By CINDY LADAGE
GOLCONDA, Ill. — In the time when the Alexander Buel family lived, circa 1840, home tanning was big business, with substantial shipments of hides and leather traveling up and down the Ohio River that winds through the town of Golconda. The farming of animals was also big business and provided both food and covering.
The Buel cabin is open during special events, and visitors can tour the outside any time and learn about Alexander Buel’s connection with the Trail of Tears. The sad history of this forced evacuation began in part over arguments about the gold mines that opened on Cherokee lands.
Southern Illinois History shares: “A movement had been gathering since about 1802 for the removal of all Indians to reservations and the discovery of gold had fueled the fire in earnest. The Georgia legislature ruled to acquire the lands. A law was passed that no Indian or descendants of an Indian shall be deemed a competent witness in any case in court to which a white person may be a party.”
Other states where Cherokee lands fell adopted similar laws. Many Cherokees were given whiskey by white settlers who also bribed them with “paltry sums of money and empty promises.” About 2,000 moved West, but another 15,000 were not fooled by these methods and were forced to walk the Trail of Tears, which w as named since it became known for its many hardships and sorrows.
The arduous march was a trail 1,000 miles long and the journey began just before the winter of 1838. The cold, sick and hungry group crossed Tennessee and Kentucky and on about Dec. 3, they arrived in Golconda after crossing the Ohio River.
According to the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, the Buel family was said to have fed pumpkin to hungry Cherokee Indians. There are indications that over the years, Cherokee stopped at Golconda to trade while journeying to visit their former homes in Georgia.
Thus, this history is entwined with the Buel house, which was part of that family until 1986 and offers an example of a working-class home. Generations of Buels 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.
Another cabin is also located on this site, the Davidson Cabin. Originally located on a farm owned by R.C. Davidson, it was moved next to the Buel house by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. The history of the cabin states it 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 firstname.lastname@example.org