Arkansas Historic Preservation Program
Springfield to Fayetteville Road, Cross Hollow Segment
Springfield to Fayetteville Road, Cross Hollow Segment

SPRINGFIELD TO FAYETTEVILLE ROAD, CROSS HOLLOW SEGMENT, LOWELL VIC., BENTON COUNTY

SUMMARY

The Springfield to Fayetteville Road – Cross Hollow Segment is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places under Criterion “A” with National significance by virtue of its status as a lengthy segment of road traversed by one of the first contingents of Cherokee Removal, under the command of B. B. Cannon in 1837, and by eleven of the seventeen contingents in 1838 and 1839 to follow along the road known as the Northern Route of the Trail of Tears. This two-mile stretch of road is the longest-known segment of road traveled on the Northern Route by Cherokee Removal contingents in Arkansas in the late 1830s that retains its integrity as a nineteenth-century roadbed.  Its later association with the Butterfield Trail and Northern and Southern troop movements surrounding the Battle of Pea Ridge during the American Civil War augments its importance.  The property is being submitted for National Register recognition under the multiple – property listing “Historic and Archeological Resources Associated with the Cherokee Trail of Tears.”

ELABORATION

The Springfield to Fayetteville Road – Cross Hollow Segment constitutes part of what soon after Arkansas statehood would be known as the State Road.  It led from Fayetteville, Arkansas, to Missouri’s southern border.  The particular segment under consideration is a portion of roadway first laid out in two segments, in 1835, with the first segment beginning in Fayetteville and ending at the homestead of John Fitzgerald (in present day Springdale, Arkansas).  From that point, the Washington County Court ordered the construction of the second segment of road “from Fayetteville to the Missouri line in the direction of the Delaware town [near Springfield, Missouri] commencing at or near the second spring north of John Fitzgerald.”

The road continued to Little Sugar Creek, Samuel Burk’s, William Reddick’s, Job R. Monds’, and on to the Missouri line.  The roadway was to be twenty-feet wide.   It plays a historically significant part not only in Arkansas history, but also in events which shaped our nation’s character and identity.  It helped to promote, quite literally, America’s economic and cultural direction while often embedding within its shoulders a tragic legacy of pain and suffering, even death, in its still visible twists and turns.  The time frame for this project is 1837 to 1839, an era known as the Trail of Tears.  The first wave of people of the Cherokee Removal used the Cross Hollow segment as early as the winter of 1837 and successive groups followed the trail, all on their way to Indian Territory.

A brief statement in the Comprehensive Management and Use Plan, Trail of Tears National Historic Trail reveals the historic national significance of the Cross Hollow segment.  It states that “The Trail of Tears National Historic Trail commemorates the tragic experience of the Cherokee people, who were forcibly removed by the United States government in 1838 – 39 from their homelands in the southeastern United States to new homes hundreds of miles to the west.”   The statement is a remarkably succinct narrative portrait of this highly significant, albeit dark period in America’s history.  However, the use of phrases such as “tragic experience” and “forcibly removed . . .   from their homelands” only partially lifts the curtain on this tragedy.  Greed, racism, lust, deception, murder are concepts often used in the narrative as well, and help to reveal the complexities of United States history during the Cherokee Removal.

Native Americans were dragged from their homes and lands, shoved into stockades, forced into internment camps in Tennessee, and then herded along water and land routes into Indian Territory.  For many of the Native Americans, especially the very young and very old, the Trail of Tears was a death march.  This forced march was the antithesis of the American dream.  Self-determination, opportunity, and individual freedom were ideals as alien to the Cherokees as they were to those living under tyrannical governments elsewhere in the world.

The Cherokee Removal, the most famous feature of which is the Trail of Tears, could be cynically said to have had its beginnings with the first contact between the Europeans, and the natives of this land.  One could choose at will any date of contact and get a sense of things to come.  Quite simply, Native Americans had what the newcomers wanted – land.  Justifications for the seizing of land, be they hatefully racist, kindly religious, or blatantly economic, are as predictable as the outcome.
While the Cherokees, themselves became directly responsible for the actual movement of their people, the heavy hand of the United States government made sure they maintained a constant pace westward.  Disease and exposure reduced their number by hundreds, if not thousands.  Because Arkansas’ geographic location positioned it in the final few miles of this journey, those Arkansans witnessing the Native Americans being driven along the road were observers of the conclusion of hundreds of miles of heartache.

