A couple of months ago as I was researching an ancestor for the 52 Ancestors 52 Weeks prompt, I discovered that I may be related to one of my favorite explorers. So, I went to work researching this new possible connection. You can imagine my excitement when I found that I was indeed related to him. He definitely put a lot of America on the map!
Meriwether Lewis, my 3rd cousin 7 times removed, was born on August 18, 1774, in Albemarle County, Virginia. At an early age his family moved to Georgia. He had no formal education until he was 13 years of age, but during his time in Georgia he enhanced his skills as a hunter and outdoors man. He would often venture out in the middle of the night in the dead of winter with only his dog to go hunting. Even at an early age, he was interested in natural history, which would develop into a lifelong passion. His mother taught him how to gather wild herbs for medicinal purposes.
In 1801, at the age of 27, Thomas Jefferson recruited Lewis as his Secretary, and he resided in the presidential mansion, and frequently conversed with various prominent figures in politics, the arts and other circles. He soon became involved in the planning of the Corps of Discovery expedition across the Louisiana Purchase.
In 1803 Congress appropriated funds for the Expedition, and Lewis was commissioned its leader. With Jefferson’s consent, Lewis offered the post of co-captain of the expedition to William Clark. The expedition took almost three years and solidified the United States’ claims to land across the continent, and acquainted the world with new species, new people and new territory.
They returned home with an immense amount of information about the region as well as numerous plant and animal specimens. Upon the Corps’ successful return, Jefferson appointed Lewis governor of the Louisiana Territory and granted him a reward of 1500 acres.
Because of this expedition, the territory beginning in my home town of Lexington, Lafayette County, Missouri going Northwest through the Dakota’s, Montana, and into Oregon was mapped for future reference. Meriwether Lewis died on October 11,1809, at the Grinder House , near Nashville, Tennessee. At the age of 35, it was determined that he had committed suicide.