Sergeant Charles Floyd was likely one of the youngest members of the Corps, around 21 years of age. He was born in 1782 probably at Floyd’s Station, just east of Louisville, Kentucky, a log fort established in 1780 by his uncle, John Floyd. Charles’s father, Robert Clark Floyd, had come from Virginia where he had served in the Revolutionary War with George Rogers Clark. Young Charles would have grown up in this frontier setting, familiar with a gun and the surrounding wilderness.
The family moved across the Ohio River into present day Indiana in 1799 and two years later Charles was named the first constable of Clarksville Township. The fact that the young man, about 19 or 20, was named keeper of the peace in a new and untamed township says much about his abilities, strengths and personality. William Clark would have been familiar with Charles, since the Clark and Floyd families were well acquainted – which possibly explains why the young man was appointed as one of the sergeants of the Corps.
There is some debate on the name of Charles’s father. While most believe it was Robert, others feel he was the son of another Charles Floyd. The confusion is understandable, since the elder Charles Floyd also had a son named Charles – who actually was the first cousin of Sergeant Floyd. But it’s clear that Robert Clark Floyd was the sergeant’s father because of the heirs who actually came into possession of Sergeant Floyd’s land warrant. It originally would have been given to Robert, and was later passed down to Mary Lee Walton, the youngest daughter of Robert and sister of Charles, who sold the land in 1839.
Charles Floyd died, of course, on August 20, 1804 and was buried on a bluff a half mile below a small stream that the Expedition named the Floyd River. The actual burial site doesn’t exist today, since the changing river course and eroding bluff have changed the area on the south side of today’s Sioux City, Iowa. The Sergeant’s remains are buried under the 100-foot obelisk which stands in a location near the original site, a lasting tribute to this outstanding young soldier and member of the Corps.
Today, the site of Floyd’s Station is within the city of St. Matthews, Kentucky where this memorial sign stands.
Discovering Lewis and Clark