THE PROJECT: Conducting a world wide search for Corps of Discovery Descendants
Beginning in August of 1999, the The Clatsop County Genealogical Society, led by Sandi Hargrorve, began a search for direct and collateral descendants of the members of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Descendants were asked to submit documentation proving their relationship to a member of the Corps or a close relative of a member to The Clatsop County Genealogical Society. The genealogies were organized, edited and then published in The Lewis & Clark Corps of Discovery: Their Lives and Their Lineage.
(The Lewis and Clark Descendant Project)
In an email I received from Sandi on August 23, 2005, she gave me the following information. Documented direct and collateral descendants totaled 1669 people. There were 826 direct descendants representing 8 of the Corps members and 843 were collateral descendants. There were 33 members of the Corps of Discovery and the descendants represent 17 of them. The list of descendants represented 46 of the 50 states as well as Washington DC, Mexico, France, the Virgin Islands, Egypt, New Zealand, Canada and two Asian Countries. Of the total number it was almost equally divided between men and women.
THE REUNION: August 13, 14 & 15, 2004, Astoria, Oregon
The Lewis and Clark Descendants Reunion was centered at the Clatsop County Fairgrounds near Astoria. Many outstanding events were organized for the weekend. The official opening began at 4 pm on August 13, 2004. Members of the Chinook Indian Tribe presented the official welcome. The present members of the Tribe are descendants of the indigenous people who were living at the mouth of the Columbia River in 1804-05 at the time of the arrival of the Corps of Discovery. The tribe members were of great help to the Corps in suggesting a place to winter over and where to hunt for elk. An interesting fact is that under the Bush administration the Chinook Tribe is not officially recognized.
There were two featured speakers on Friday afternoon. Ron Craig spoke on York, the black slave of Capt. Clark. Little is know of the life of York and Ron has devoted much time and effort in researching his life. York was a full member of the Corps and was given equal status among the men. The second speaker was Rex Ziak (zeek) the author of In Full View a True & Accurate Account. This is an outstanding book covering the thirty days between November 7, to December 7, 1804, during which time the Corps was trying to make its way across the Columbia near its mouth. Rex is a wonderful speaker and his talk was well received.
Another memorable event took place during the afternoon and evening of Saturday, August 14. Following an outstanding salmon dinner by the Astoria Lions Club, buses were provided to take the descendants to Ft. Clatsop. This is the location where the Corps spent the winter of 1804-1805. The park remained open until 10 pm as a courtesy to the descendants. Several local men portrayed members of the Corps. Lucie and I were especially pleased because Shawn Williams of Warrenton, Oregon, gave life to Joseph Field. We very much enjoyed meeting Shawn and asking him questions about Joseph and events of the Expedition. We are descendants of Keen Field and wife Anna Lewis, a younger brother of Joseph and Reubin Field.
Another brother of Joseph and Reubin, Ezekiel, was a professional salt maker near Louisville, KY. Joseph was chosen by Lewis and Clark to set up a salt making station near the present day city of Seaside, OR, to make salt from sea water for use on the return journey. Today there is a replica of the salt making station in Seaside. The weekend following the Descendants Reunion Shawn and several other men reenacted the salt making party at Seaside.
On Sunday, August 15, buses and docents were provided to take the Descendants to the Long Beach Peninsula and the cities of Ilwaco and Long Beach in Washington, across the Columbia River from Astoria. The first stop was the beach at Seaview Ocean Approach where a group photo of the Descendants was taken. A lunch was provided and then busses were available to take members of the party to several destinations on the Long Beach Peninsula.
One of the destinations on the Long Beach Peninsula was the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center located at Ft. Canby State Park. Lucie and I especially enjoyed our visit there because one of the rangers, Fred Koontz, gave a talk on the contributions of Reubin Field to the success of the Expedition. Throughout the weekend Joseph and Reubin were mentioned many times and their important contributions to the success of the Expeditions were noted.
The following information about the Reunion was included in the correspondence from Sandi: 470 descendants attended the reunion. They traveled from 43 states and the two Asian countries.
Lucie and I want to express our sincere appreciation to Sandi Hargrove and the members of the Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery Descendant Project for sponsoring this project and hosting the Reunion. There is no way words can describe the tremendous effort that went into this project from its inception to its conclusion. The entire community of Astoria, the communities of Long Beach Peninsula and the staff of Ft. Clatsop also contributed much time and effort towards the success of the Descendants Reunion. We can say beyond a doubt that this was one of the most significant events of our lives.
The following people also deserve recognition as members of the Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery Descendant Project: Carolyn Brown, Larry Hargrove, Nancy Holmes, Mary Lovell, Misty O'Brien, Jean TerHar, Helen Gaston, Sandra Hargrove (Chair), Mary Ellen Langridge, Betty Narkaus, Ellen Shannon, K. Sharon VanHeuit and Carol Wamsher.
The Ancestors of Joseph and Reubin Field