Last Cherokee survivor of Trail of Tears to be honored on June 8

Rebecca Neugin

LOST CITY -- The Oklahoma Chapter of the Trail of Tears Association will honor the last Cherokee survivor of the Trail of Tears during a ceremony beginning at 2 p.m. on June 8 in the Neugin Cemetery in the community of Lost City. This community is located in western Cherokee County near Hulbert.

In May of 1838, the family of Tickaneeski and Sallie Ketcher, including their three year old daughter Rebecca were rounded up in Georgia by soldiers and sent west by boat on June 6, 1838 in an Army detachment led by Lt. Edward Deas. They arrived in the west on June 19. Rebecca was married twice, first to John Smith and later to Bark Neugin. She lived in the Lost City community and had seven children survive to adulthood. She died at her home on July 15, 1932. Her approximate age was 97.

Singer, songwriter and playwright, Becky Hobbs, will be present to assist in the musical portion of the June 8 ceremony. The Lost City Community building will be opened prior to the ceremony for water and amenities. Mrs. Neugin will be the 157th person honored by the Oklahoma Chapter for enduring the forced removal.

President of the National Trail of Tears Association, Jack Baker, said TOTA chapters in nine states have "worked hard over the years" to identify and mark the trails and campsites used by Cherokee people as they traveled to Indian Territory in 1838 and 1839.

"In Oklahoma, they (Trail of Tears detachments) disbanded close to the border (with Arkansas). So, we decided in 1999 that the Oklahoma Chapter's project would be to honor those people who came on the Trail of Tears and made it possible for all of us to be here," Baker said during another marking ceremony last fall. "We wanted to mark the graves and bring the family members together. We have the markers so that when people come here to visit the cemetery, and you bring your children and grandchildren here, and they see the marker, you can tell them 'this is your ancestor who came on the trail.'"

He added along with marking the graves to make it personal for the families, the markers show that the Trail of Tears "wasn't just something that happened back in history."

The public is invited to attend the ceremony to help honor Neugin. The directions to the Neugin Cemetery are as follows: from Lost City go west on 710 road two miles; then turn right (north) on 400 Road for one mile; then turn left (west) on 700 road for 4/10 mile. The cemetery is on the south (left) and sits off the road. There should be plenty of parking inside the gate.