Their Childhood

Program Information

Program: Virginia’s Lewis and Clark: Roots of a Legacy
Segment Number: 3 (Watch entire program)
Duration: 00:05:04
Year Produced: 2003
Description:

Thomas Jefferson had a personal acquaintance with Meriwether Lewis, "owing from his being of my neighborhood," according to Jefferson. In fact, Lewis was born just 10 miles from Monticello at Locust Hill, his father's farm in Ivy Depot.

Meriwether Lewis was born in what is now Albemarle County, and William Clark’s family had roots in Albemarle soil. Their ideas of what lay beyond the Mississippi River were nurtured by Thomas Jefferson, a “vicarious westerner” who had never traveled farther west than Hot Springs. Jefferson intended to establish the United States as a continental nation, an “Empire of Liberty” that reached from Atlantic to Pacific. To further his goal, Jefferson sent Lewis and Clark’s Expedition of North Western Discovery. Their remarkable mission began here in central Virginia.

For more information visit: http://ideastations.org/lc

Transcript

NARRATOR:

Thomas Jefferson had a personal acquaintance with Meriwether Lewis, "owing from his being of my neighborhood," according to Jefferson. In fact, Lewis was born just 10 miles from Monticello at Locust Hill, his father's farm in Ivy Depot.

DOLLEY BUSWELL (owner of Locust Hill, birthplace of Meriwether Lewis):

Although Locust Hill got its name from the abundance of the locust trees that grew on the property in the years that Meriwether Lewis was here, this tree is an Osage orange, which was reportedly brought back to Charlottesville by Meriwether when he came back from his expedition.

NARRATOR:

Lucy Meriwether Lewis and Colonel WIlliam Lewis lived with their three children, Jane, Meriwether and Reuben, at Locust Hill until William's death in 1779. Six months after her husband's death, Lucy Lewis married Captain John Marks and they moved the family to Broad River Valley, Georgia. After her second husband's death, Lucy eventually moved back to Albemarle, and ran the farm at Locust HIll.

DOLLEY BUSWELL (owner of Locust Hill, birthplace of Meriwether Lewis):

She rode a horse and was like the local medicine woman, and of course 6,000 acres in those days was huge and she ministered to all the sick people who worked on the plantation. And one day a hunting party went out supposedly to bring back venison and she was having a big dinner, and while they were gone, there was a deer who actually was here in the yard, and I can attest that that happens on a daily basis, and she and the help in the house trapped the deer in a corner, killed it, and when the hunting party returned she was already preparing the venison, and they came home empty handed.

I'm not a part of history, but I can relive in my imagination what it must have been like for Meriwether Lewis as a young man to wake up, and look out of the window and see the mountains and wonder what was on the other side.

NARRATOR:

The southwestern mountains were the first mountain range Albemarle settlers encountered coming from Tidewater in the east. On the eastern slopes of this range is where land was first patented in this area, including the 1730 Nicholas Meriwether II land grant from England's King George the second.

SARA LEE BARNES (descendant of Nicholas Meriwether II):

We don't know exactly who built the original Nicholas Meriwether grant house. The structure that we have an image of, the daguerreotype, dates from the 1760's, and it is believed that that's the house that Lucy Meriwether Lewis Marks probably grew up in, and her cousin William Douglas Meriwether lived in all of his life.

NARRATOR:

While the Marks family lived in Georgia, Meriwether came back to Albemarle to receive a classical education.

SARA LEE BARNES (descendant of Nicholas Meriwether II):

For the time that Lewis was here, William D. took charge of his education and he went to the Reverend Maury school just down the road about 8 miles from here.

I'm a steward for my time here. It's still in the same family. I think that's a record of stewardship. It's still lived in and loved by a lot of people, a lot of family members. We hope that that will go on for another eleven generations, if not forever.

NARRATOR:

The Clark family had always been on the forefront of western expansion, first settling in King & Queen County in Virginia in the early 17th century. John Clark III married Anne Rogers in 1749 and the couple moved to a 410 acre estate in Albemarle County on the Rivanna River. Four of the Clark family children were born here, including George Rogers. In the mid 1750's the family moved to Caroline County, where the last six children were born, including WIlliam.

CLARA BELLE WHEELER (owner of Buena Vista, Clark family homestead):

This is where the Clarks lived, they had a normal farm, had children here, and moved on. The foundation for this cabin was found by the folks who owned the property before my family when they were farming. My father wanted to be accurate, historically correct, so he looked for a cabin, or log house, that was of the period. He finally found this particular log house which is very similar in size and shape to the foundation. It was the miller's house at the Walker Mill in a different part of Albemarle County. He had it completely disassembled and reassembled on site. And my mother actually had it open as a museum with artifacts and farming equipment, hunting equipment, that would have been something the Clark family would have had in their home.

As Virginians we like to hold them in complete awe, and they were pretty impressive people.