A Scientific American blog reports that a group of almost 200 collateral descendants is again requesting permission to exhume the body of Meriwether Lewis [1774-1809], who was the co-leader of the Lewis and Clark expedition of 1804-1806. Meriwether died on October 11, 1809 of two gunshots at an inn, Grinder’s Stand, while on his way to visit President Jefferson in Washington, D.C. The family hopes that forensic investigation will be able to determine whether Lewis’ death was murder or suicide. Because Lewis is buried on federal land in the present-day Natchez Trace Parkway, approval is required from the National Park Service, which has refused multiple requests in the past. In support of its effort, the descendants have established the web site, Solve the Mystery.
For numerous documents on the Lewis and Clark expedition, including the original letter from Jefferson first suggesting the idea in 1783 and the resulting journals of the expedition, see the American Journeys digital library at the Wisconsin Historical Society.
American Journeys contains many eyewitness accounts of North American exploration and settlement from the days of Columbus to the 1850s, with hundreds of references to matters of health and illness. (Note: The Carolina Curator was the digital production editor and metadata coordinator for this project).