WAYNESVILLE, Mo. — The land that Pulaski County and Waynesville inhabits has a history that goes back long before the city and county were established. Leaders are making efforts to recognize and honor those who traveled along the Trail of Tears.

OzarksFirst spoke with former Waynesville Mayor, teacher, and author Luge Hardman about this aspect of the city’s history.

“In 1830, President Andrew Jackson wanted to get rid of the Indians on the east coast, because the white folks wanted the land,” Hardman said. “And so they passed the Indian Removal Act, and with that act, 100,000 Indians were moved off the east coast, and forced to relocate into Indian territory, which of course, was Oklahoma.”

Hardman said there were two routes on the Trail of Tears. Waynesville is on the north route.

“And from 1837 until 1839, those Cherokee Indians, for the most part, Cherokee, moved through this area.”

Other tribes included Choctaw, Creek, Chickasaw, and Seminole.

“Their stop here in Waynesville was along the Roubidoux spring, which, of course, is up the road,” Hardman said. “We know that they stopped here three times, starting in 1837, 1838, and 1839. We have all kinds of proof that they stopped here.”

Hardman said three famous diaries from wagon masters who led the Native Americans west are an important piece of the story, one even mentions a spring which is believed to be the Roubidoux spring.

“And if fact, when we built this area, we had to have an archeologist come in and do a lot of research and make sure, was it true? Were there people buried here? There were a lot of things that they were interested in.”

In 2005, the area was certified as a stop on the National Historic Trail.

“In 2015, we completed the interpretive trail project. But I just think this is a wonderful addition to our community. We are a very historical town. And we have people from all over the world stop here.”