Trail of Tears

Thousands of Cherokees Passed Through La Vergne on Trail of Tears
Trail of Tears In Northern Rutherford County
Thousands of Cherokee men, women and children passed through La Vergne in the 1800s while traveling on the Trail of Tears. The political and military effort to remove Native Americans from southeastern states is a well-documented U.S. historical event following the passage of the Indian Removal Act of 1830.
National Park Service
The City of La Vergne,Tennessee holds a very rare and unique place in the history of the Cherokee Trail of Tears. La Vergne is geographically located between 2 documented segments of the National Historic Trail of Tears Northern Land Route. The primary northern land route follows Old Nashville Pike north from Murfreesboro into present day La Vergne where it joins present day Murfreesboro Road. While the lesser known but equally important, alternate northern land route passes La Vergne just to the east of the present day City before entering Davidson County.

Beginning in October of 1838, and well into 1839, at the hands of the United States Army, more than 16,000 Cherokee men, women, and children, began their forced immigration to Indian Territory, beginning in southeastern Tennessee to their destination in present day Oklahoma. The vast majority of these persons walked well over 700 miles entirely on foot. It is estimated that at least 4,000 died en route to Oklahoma due to disease, exhaustion, and exposure to the harsh winter weather.

There were 4 routes used by the Cherokee to cross Tennessee on their way west. These are known as previously mentioned, the northern land route, the southern land routes, which are known today as the Bell and Benge routes through south-central Tennessee, and the water route by way of the Tennessee River. The primary northern land route arrived at McMinnville and continued to Murfreesboro, following Old Nashville Pike to Nashville, then onto Port Royal Tennessee, before leaving the state at Guthrie, Kentucky.

During the last week of October and into the first week of November 1838, at least 2 detachments opted to leave the primary land route at Readyville to avoid the toll houses at Murfreesboro. These groups were warned by riders returning from Nashville that the toll houses were charging inflated tolls to the other detachments needing to access the Nashville Pike at Murfreesboro. These detachments consisted of approximately 2,000 persons in all. They were traveling with wagons intended for what few supplies they were allotted by the Government. The toll house fees for the wagons alone would have equaled just over $700 in money today or approximately $35 in 1838.

The Cherokee detachments followed roughly the course of the east fork of the Stones River to the northwest on the route we now refer to as the Alternate Northern Land Route, and arrived just north of Murfreesboro at Compton Road and Highway 231 today. Going slightly north, they would then turn again toward the northwest onto Central Valley Road in Rutherford County and enter the town of Old Jefferson at the Forks of the Stones River near Smyrna. After fording the west fork of the Stones River they followed Old Jefferson Pike to present day Sam Ridley Parkway, turning north at the main gate of the Smyrna Air Field.
Map of Trail of Tears Route
From this location the Cherokee proceeded in a northwesterly direction across the current U.S. Army Corps. of Engineers / TWRA Management Area to the intersection of Old Jones Mill Road and Morningside Drive in La Vergne. Modern day Morningside Drive would lead them to Hollandale Road, around to Stones River Road, and to the site of the Hurricane Creek Boat Ramp. Here again, turning to the northwest through the current day location of the Four Corners Marina. From here, the route enters Davidson County by following Hamilton Church Road to the northwest and thus reuniting the detachments with the primary Trail of Tears route from Murfreesboro at Hamilton Church Road and Murfreesboro Road in Antioch.