In the 1830s the charade of excuses for taking land fell away, and lands belonging to several tribes, but primarily those of the Cherokee Nation in the southeast United States, were blatantly stolen and those who once had possession were driven far away.  President Andrew Jackson encouraged these actions.  Jackson even considered Indian removal compassionate compared to his well-known belief in extermination of Native Americas.  Jackson participated in negotiating several treaties with Native Americans whereby the various tribes exchanged their lands for land to the west.  He helped to guide the Indian Removal Act through Congress in May 1830, which is viewed as the beginning of the formal removal program.  It was to “provide for an exchange of  lands with the Indians residing in any of the states or territories, and for their removal west of the river Mississippi.”  

The Cherokee Nation became more and more isolated due to white incursions.  By 1835, no fewer than twenty-three treaties had been signed with the last, the Treaty of New Echota, signed on December 29, 1835 (and repudiated by the vast majority of Cherokee.  In fact, it was signed by  only 100 of the 17,000 Cherokees living there).  This treaty forced the Cherokees to forfeit all their remaining Cherokees lands east of the Mississippi River to the United States government. 

 As the state of Georgia began anew the forcible round-up for removal, the Cherokee Nation proved the legal right to its land in the United States Supreme Court.  They would take that decision with them on their journey westward.   The abuses exacted upon the Cherokees at the beginning of the long journey foretold the hardships to come.  James Mooney, an ethnographer who later interviewed a several Cherokees who survived, states:

 

[O]n turning for one last look as they crossed the ridge, [the captives] saw their homes in flames, fired by the lawless rabble that followed on the heels of the soldiers to loot and pillage.  So keen were these outlaws on the scene that in some instances they were driving off the cattle and other stock of the Indians almost before the soldiers had fairly started the owners in the opposite direction . . . To prevent escape the solders had been ordered to approach and surround each house . . . so as to come upon the occupants without warning.  One old patriarch when thus surprised calmly called his children and grandchildren around him, and kneeling down, bid them pray with him in their own language, while the astonished soldiers looked on in silence.  Then rising he led the way into exile.

 

The earliest contingent of Cherokees to come along the Springfield to Fayetteville Road – Cross Hollow Segment was under the charge of conductor B. B. Cannon.  Fortunately, Cannon kept a journal of the passage.  Those contingents following thereafter repeated Cannon’s route, coming into Arkansas from Missouri along the Springfield to Fayetteville Road referred to as the Northern Route into Indian Territory.   His journey began with 365 Cherokees on October 15, 1837, and ended in Indian Territory on December 29, 1837.  The groups suffered fifteen deaths along the trail.   His journal entry of December 24, 1837, with its reference to “X hollows” [Cross Hollow] gives evidence of the group having come through northwest Arkansas, camping at the segment under consideration: “Marched at 8 o’c. A.M. halted at the X hollows, had to leave the road ¾ of a mile to get water, 3 o’c. P.M.  Issued corn & fodder, Pork and cornmeal, 15 miles today.”  

It is certainly reasonable to assume all of the many groups taking the northern route thereafter, traveled the same route, although there appears to be no actual documentation to confirm this supposition.  However, two contingents that can be historically authenticated as having been on this segment of road are those of Richard Taylor and Peter Hilderbrand.   Two members of the Taylor contingent, Daniel S. Butrick, a minister, and Dr. William I. I. Morrow, a physician, kept diaries.  Each corroborate the other, often offering heartbreaking eyewitness testimony to the horrific hardships the Cherokees suffered, as this passage in Butrick’s diary reveals:  “. . .there are more or less affected with sickness in almost every tent; and yet all are houseless and homeless in a strange land, and in a cold region exposed to weather almost unknown in their native country.  But they are prisoners.  True, their own chiefs have directly hold of their hands, yet the U. States officers hold the chiefs with an iron grasp, so that they are obliged to lead the people according to their directions in executing effectually that Schermerhorn treaty.”

Richard Taylor’s contingent, made up of nearly a thousand Cherokees, passed through Cross Hollow on March 20, 1838, as told in the diary of I. I. Morrow: “Wednesday 20th Cloudy & cool – traveled 15 miles to the X Hollows, east dinner at Homeslys [James Holmesly’s] & came on 5 miles to [John] Fitzgeralds in company with Cox Fields Hemger & George D. Morrow – a mean house.”   That evening brought a rainstorm and caused the party to move slowly on the 19th, only another nine miles.  Both diaries often refer to the Peter Hildebrand contingent being one day behind that of Taylor’s.  It is reasonable to assume they passed through Cross Hollow on March 19 or 20, 1838.

