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Madison County Genealogical Society

Minutes of the Meeting - March 11, 2010


The March 11, 2010, meeting of the Madison County Genealogical Society was held at the Edwardsville Public Library in Edwardsville, Illinois.

President, Robert Ridenour, called the meeting to order.


In the absence of our Treasurer LaVerne Bloemker, Secretary, Barbara Hitch presented the financial reports for the month of February 2010.

New in the Library:

Our Librarian, Elsie Wasser, reported two new publications in the library.

A revised inventory of the Zimmerman Cemetery by Barbara Hitch including photos of the tombstones.

The Rev Carl Nelson has written a story about his life as a black student in the 1960s at Southeast Missouri State University. It will appear in a future edition of The Stalker.

*** NOTICE ***

Dues for 2010 are now being accepted. We would very much appreciate receiving your renewal checks by ASAP. Present members will receive one more Newsletter in February.


Do you have a family member that is interested in (or even obsessed with) genealogy? A membership in the Madison County Genealogical Society would be a very thoughtful gift. A gift card will be sent to the recipient of any gift membership.

The following memberships are available:
Individual/Family Annual Membership $20.00
Patron Annual Membership $30.00
Life Membership $250.00

Contact our Secretary, Barbara Hitch, at, about a gift membership.

March Meeting

On March 11, 2010, Ron Goldsmith, volunteer at the Lewis and Clark State Historic Site in Hartford, Illinois, presented a program on Illinois' Role in the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

The Lewis and Clark Voyage of Discovery

The Lewis and Clark Expedition began with an idea of Thomas Jefferson while still at Monticello. He wrote a letter to George Rogers Clark suggesting he lead such an expedition. Clark turned him down but his younger brother, William, would join Meriwether Lewis 20 years later to find river access through North America to the Pacific Ocean. Finding that access would create trade routes needed by the new nation.

France had ownership of the land but Napoleon was eager to give up ownership. A treaty was signed April 30, 1803, transferring Louisiana to the United States. The American flag was raised at New Orleans, December 20, 1803, even though the formal transfer of the area known as Upper Louisiana was not made until March 10, 1804, in a ceremony in St. Louis. France was paid $15,000,000 for the province that consisted of 883,072 square miles according to a United States Land Commission Monograph. Expressed in a little different form, it was calculated that the price paid was less than three cents an acre.

Jefferson requested and Congress approved $2,500 from Congress to cover the cost of the expedition. In addition to the $2,500, Jefferson would give Lewis a letter of credit, which in the early 1800s was like giving him a credit card. Congress would not know what it cost until they got the bills. The trip ended up costing $39,000.

Jefferson wanted more information than simply finding a route through Louisiana. He instructed Lewis that the Corps was to bring back maps of the region and to collect data on unfamiliar plants and animals. They were to gather and bring back examples of both. Temperatures along with climate changes were to be recorded in each area along with their effect on the plant and animal life. They were to record information about various Indian tribes and assure them they now had a new Great Father who was interested in their welfare.

The expedition would have to be entirely self sufficient for an unknown period of time. A 55-foot keelboat was built in Pittsburgh. Two smaller boats, called pirogues, would be added to carry enough supplies for the trip. A small group of men was assembled to get the boat to the confluence of the Ohio and the Mississippi Rivers.

Lewis and Clark agreed that their corps needed to consist of young unmarried men who could be away from home for an unknown amount of time. The men were to be strong frontiersmen who could handle the rigors of the trip and would be willing to follow orders issued in a military style. More members of the Corps would be added. More recruits would be added in Illinois than at any other site.

They arrived at Fort Massac, their first stop in Illinois, November 11, 1803. Fort Massac was viewed as a recruiting area. It was here where they recruited George Drouillard, John Newman, and possibly Joseph Whitehouse. Additional soldiers stationed in Tennessee were to meet the keelboat at the fort but had not yet arrived. Rather than detain the crew, Lewis sent Drouillard to locate the men and bring them to the winter quarters that would be in Illinois across from the confluence of the Missouri River with the Mississippi. It was necessary to put their camp on the east side of the Mississippi because the Spanish governor of Upper Louisiana who was overseeing that area for the French had not yet been notified of the Louisiana Purchase.

It would take only two days from Fort Massac to reach the confluence of the Ohio with the Mississippi at present day Cairo. Their next recruitment area would be at Fort Kaskaskia.

As they passed the confluence of the Big Muddy with the Mississippi, Lewis wrote of its importance in transporting coal from nearby mines, which shows the importance of coal to the economy of Southern Illinois even at that early date. At least eleven recruits were to be added at Kaskaskia. The number is unclear because Lewis had enlisted more men than he had been authorized to include on the journey. Some of the men became members of the permanent party. Others would return to St. Louis after wintering at Fort Mandan.

In addition to George Drouillard, John Newman, and Joseph Whitehouse, the following men are believed to have been recruited from Illinois: John Boley, John Collins, John Dame, Robert Frazier, Patrick Gass, Silas Goodrich, Thomas Howard, Hugh McNeill, John Ordway, John Potts, John Robertson, Ebenezer Tuttle, Peter Weiser, Isaac White, Alexander Hamilton Willard, and Richard Windsor.

It was necessary to add the second pirogue when the Corps prepared to leave Fort Kaskaskia. This was the white pirogue. Today there is a full sized replica at the Lewis and Clark State Historic Site in Hartford. Lewis would go from Kaskaskia to Cahokia by horseback while Clark would take the men and the boats upstream to the confluence with the Missouri. This camp would serve as headquarters for the winter while they trained for a journey into the unknown. They would spend five and a half months in Illinois. Lewis wrote in his journal that Camp River Dubois would be known as the Point of Departure.

This interesting presentation was very well received by the audience.