Burial Sites

1. Meriwether Lewis was born to parents William and Lucy Meriwether Lewis on August 18, 1774 on the family plantation called "Locust Hill" in Albemarle County, Virginia. The Lewis family also had a daughter, Jane, who was born in 1770, and another son, Reuben, born in 1777. Meriwether Lewis never married and had no offspring. He was appointed Governor of the Upper Louisiana Territory in 1806 by President Jefferson. In the early morning hours of October 11, 1809, shots rang out in a lonely cabin along the Natchez Trace where Lewis was staying. To this day it is not completely certain what happened. It is known that Governor Lewis died of two gunshot wounds, one to the head, and the other to the chest. He was only 35 years old. Most historians believe that Meriwether Lewis committed suicide due to depression and problems in his life and career, while a popular belief continues that he was murdered, perhaps by representatives of his political enemies. The explorer was buried not far from where he died, and today a memorial along the Natchez Trace National Historic Trail near Hohenwald, Tennessee, pays tribute to the man who led the Corps of Discovery to the Pacific Ocean.

2. William Clark was most famous as an explorer and Indian agent in the West. Clark was born in 1770 in Caroline County, Virginia, the ninth of ten children. In January 1808 the 38 year old Clark married 16 year old Julia Hancock, with whom he had five children. St. Louis became his home, where he often held several political offices at the same time and was involved in the fur trade and real estate. In 1813 he was appointed the first governor of the William Clark's Gravesitenewly created Missouri Territory, and was reappointed three times, until Missouri achieved statehood in 1821. Julia Hancock Clark died in 1821, and soon afterward Clark married Harriet Kennerly Radford, a widow who was also a cousin of his first wife. His most important post-expedition service was in his long tenure as Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the West. He died on September 1, 1838 at the age of 69 after a brief illness, in the home of his son Meriwether Lewis Clark on Broadway in St. Louis. Today, a plaque within the building at 200 North Broadway marks the location of Clark's death. After a grand funeral procession which stretched over a mile along the streets of St. Louis, Clark was buried with Masonic and military honors outside the city, on the farm of his nephew, Col. John O'Fallon. In the 1850s his body was moved to the new Bellefontaine Cemetery, a landscaped rural cemetery on the north side of the City of St. Louis, Missouri. A son by Clark's second wife, John Kennerly Clark, bequeathed money for a monument over the grave, a tall obelisk which was erected in 1904 and still stands today.

3. Sgt. Charles Floyd, the only man to die on the expedition, expired on August 20, 1804, probably as the result of sepsis from a burst appendix. He died either on the Nebraska side of the river or near today's Sergeant Bluff, Iowa. The Captains then took the body up the river to the next area of high bluffs which is in today's Sioux City, Iowa. A cedar post was erected over the grave with Floyd's name carved on it. In 1806, on their return down the Sgt. Charles Floyd's SkullMissouri River, Lewis and Clark wrote that the grave had been disturbed by Indians, although more likely animals had done the work. They reinterred Floyd's remains. "Floyd's Bluff" became a popular river landmark; the artist George Catlin painted it in 1832. By 1857 the Missouri River began to undermine the bluff and some of Floyd's remains were lost. The remaining bones were dramatically rescued and reburied by local citizens 600 feet to the southeast of the original site. In 1895, with a new Elliot Coues publication of the Lewis and Clark journals and the discovery of Sgt. Floyd's original journal, interest was generated in properly preserving and marking Floyd's grave. After some difficulty due to the loss of the wooden marker in the years since 1857, Floyd's remains were located. On August 20, 1895, the remains were reinterred on the bluff with a proper marker. On May 30, 1901 a 100-foot-tall obelisk was dedicated at the site. Ironically, Sgt. Floyd, who traveled a relatively short distance with the Corps of Discovery, is honored with the largest monument or marker of any member of the expedition. The gravesite is today a National Historic Landmark (designated in 1960).

4. Sgt. Patrick Gass, one of the oldest members of the expedition (1771-1870) and the last to die, is buried in Brooke Cemetery in Wellsburg, West Virginia. Gass was nearly 100 years old when he died. He was the first expedition member to publish a journal account of the trip (in 1807).

5. Pvt. William E. Bratton died on November 11, 1841, and is buried in the Pioneer Cemetery at Waynetown, Indiana.

6. Pvt. John Colter, the famous mountainman, is buried near New Haven, Missouri on private land. He died on May 7, 1812 at about age 38, according to his military record. Most older biographies, including that of Burton Harris, state that Colter died of jaundice in 1813 and was buried near Dundee, Missouri at a place later pierced by a railroad tunnel and called "Tunnel Hill." A direct descendant of John Colter named Ruth Frick researched and found what is now believed to be the actual gravesite in the 1980s. Colter's grave was marked in 1988 by a small group of men called the Tavern Bluff Party. The gravestone mentions Colter's service with Nathan Boone's Rangers in the War of 1812.

