Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Breaking News

Columns

December 4, 2013

NEAL: Lewis and Clark joined forces in Indiana

Duo set off for Louisiana Territory in search of a Northwest Passage

In 1803, President Thomas Jefferson asked Meriwether Lewis to lead an exploration of the Louisiana Territory in search of a Northwest Passage. Lewis invited William Clark to join him. It would become one of the most famous partnerships in history, and it started in Indiana.

“When they shook hands, the Lewis and Clark expedition began,” wrote Stephen Ambrose in “Undaunted Courage,” the best-selling account of the trans-continental journey.

Lewis was working at that time as Jefferson’s private secretary in Washington, D.C. Clark was living with his brother, George Rogers Clark, in Clarksville in the Indiana Territory.

The two met up in Clarksville on Oct. 14, 1803, and used the Clark cabin overlooking the Falls of the Ohio River as base camp while making final preparations. On Oct. 26, the duo and their initial crew members pushed off down the Ohio River in a keelboat and red canoe and headed west to St. Charles, Mo., the expedition’s official starting point.

“In practical terms the partnership of Lewis and Clark may be said to have begun during a 13-day interlude before they set out on Oct. 26,” says Stephenie Ambrose Tubbs, author of “The Lewis and Clark Companion.”

Clark recruited the nucleus of the Corps of Discovery from the area around Clarksville and Louisville after being directed by Lewis “to find out and engage some good hunters, stout, healthy, unmarried men, accustomed to the woods, and capable of bearing bodily fatigue in a pretty considerable degree.”

One of those recruits was Sgt. Charles Floyd, after whom Floyd County is named. Floyd lived in Clarksville and was the first constable of Clarksville Township. His death on Aug. 20, 1804, near Sioux City, Iowa, likely from a ruptured appendix, was the only fatality among the 33 members in the permanent party of the 1804-06 expedition.

Two others had Indiana connections. Pfc. John Shields was the oldest enlisted man at 34 and a friend of Daniel Boone. His skills as a blacksmith and gunsmith were considered critical to the trip’s success. Afterwards he settled near Corydon. He died in 1809 and was buried in Little Flock Cemetery in Harrison County.

William Bratton was a skilled hunter who moved to Indiana after the expedition and became active in military and government affairs. By 1822, Bratton and his wife lived in Waynetown and had 10 children. In 1824, he was appointed justice of the peace in Wayne Township and served as a local school superintendent. He died in 1841 and was buried in the Old Pioneer Cemetery in Montgomery County.

Indiana’s role in the expedition is often overlooked by historians, though Clark’s cabin and the crew’s departure site are popular attractions for Lewis and Clark enthusiasts. The Falls of the Ohio State Park in Clarksville has an interpretive center where visitors can learn not only about Lewis and Clark but also the Devonian fossil beds exposed at the riverbank.

The park entry features 10-foot bronze figures of Lewis and Clark mounted on a 16½-ton slab of Indiana limestone. The sculpture depicts the moment when Lewis and Clark greeted each other in Clarksville to begin their 8,000-mile trek.

 Andrea Neal is a teacher at St. Richard’s Episcopal School in Indianapolis and adjunct scholar with the Indiana Policy Review Foundation. Contact her at aneal@inpolicy.org.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Columns
  • STATE SEN. JIM BUCK: Changes pave way to a brighter future In recent legislative sessions, Indiana has enacted substantial policy reforms that resulted in greater economic freedom and stronger economic growth. Economic growth has real implications for Hoosier families: jobs for those unemployed; promotions f

    April 24, 2014

  • JEFFREY McCALL: U.S. networks struggle to cover economic news Network television newsrooms often must cover stories for which they have no internal experts. That's why aeronautic engineers and pilots are put on the air to analyze airplane emergencies. Judges and lawyers are paraded out to discuss whatever sensa

    April 24, 2014

  • Rob Burgess House of Burgess: You've gotta keep 'em separated

    In my career as a journalist I have served my time reporting on city council, county supervisor and state regulatory meetings, to name just a few. Whatever else they might have been, they weren’t holy places. In the many, many hours I spent there I never felt the presence of anything that might be described as transcendent or spiritual.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • ANDREA NEAL: A committee of 10 picked Ind. capital Editor's note: This is one in a series of essays leading up to the celebration of the Indiana Bicentennial in December 2016. Anyone who's ever served on a committee can relate to the old laugh line: A committee is a group of people who keep minutes a

    April 23, 2014

  • MAUREEN HAYDEN: Judge in gay marriage decision is no activist When U.S. District Judge Richard Young recently ruled in favor of a lesbian couple seeking recognition of their out-of-state marriage, opponents of same-sex unions called him an activist judge who was unilaterally trampling the law. The label didn't

    April 22, 2014

  • TOM LoBIANCO: Turner ethics case tests bounds of 'citizen legislature' When a legislative ethics panel meets this week to review the case of House Speaker Pro Tem Eric Turner, members could have trouble finding clear-cut answers, in large part because of the Indiana General Assembly's status as a "citizen legislature."

    April 22, 2014

  • Cleaning up Indiana could be as easy as a bottle deposit Scan the roadside on a drive through the Wabash Valley, and you might spot an empty pop bottle or two. Or two dozen. Or 200. Drink bottles have become our litter du jour. They compose an estimated 40 to 60 percent of all litter, according to the Mich

    April 21, 2014

  • Wolfsie: High-tech got you down? I love where I bank. It’s a branch inside of a big supermarket. I can make a modest withdrawal and then go and blow every last penny in the cookie aisle. The tellers at the window appreciate me. They know about my obsession with round numbers and und

    April 21, 2014

  • Vasicek: Celebrating Easter I have shared a few bits of Easter humor over the years, so I thought I’d start with a new one. Joseph of Arimathea was the wealthy Pharisee who is famous for helping to bury the body of Jesus. He procured the body, asking Pilate’s permission, and, w

    April 20, 2014

  • DAY: God trusted us with them Well, you heard about my wife and I, and our families from the past, so it is time for me to tell you about two of the prettiest girls I have ever known. They are our daughters Debbie and Patty. They are the greatest gifts from God that we have had i

    April 19, 2014

Latest news
Featured Ads
Only on our website
AP Video
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Obituaries
Poll
Kelly Lafferty's video on Tom Miller