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City of Waynesville Missouri, Waynesville MO, Waynesville Missouri, frogfest, Pulaski County Missouri, waynesville city hall, waynesville, ft. leonard wood, ft. wood, fort wood

Waynesville Cherokee Encampment

at Roubidoux Spring 

A Certified Historic Site on the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail

Receives Certification from the National Park Service

      During the 1837-1839 Trail of Tears migration, the area that is now Laughlin Park was used as a Cherokee encampment.  The City of Waynesville and the Downtown Beautification Committee applied for certification as a site on the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail.  On July 24, 2006, in accordance with the National Trails System Act, the Waynesville Cherokee Encampment at Roubidoux Spring was designated as a Certified Historic Site on the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail, and in October of 2006, a Certification Ceremony was held in Laughlin Park, on the banks of the Roubidoux Creek.  The National Park Service was represented by Aaron Mahr, who presented the certificate, and the Missouri Trail of Tears Association was represented by Deloris Wood.

     The encampments along the Roubidoux River at Waynesville were documented in journals by three men: Dr. W.I. Morrow (1837), Rev. Daniel S. Butrick (1839), and B.B. Cannon (1837).  Those records led to Laughlin Park being designated as a certified site on the Trail of Tears National Trail in 2006.  Excerpts from their journals can be read below.  Laughlin Park is one of seven certified sites in Missouri.

Seven Trail of Tears Wayside Exhibits Unveiled

     Seven Trail of Tears Wayside Exhibits were unveiled at Roubidoux Spring in Laughlin Park on June 19, 2015.  The unveiling event celebrates the continuing effort by the National Park Service and its partners to preserve and develop the national historic trail for increased public awareness and use.  Everyone is invited to experience the interpretive walking trail to view the waysides and take a walk through the park, the site of a historic Cherokee removal campsite, to the historic Trail of Tears crossing at Roubidoux Creek.



     The Trail of Tears National Historic Trail commemorates the United States government's forced removal of the Cherokee Indians from their traditional homelands in Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Alabama to Indian Territory in present-day Oklahoma.  Over 600 miles of the trail stretch across 26 counties in southern Missouri, and include three separate routes: the Northern Route, the Hildebrand Route, and the Benge Route.  Waynesville's Laughlin Park is located along the Northern Route.  The Cherokee on the Northern Route passed through 15 Missouri counties, crossing more miles of Missouri than any other state.

Congress designated the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail as part of the National Trails System in 1987, and the NPS National Trails Intermountain Region is responsible for working with communities and partners to preserve and develop the trail.  The Trail of Tears National Historic Trail is one of six national historic trails in Missouri.

     Because of the devastating loss of their people buried in unmarked graves, many Cherokees view the Trail of Tears as hallowed ground.  It is not just a path.  It's a cemetery.  It's the final resting place for many of their ancestors.  Though the memory of the Trail of Tears often overshadows the memory of the individuals who experienced it, we know the Cherokees were mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, sons and daughters, grandmothers and grandfathers, aunts and uncles, sisters and brothers, and cousins.  They were loved and they loved in return.  They were people.  Without these people, the marking of such historical sites would not happen.  May they never be forgotten.

For more information about the Laughlin Park Wayside Exhibits, visit the National Park Service website at:

Visit the following websites to learn more about the Trail of Tears Association,
the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail, and the National Trails System:

Trail of Tears Association:
Trail of Tears National Historic Trail:
National Trails System:



     During the fall of 1837 and the winter of 1838-39, bands of starving Cherokee Indians made their way across southern Missouri into the Indian Territory.  The history of the Trail of Tears is documented in several diaries of the time period.   Dr. W. I. Morrow's diary of 1837,  the Journal of Rev. Daniel S. Butrick from 1839 and the most well-known of the diaries,  the B. B. Cannon Journal, from October 13, 1837 to December 30, 1837, contain references to the Roubidoux Encampment and the City of Waynesville.

Excerpt from the Cannon Journal:

                Dec. 6, 1837:  March 9 o'c A. M. passed Massey's Iron Works, halted at Mr. Jones' 1/2 past 3 o'c P.M. encamped and issued corn and fodder. 12 miles today.

                Dec. 7, 1837:  Marched at 8 o'c A. M.  Reese's team ran away, broke his waggon and Starr's carry all, left him and family to get his waggon mended,  at 17  miles and to overtake if possible. halted at Mr. Bates's son 5 o'c P. M. encamped and issued corn and fodder, corn-meal and bacon. 20 miles today.

                Dec. 8, 1837:  Buried Nancy Bigbear's Grand child.  Marched at 9 o'c A. M. halted at Piney, a small river 1/2 past 3 o'c. P. M. rained all day, encamped and issued corn only, no fodder to be had. several drunk.  11 miles today.

                Dec. 9, 1837:  Marched at 9 o'c A. M. Mayfield's waggon broke down at about a mile.  left him to get it mended and overtake.  halted at Waynesville, Mo,      4 o'c P.M. encamped and issued corn and fodder, beef and corn meal.  Weather extremely cold.  12 1/2 miles today.

                Dec. 10, 1837:  Marched at 8 o'c A. M. halted at the Gasconade river 4 o'c P. M.  Issued corn and fodder. 14 miles today.

Excerpt from the Butrick Journal:

            March 12, 1839:  We travelled about 12 miles to a settlement called Port Royal (believed to be Waynesville by researchers), on the banks of a beautiful stream, named Rubedoo.  Here we had a delightful place, on the bank of the river, convenient to wood and water.  We employed our kind Nancy, a black woman to wash, and dried our clothes in the evening by the fire.

                March 13, 1839:  We proceeded 12 miles, to a handsome river called Gasconade, having passed over a most barren country.

                March 14, 1839:  We travelled to the west branch of the Gasconade, not quite as large as the first, where we stayed last night.

Excerpt from the Morrow Diary:

            March 4, 1839:  Clear and cold (Bates in Pulaski Co. Waynesville the county seat)  Jas Harrison 2 miles below Bates a mean man - will not let any person connected with the emigration stay with him 4th March, traveled to Harrisons on Big Piney, very cold - distance 10 miles.

                March 5, 1839:  traveled 12 miles to Waynesville on Roberdeou Creek, a branch of the Gasconade - clear and pleasant day stayed with Col. Swinks - a genteel man and pretty wife and quiet familiar.

                March 6, 1839:  The detachmt made a late start, the morning warm, wind from the south, look out for rain - traveled 14 miles to the Gasconade River at Stark's through a barren and sterile country, the day continued pleasant - Sydney Roberts in this neighborhood.

                March 7, 1839:  Fine morning, made an early start, reached our encampment at Beans on the Osage Fork against 10 clk (distance 10 miles) still a barren country.  Beans a mean house.



The City of Waynesville, Missouri, is located in Pulaski County, Missouri, and is home to Fort Leonard Wood.  Historic Route 66 winds its way through downtown Waynesville, and the area near the Roubidoux Spring in Waynesville's Laughlin Park was used as a Cherokee encampment during the 1837-1839 Trail of Tears march.