7. Pvt. Robert Frazer is buried in a family plot near Washington, Missouri. He died in 1837.

8. Pvt. George Shannon is buried in Palmyra, Missouri. His grave has not yet been identified and marked. Shannon died in 1836 at 51 years of age. He lost a leg in a fight with the Arikara in 1807 as part of a party led by Nathaniel Hale Pryor sent to return the Mandan Chief Sheheke to his people. Shannon began practicing law in 1818, and served as a senator from Missouri.

9. Pvt. Alexander Hamilton Willard died in Franklin, California (near Sacramento) on March 6, 1865, at age 87. He is buried in the Franklin Cemetery there. Willard served in the War of 1812. He and his wife had 12 children, and emigrated over the California Trail to the Sacramento area in a covered wagon in 1852.

10. Sgt. Nathaniel Hale Pryor hailed from Virginia and was probably born in 1772. Pryor moved with his family to Kentucky in 1783 and was one of the "Nine Young Men from Kentucky" signed on by William Clark. Pryor was one of the few married men on the expedition. By 1807 Pryor had received a commission as an officer in the U.S. Army, and led the party which tried to return Chief Sheheke to his people, failing after a bloody attack by the Arikara. Pryor left the army as a second lieutenant in 1810 and was an Indian trader on the upper Mississippi. He served once more with the army during the War of 1812, and fought at the Battle of New Orleans. After the war Pryor lived out his life at a trading post on the Arkansas River in present-day Oklahoma, where he lived with his Osage wife. Pryor died on June 1, 1831 and is buried in Pryor, Oklahoma, where a monument stands in his honor.

11. Pvt. John Shields was born in Harrisonburg, Virginia in 1769, and was the oldest of the men of the permanent party. His family emigrated to Pigeon Forge in Tennessee in 1784, where he established a mill and a blacksmith shop. Shields was married and had a daughter before he became one of the "Nine Young Men from Kentucky" in 1803. After the expedition Shields spent a year trapping with his relative Daniel Boone. He later moved to Indiana, where he died in December 1809. Charles Clarke, in his book The Men of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, states that Shields is "probably buried among some of his brothers in ‘Little Flock Baptist Burying Grounds,’ south of Corydon, Indiana." There is no marker for his grave.

12. Jean Baptiste Charbonneau
, who was born just prior to the expedition's departure from the Mandan Villages in 1805, was a mountainman and gold miner in the West. He headed for the newly opened Montana goldfields in 1866, but died on May 16 of pneumonia while traveling through Inskip Station, Oregon. He is buried there today. The site is located in Danner, Oregon, 3 miles north of Route 95.

13. Unlike so many expedition members who have no marked gravesites, Sacagawea has Sacagawea's Gravesitetwo! According to one version of the Sacagawea story, she died at about 25 years of age in 1812 at Fort Manuel (a fur trading post named for Manuel Lisa), along the Missouri River near the border of modern-day South and North Dakota (Corson County, South Dakota). A gravesite for her has not as yet been identified there. Many years later, an elderly Indian woman on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming was said to be Sacagawea of the Lewis and Clark expedition. She died April 9, 1884 at nearly 100 years of age. Both graves are marked as the real graves of Sacagawea. At Fort Manuel, the area of the burial ground for the fort is marked. Much of the area has been inundated by Lake Oahe. The Fort Manuel site was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on February 8, 1978 as the final resting place of Sacagawea. Most historians continue to support the written historical evidence of the Luttig Journal and William Clark's notes, and believe that Sacagawea died in 1812 at Fort Manuel. They discount the oral history and work of Dr. Charles Eastman and Dr. Grace Hebard in the 1920s and 30s. However, the grave of Sacagawea is also marked on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming.

14. Toussaint Charbonneau, n'er do well husband of Sacagawea and an interpreter for the expedition, is said by some to be buried in Richwoods, Missouri, about 40 miles southwest of St. Louis. Most Lewis and Clark scholars do not believe that the headstoneToussaint Charbonneau's Gravesite marked "Toussaint Charboneau, 1781-1866" [sic] in Richwoods is the man who was hired by Lewis and Clark as an interpreter in 1805. The dates on the headstone are simply wrong for Sacagawea's husband. It is known that the Charbonneau who accompanied Lewis and Clark was born about 1758 in Canada and died in 1843, when his will was probated. Many in Richwoods, however, say they are descendants of the Charbonneau of Lewis and Clark fame. Perhaps they are, and perhaps Charbonneau is buried in the St. Stephens Catholic Cemetery in Richwoods. No other place in America claims to have his grave. Further genealogical and historical research may someday settle the mystery of the Richwoods gravesite.

Last updated: April 10, 2015

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