Several groups of Cherokees departed during 1838 from Fort Payne with a guide provided by the federal government while others left under their own command. One such group was lead by Cherokee leader John Benge.
Chief Benge left with a group of 1,103 Cherokees on October 3, 1838. They followed what is now Alabama Highway 35 through Fort Payne, to the top of Sand Mountain and on to Rainsville. This path lead them along nowwhat is now Alabama Highway 75 to Albertville, then on to Highway 431 to Gunters Landing, now Guntersville.
Failure of the federal government to provide ample means of transport for personal belongings, the Cherokees were forced to leave behind many of their prized possessions, further stripping them of their pride and human dignity.
Their journey west was filled with hardships, suffering and illnesses – one out of every seven died – before reaching the land they would then call home.