The Trail of Tears and the Buel Cabin

The Trail of Tears and the Buel Cabin

Golconda Illinois was part of the Cherokee forced evacuation on the long and arduous Trail of Tears. The Alexander Buel family was tanners and their two-story cabin built in 1840 is located in Golconda, Illinois. At the time the Buels lived in the home tanning was big business with substantial shipments of hides and leather traveling up and down the Ohio River which winds through the town of Golcanda.
President Andrew Jackson provided support for an armed force of 7,000 under the command of General Winfield Scott forcing 15,000 Cherokees from their homes in the Great Smokey Mountains. The arduous march was a trail 1,000 miles long and the journey began in the winter of 1838. The cold, sick and hungry group crossed Tennessee and Kentucky and on about the 3rd of December, 1838, they arrived in Southern Illinois at Golconda after crossing the Ohio River. Many Indians died of diseases like cholera, whooping cough, and small pox and because of the diseases Indians were not allowed into towns or villages. The Illinois Historic Preservation Agency states, “The Buel House, according to local tradition, was a significant site on the Cherokee Trail of Tears. The family of tanner Alexander Buel (?-1894) was said to have fed pumpkin to hungry Cherokee Indians being driven west by the federal government in 1838.
There are indications that over the years Cherokee stopped at Golconda to trade while journeying to visit their former homes in Georgia.”The Cherokee marched on through Southern Illinois. About December 15, 1838, they were forced to spend the winter in the area of what is now the Trail of Tears State Forest. This history is entwined with the Buel house. The house was part of the Buel family until 1986 and offers an example of a working class home. The Buel family lived in the home for almost 150 years and while they dwelled there, the family saw a Civil War, two World Wars, and much more. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976 the home is also part of the Golconda Historic District.
Besides the Buel Cabin another cabin is also located on this site, the Davidson Cabin. Originally located on a farm owned by R.C. Davidson the cabin was moved next to the Buel House as part of the Illinois Historical Preservation Agency. The history of the cabin states “The cabin was purchased in 1882 by John Thomas Davidson, grandfather to R.C., who presented the cabin to the Pope County Historical Society.”

For more information, call the Pope County Historical Society at 618-683-3050 or email them at

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