Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Hogs Eat Captain Lewis On the Natches Trace
Here lies the remains of the remains of Meriwether Lewis.
"In the language of Mr. Jefferson: 'His courage was undaunted; his firmness and perseverance yielded to nothing but impossibilities; a rigid disciplinarian yet tender as a father of those committed to his charge; honest, disinterested, liberal with a sound understanding and a scrupulous fidelity to truth.'"
Grinders Tavern. Was the final place that Lewis drew a breath.
"On October 10, 1809, a torrential rainstorm fell on the party. The pack horses fled into the forest and Lewis’ servants went after them. Major Neely begged Lewis to ride to the home of the nearest white settlers on the trail, promising that he would help to find the pack horses and the records they carried. Lewis agreed and the wet and sick man rode to the home of John Grinder, located about 72 miles from Nashville. The house served as an inn to other travelers along the Trace, so Mrs. Grinder graciously opened the door to him, although not before taking her children into an adjoining room. Mr. Grinder was away on business when Lewis arrived. A short time later, the servants arrived with the pack horses and Mrs. Grinder was reassured by their presence. She then prepared a meal for supper. "
One thing for sure it was not like the neat clean sharp edifice erected as a replica by the State Park Service.
Nor was the "Trace" such a well defined groomed trail that it is today.
"In 1811, Dr. Alexander Wilson told Mrs. Grinder’s account in detail. She stated that she was awakened several times that night by the sound of Lewis walking back and forth, once again talking to himself. In the middle of the night, she heard the sound of a gunshot and then the sound of something heavy falling to the floor. This noise was followed by the words, “Oh Lord!”
Immediately after that, she heard the sound of another gunshot and in a few moments, Lewis’ voice at her door. He called out to her. “Oh, Madame, give me some water and heal my wounds.” Through the chinks in the log walls, she saw him stagger and fall down between the kitchen and the room where Lewis had gone to bed. He crawled for some distance, raised himself up and then sat for a few minutes. He then staggered back to the kitchen and attempted to draw water, but was unable to. Mrs. Grinder refused to leave the room where she had been sleeping and assist him. In fact, she waited nearly two hours before even sending her children to the barn to rouse the servants. They came inside and found Lewis on his pallet again. He had been wounded in the side and once in the head. The buffalo robe that he lay on was soaked with blood and Lewis was barely hanging on to life. He whispered to them. “I am no coward. But I am strong, so hard to die.” He died just as the sun was rising over the trees. "
"Lewis was buried there on the property. The land now exists as the Meriwether Lewis State Park in Tennessee. According to Major Neely and the historians that have followed him, Lewis’ death was clearly a suicide. The man had been deranged and drunk and took his own life in the Grinder cabin. But was this really the case? If Lewis did in fact kill himself, then why do so many questions remain? Why didn’t Mrs. Grinder come to the man’s assistance? Why didn’t Lewis’ servants hear the gunshots? Were they somehow involved in a crime.. a murder, or a robbery gone bad? Regardless, there were really no eyewitnesses to Lewis’ death, as even Mrs. Grinder did not see the shots being fired. "
The park is one of the least visited of the Lewis and Clark sites.
"...legends persist today that state that the ghost of Meriwether Lewis still wanders the area where he breathed his last. The stories say that on certain nights, the sound of a water dipper scrapes against an empty water bucket and whispered words of “so hard to die” can be heard on the wind near Lewis’ grave site. The unsolved mystery of his death still remains and if the rumors and legends are to be believed, so does the great explorer’s spirit...."
Not much, if anything of Lewis remains buried beneath the obelisk marking his grave. The whole area is a cemetery full of unmarked graves. In 1848 the State of Tennessee decide to mark Lewis' grave. So that got some shovels and dug up graves. after they found one with right kind of nail for the coffin and some uniform parts and a skull with a hole in it they decide it was Lewis.
However there are other reports that soon after Lewis' death he was temporarily buried and the hogs got to him and ate most of him. So the big coffin made for him and brought up days later was loaded up with what was left.
Hog shit is a transcendental end that's not so bad.