removals,
and is a character in the new book. His descendants will
be the honored Potawatomi family at the Trail of Courage
this year. Matt Wesaw, former tribal chairman of the
Pokagon Potawatomi Band of Michigan and Indiana, will
be given a key to the City.
Godfrey is a familiar figure at the Trail of Courage where
he emcees the Indian dances. Copies of all of his books
may be gotten directly from him at his booth at the 2015
Trail of Courage, September 19 and 20.
He previously has written “Watchekee (Overseer):
Walking in Two Cultures,” “Once a Grass Widow:
Watchekee’s Destiny,” and “The Indian Marble.”
Autographed copies of “Road to Uncertainty” may be
ordered through Nishnabek Publications, 24108 Burr
Oaks Lane, Athens, IL, 62613 ($13.95 per copy includes
S/H). Unsigned copies of Godfrey’s books may be
purchased through Amazon.com.