Filson Plans Lewis and Clark Homecoming Events

By James J. Holmberg
Curator of Special Collections

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Portrait of William Clark by Joeseph Bush, ca. 1817. The Filson Historical Society“Captains Lewis & Clark arrived at the Falls on their return from the Pacific Ocean after an absence of a little more than three years.”

So recorded eldest Clark sibling Jonathan in his diary, November 5, 1806. The partners in discovery had pushed off from the Falls on October 26, 1803, with the nucleus of the Corps of Discovery – the Nine Young Men from Kentucky and York . . . and of course Lewis’s Newfoundland dog Seaman. They knew they would be gone at least two years, and by April 1805, William knew they wouldn’t return to Louisville until at least July 1806. On November 5, the triumphant captains and York, as well as some other expedition veterans arrived in Louisville. Whether any of the Nine Young Men were with them isn’t known. Charles Floyd certainly wasn’t. He had died in August 1804 at present Sioux City, Iowa. Some of the Nine Young Men might have actually arrived in Louisville in late September in company with Patrick Gass of the expedition, who carried to the Falls William’s famous September 23 letter to Jonathan announcing the Corps safe return. Others of this renowned group undoubtedly eventually returned later. 

In 2003, to honor the launching of this most famous of American exploring ventures, The Filson did extensive Lewis and Clark programming. The crowning jewel, of course, was our exhibit, “Lewis and Clark: The Exploration of the American West, 1803-1806.” In honor of their return, The Filson is again planning Lewis and Clark programming. While not nearly as extensive as our 2003 offerings, we believe that people will enjoy these offerings, including the opportunity to visit our Lewis and Jonathan Clark’s November 5, 1806, diary entry recording the return of Lewis and Clark to Louisville from their journey to the Pacific. The Filson Historical Society Clark exhibit. Details will be included in a future mailing. 

And, coming to the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History in Frankfort in October - the return of The Filson’s exhibit “Lewis and Clark: The Exploration of the American West, 1803-1806.” The Filson is partnering with the Kentucky Historical Society to again present its acclaimed 2003-2004 exhibit on Lewis and Clark. It will be at the center from early October to January. And on November 16, the Filson will partner with the Lexington History Museum for a Lewis and Clark program. Also, check The Filson’s website and the Kentucky Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Commission’s website, for listings of these and other Lewis and Clark homecoming events.

Friday, November 3, 2006, 9:00-4:00

Jim Holmberg will lead a bus tour of “Lewis and Clark at the Falls of the Ohio.” This tour sells out quickly so make your reservations early. Jim will guide us to the significant local Lewis and Clark sites of Mulberry Hill, Locust Grove, and Clark’s Point, providing commentary about the expedition and Louisville history along the way. This event is $55 for Filson members and $65 for non-members. 

Sunday, November 5, 2006, 5:30 

Join us for a special evening at Trough Spring, the home of Jonathan Clark. Still standing in Louisville’s Belknap neighborhood, it was here that William sent expedition letters and artifacts for family and safekeeping until his return. Lewis and Clark used Jonathan’s house as their base of operations while in Louisville. Bruce and Becky Campbell, the owners of Trough Spring, have graciously invited us into their home for this special evening in which Jim Holmberg reflect on the significance of the site and the expedition and hear from William’s descendant Peyton “Bud” Clark about his bicentennial experiences in reenacting his ancestor’s famous trek. This event is $35 for Filson members and $45 for non-members.

Monday, November 6, 2006, Noon

Join The Filson when two of our favorite Lewis and Clark talking heads, our own Jim Holmberg and renowned historical interpreter and scholar Clay Jenkinson, get together to share their thoughts on the tragic death of Meriwether Lewis. Clay of course is well known for his portrayals of Thomas Jefferson and Meriwether Lewis, as well as other historical figures, and has written about Lewis’s psyche. Jim has just had a book come out about Lewis’s death to which he contributed the case for the famous explorer committing suicide. Hearing these two nationally known Lewis and Clark scholars discuss the decline and death of Lewis and field questions from the audience should make for a stimulating program. This event is $25 for Filson members and $30 for non-members, this includes lunch served at Vincenzo’s.

Bighorn sheep horn brought back by William Clark from the Expedition. The Filson Historical SocietyThursday, November 9, 2006, Noon

York was William Clark’s enslaved African American at the time of the expedition. He made important contributions to the success of the venture and while never being truly treated as an equal he achieved a greater degree of freedom and equality than he ever had before. In the eyes of the some of the Native Americans encountered he was actually perceived as being superior to his white companions due to the uniqueness of his black skin. Join us on November 9 when York scholar Jim Holmberg and York poet Frank Walker team up to discuss and read poetry about York’s life.

Volume 6, Number 3

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