Trail of Tears speaker expected at Groundhog Supper

            The men and boys of the Steelville Presbyterian Church will be hosting the 94th Annual Groundhog Supper on Thursday, February 2. This year’s speaker will be Dr. Bill Ambrose who will be giving a presentation on the Trail of Tears.

            Ambrose, of Jefferson City, will be speaking about the “four saving oases in the Courtois Hills” that were used on the northern route of the Trail of Tears. The third oasis on the Trail was Steelville.
            A Missouri Trail of Tears Association project, funded by the Missouri Humanities Council, is using geographic information system (GIS) technology to translate historical statistical data into maps that can tell the story of the Trail of Tears in Missouri. Ultra-modern technology is being used to gather and guide the research to tell the long-misunderstood Missouri Trail of Tears story.
            Using georeferencing, a key component of GIS technology, researchers can plot the Trail of Tears on any georeferenced map, such as county land-ownership plats that personalize the story for many descendants of the earliest Missourians. The goal is to stimulate interest through visualization and interpretation with GIS technology to promote stewardship of this important cultural epic that occurred across the Missouri landscape during the earliest portion of Missouri statehood. 
            A group of 365 Cherokee traveled the Northern Route of the Trail of Tears in 1837 under the supervision of Lt. B.B. Cannon and, on their way through Missouri, they traversed the Courtois Hills. During that time, Cannon was able to find four locations where he was able to obtain much-needed supplies. During his presentation, Ambrose will talk about those “four oases” and the resources they provided.
            Ambrose will also present a map of the trail that has been drawn using original plats and family names. That information will allow current landowners to determine if the Trail passed through their property using current technology. He will also summarize what the Missouri Chapter of the Trail of Tears Association, in support of the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail, is doing with a website ( to bring the Trail of Tears epic to Missourians with the help of funding from the Missouri Humanities Council.
            The Groundhog Supper is set to begin with dinner at 6 p.m. in Roper Fellowship Hall in the basement of the church. All men and boys of the community are welcome to attend. Admission is free but an offering will be taken to benefit the Steelville Food Pantry.