Shawnee Chapter of Illinois Audubon Society, serving members across the southernmost region of Illinois. We are dedicated to the conservation and preservation of Illinois habitat and its diversity of native birds, animals and plants. We offer bird watching and nature-related field trips, workshops and presentations in southern Illinois.
Yesterday, five of us made the annual Shawnee Chapter trip to Cave Valley for early spring migrants. The frigid dawn warmed up to a beautiful clear spring day. A little earlier in the season than we normally go, quite a few species were missing from our “normal” list. But, we all agreed that the extra long view we had of the cerulean and prothonotary warblers sharing the same branch, at eye level, with perfect lighting was the best we’d ever seen of either bird–and there they were together!
While waiting for folks to arrive in Pomona before driving down to Cave Valley we spotted barn and tree swallows, indigo bunting, blue grosbeak, black and turkey vulture, mourning dove, northern cardinal and chipping sparrow. Once in the forest, besides the cerulean and prothonotary, we picked up red-shouldered hawk, bluejay, blue gray gnatcatcher, American redstart, blue-winged warbler, yellow-throated warbler, common yellowthroat warbler, pine warbler, worm eating warbler, Louisiana waterthrush, red-eyed vireo, white-eyed vireo, yellow-throated vireo (and possibly a Philadelphia vireo), belted kingfisher and white-throated sparrow. Probably missing some–maybe Anne or Ann can add to this list!
Tony Gerard tells the story of Caleb Tucker.
Last Monday evening, everyone enjoyed Tony Gerard’s living history performance of Caleb Tucker telling his story of the removal of the Cherokee from their homeland in Georgia to Oklahoma. After leading a group across the Ohio River on a ferry into Golconda, Illinois the trek began across southern Illinois along what is now referred to as the Trail of Tears. Ice on the Mississippi River forced the group to wait at camps where they spent a cold and arduous winter. Only allowed enough time to grab a few personal items before being forced from their homes, the Cherokee did not have proper provisions to keep warm and dry. Many, especially the children, got sick and died along the way–hundreds were buried in unmarked graves. By the time the ice thawed on the Mississippi and they were placed on a ferry crossing into Missouri, Caleb Tucker had felt enough shame and seen enough pain–he quit. The next time you visit Trail of Tears State Forest or see a convenience store or some such arbitrary thing calling itself Trail of Tears this or that, remember there is a story behind that name as a reminder that we should never allow such a travesty to occur during our watch.
Join us at Trail of Tears State Forest for a Living History presentation by Tony Gerard.
Tony portrays Caleb Tucker, a soldier in the United Sates Army who finds himself assigned to round up the Cherokee in preparation for forced removal to the Indian nations in present-day Oklahoma. As removal nears Caleb takes his discharge from the Army, then signs on as a teamster with a contractor hired to take the Cherokee west.
One of the main routes that the Cherokee march to the west took them through was southernmost Illinois, which makes Trail of Tears State Forest the perfect setting for this thought-provoking and moving presentation. Be warned! This program deals frankly with a sad and shameful period in US history–there will not be a dry eye in the audience. But, understanding our past is the only way to ensure a brighter and better future.
The presentation will take place at the Trail of Tears State Forest group campsite located behind the picnic area South of State Forest Road east of State Rte. 127 north of Jonesboro. Turn into the picnic area across from the white barn and follow the signs. Be sure to dress for cool spring weather. Rustic seating will be provided but lawn chairs may make your experience more comfortable.
For more information contact Terri at 618-521-1030 or firstname.lastname@example.org.