This segment of the Springfield to Fayetteville Road, with its established stops at Elkhorn Tavern, Brightwater (south of Elkhorn Tavern), and farther south at Cross Hollows, was to be the primary thoroughfare for the audacious Butterfield Stagecoach line begun in 1858.  Although short-lived, the Butterfield would run a distance of over two thousand miles, with its starting point at Tipton, Missouri, through northwest Arkansas, and other points, and on to its final destination in San Francisco.  By 1860, northwest Arkansas’ “first telegraph line was strung along the road, giving the road its last, and most enduring name – The Telegraph or Wire Road.  The line ran from Springfield, Missouri, to Forth Smith, but was cut less than a year later when Arkansas seceded from the Union.”

Of course, the histories of the use of this road during activities surrounding the Battle of Pea Ridge during the American Civil War are exhaustive.  Both northern and southern troop movements along the road are well documented with Cross Hollow mentioned as the place the Confederate troops, under the command of General McCulloch, rested just after the first fighting in February 1862.

The Springfield to Fayetteville Road – Cross Hollow Segment is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places under Criterion “A” with National significance by virtue of its status as a lengthy segment of road traversed by one of the first contingents of Cherokee Removal, under the command of B. B. Cannon in 1837, and by eleven of the seventeen contingents in 1838 and 1839 to follow along the road known as the Northern Route of the Trail of Tears. This two-mile stretch of road is the longest-known segment of road traveled on the Northern Route by Cherokee Removal contingents in Arkansas in the late 1830s that retains its integrity as a nineteenth-century roadbed.  Its later association with the Butterfield Trail and Northern and Southern troop movements surrounding the Battle of Pea Ridge during the American Civil War augments its importance.  The property is being submitted for National Register recognition under the multiple – property listing “Historic and Archeological Resources Associated with the Cherokee Trail of Tears.”

SIGNIFICANCE

The Springfield to Fayetteville Road – Cross Hollow Segment is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places under Criterion “A” with National significance by virtue of its status as a lengthy segment of road traversed by one of the first contingents of Cherokee Removal, under the command of B. B. Cannon in 1837, and by eleven of the seventeen contingents in 1838 and 1839 to follow along the road known as the Northern Route of the Trail of Tears. This two-mile stretch of road is the longest-known segment of road traveled on the Northern Route by Cherokee Removal contingents in Arkansas in the late 1830s that retains its integrity as a nineteenth-century roadbed.  Its later association with the Butterfield Trail and Northern and Southern troop movements surrounding the Battle of Pea Ridge during the American Civil War augments its importance.  The property is being submitted for National Register recognition under the multiple – property listing “Historic and Archeological Resources Associated with the Cherokee Trail of Tears.”

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Dorothy Allen.  “Jane Fitzgerald Reddick” History of Benton County, Arkansas  (Dallas, TX: Curtis Media Corporation, 1991).

Comprehensive Management and Use Plan, Trail of Tears National Historic Trail  (Denver, CO: Denver Service Center, National Park Service, September 1992).

Grant Foreman.  Indian Removal  (Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1953).

Joan Gilbert.  The Trail of Tears Across Missouri  (Columbia, MO: U. of MO Press, 1996).

History of Benton, Washington, Carroll, Madison, Crawford, Franklin, and Sebastian County, Arkansas  (Chicago, IL: The Goodspeed Publishing Company, 1889).

http://www.nps.gov/peri/telegraph_road.htm.

http://www.nps.gov/peri/battle_intro.htm.

Duane King. “Cherokee Emigration Routes Through Northern Arkansas During the Forced Removal of 1838 – 1839”, Submitted to the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, Little Rock, AR, June 7, 2002.

Daniel F. Littlefield, Jr.  The Pea Ridge National Military Park Site: Interpretive Contexts, Presented to the Arkansas Chapter of the National Trail of Tears Association, Pea Ridge National Military Park, January 19, 2002 as Part of the American Native Press Archives Indian Removal Through Arkansas Project (UALR American Native Press Archives, 2003).

James Mooney.  Myths of the Cherokee, Bureau of American Ethnology Nineteenth Annual Report, Part I (Washington, DC: 1900).

Gary Moulton.  The Papers of Chief John Ross, Vol. I, 1807 – 1839 (Norman, OK: The University of Oklahoma Press, 1885).

Robert V. Remini.  Andrew Jackson and His Indian Wars (New York, NY: Viking Press, 2001).

FOOTNOTES