(Columbus Belmont State Park, August 23, 2012) – A long time ago dark days were seen in sparsely settled Hickman County. Men, women and children were marched at the point of guns from their homes across frontier America. Today in modern Hickman County, those who marched and ferried across the Mississippi River were remembered. but
Columbus Belmont Park is now officially a site along the Trail of Tears, one of the few in Kentucky.
Cabinet Secretary Marcheta Sparrow and Parks Commissioner Elaine Walker joined the four county judges from the River Counties in the unveiling of a large sign announcing the Park to be the “Benge Detachment Camp” on the Trail of Tears. Native Americans joined the celebration in costume with flags of their nations waving. At least one was in Kentucky from Manitoba, Canada.
Next to come will be signs marking the path that John Benge, the commander of the forced march and 1100 mostly Cherokees followed moving to their resettlement in the Oklahoma Territory. Many of those in the Benge group were children. It took ten days to ferry the group across the Mississippi River. Encampments were set up on both sides of the River.
A dark chapter in America's history became a source of celebration and pride in honoring those who made the trek back in 1838.