Cowboy Phil rides Trail of Tears

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The Cannon Courier

"Cowboy" Phil Moore and his steed, Newt, became "traffic stoppers" this past week in Woodbury as they ride across America, retracing the historic Trail of Tears.

"Newt (a cross saddle/quarter horse) is popular every where we go," noted Moore as they made a two-day rest stop in Woodbury, courtesy of the Middle Tennessee Mule Skinner Bill Smith and that organization. "We had several children, for example, stop us on historic Woodbury Public Square, so they could love on good 'ol Newt, who has been raised as a pet back on my farm in Newton County, Ark. That's near Mt. Judea, Ark."

"As Mule Skinners, we have hosted Newt and Phil, with Mr. Bill Smith donating the use of his historic Brevard House so Cowboy Phil could sleep over and rest his horse," noted Mule Skinners' President Andy Duggin. "The Mule Skinners have provided the food and fiber. We also showcased Cowboy Phil and Newt at a meeting of our area's Walking Horse Association, to put the focus on the historic significance of what Newt and Cowboy Phil are accomplishing. Plus, we wanted as many people as possible to see a real, authentic cowboy."

How authentic a "cowboy" is Cowboy Phil?

"Dad was a rodeo bronc rider, and Mother Greedith (both deceased) was an acrobatic rodeo trick rider, having appeared multiple times at Madison Square Garden in New York with the likes of motion picture movie stars Roy Rogers and his horse Trigger, a horse I've learned since passing through Middle Tennessee came out of Readyville in this locale," Cowboy Phil confirmed.

When not riding Newt along the Trail of Tears, Cowboy Phil acts and performs "stunts" in movies, including "Comanche Moon" and "Three-Ten to Uma."

"I was the first 'cowboy' killed in the stage coach robbery scene of 'Three-Ten to Uma,' Cowboy Phil added. "That was a very challenging movie to make. Both 'ComancheMoon' and 'Three-Ten to Uma' were filmed in and around Sante Fe, Mexico."

"I've watched all those movies," added Mule Skinner Duggin. "Cowboy Phil is the real deal."

However, this is not just another trek along the Trail of Tears.

"I've done maybe 12 cross-country rides across America down through the years," Cowboy Phil itemized. "But this time, it's different. This ride is just me and Newt and we're raising money for the impoverished children in America's Cherokee Nations. I got a communique, while resting over in Woodbury, that donations are coming in strong too. And I can't say enough about the hospitality shown me and Newt while we were in Woodbury."

While riding along Halls Hill Pike in Rutherford County, Cowboy Phil stopped in Murfreesboro Friday to do "The Truman Show" on WGNS Radio.

"Newt and I do all the media requests we can, because when the word gets out that we're benefiting the Cherokee Nations' people, that helps with donations," Cowboy Phil noted at age 62. "We began our journey 20 days ago out of Murphy, N.C., because that's near where the Cherokee Nations are based. Newt and and I try to average 10 to 15 miles a day."

The Trail of Tears was a forced march back in the 1830s when President Andrew Jackson ordered the Cherokee and Choctaw people out of Tennessee. Thousands perished on the forced march, resulting in the trail being named the "Trail of Tears" that ran through Woodbury, Murfreesboro, Smyrna and Long Hunter State Park in Wilson and Davidson counties and then through the states of Illinois, Indiana, Missouri and Arkansas before arriving in Tahlequah, OK.

You can follow Phil's journey on

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