About Lucy Marks

Capt. Meriwether Lewis (August 18, 1774 - October 11, 1809)

Meriwether was the first born son of Lucy Meriwether and William Lewis. By the age of eight, he was already showing the characteristics of courage and resourcefulness that stood him in good stead when he later commanded Jefferson’s great expedition to explore the Missouri and Columbian Rivers from 1804 to 1806. At that young age, he hunted alone at night in the mountains and dark woods of Albemarle County. When his father died in 1779, he inherited his “Locust Hill” estate. William Douglas Meriwether became his legal guardian and his Uncle Nicholas Lewis exercised unofficial oversight (Bakeless). Meriwether moved to Georgia with his mother and her second husband, Capt. John Marks, along with his brother Reuben, in 1784. (There is a question whether Meriwether did move to Georgia with his family. It is known that he visited at least twice. {Benson}) They settled in the Goose Pond community in the Broad River area of northeast Georgia, where the boys enjoyed plentiful hunting and fishing. At home in Albemarle County, he pursued his studies with Dr. Charles Everitt, a physician, and then Rev. James Waddell, a blind parson, and Parson Matthew Maury. One visit to Georgia occurred in the summer of 1789 but Meriwether returned to his schooling in the fall. He kept in touch with his mother and family through long, chatty letters (Anderson, p. 501, Bakeless). In 1792, after the death of his step-father the year before, he traveled to the Broad River community to accompany his mother and his two half-siblings, John and Mary, back to “Locust Hill”.

Meriwether was drawn to army life and at the age of 20, he joined the Virginia Militia to help defeat the “Whiskey Rebellion” which began in Western Pennsylvania, but spread through other western states. He then joined the regular army and achieved the rank of captain at the age of 23. President Jefferson asked him to be his private secretary; the president then appointed him commander of the Lewis and Clark expedition at the age of 30. Following his return from the West, he visited President Jefferson at the White House where he became ill – probably late 1807. “He withdrew from public circles for several months, staying with his mother in Albemarle County, where he was probably treated by her and his physician [sic] brother Reuben.” (Dary, p. 80) By March, 1808, he had arrived in St. Louis to assume his duties as governor of the Louisiana Territory. As governor, Meriwether was traveling to Washington, D.C. to meet with officials when he died in 1809. Controversy surrounded the circumstances of his sudden death along the Natchez Trace in Tennessee – a controversy that continues to this day.

Patricia Zontine, April 2009