America Unearthed: Meriwether Lewis Murdered?

Meriwether Lewis may have defended himself well at Grinder's Stand.

Meriwether Lewis may have defended himself well at Grinder’s Stand.

This particular show mixes great sleuthing with silly assumptions.
Sleuthing: Finding that the blood on Lewis’s Masonic apron was from two people; but neither was his blood.
Silly Assumption: That anyone at that time cared whether the Welsh had a prior claim to the Louisiana Purchase. Napoleon didn’t care when he sold basically all of the Mississippi drainage basin to us. We didn’t care. We had just kicked the “Welsh” and all other Englishmen, along with their claims, out of the Thirteen Colonies. So why would we care what else they claimed? And besides we were also legitimate descendents from those ancient Welsh so why would a British claim be superior to ours?
The only reason we didn’t claim Canada after the Revolutionary War was we didn’t think we could physically defend it. On the other hand, in the Mississippi drainage there were no British, nor French nor Spanish to stop us from taking it.
So much for the idea that people killed Lewis over Welsh, English, French or any other claims, particularly medieval ones.
Think about it: 1807, Grinder’s Stand is located in a sparsely populated backwoods. Highway men would need only the prospect of a few dollars to ambush and kill someone, and they had little fear of being caught. Lewis’s death is probably no more complicated than that.
Witnesses report that shots were heard at night. Lewis was seen crawling back into his room, but no one came to his aid or checked on him until morning. Why didn’t they rush to his aid, unless they feared being shot themselves?
Back to the sleuthing, when Scott Wolter asked if he could run a DNA analysis on Lewis’s Masonic apron, I was certain he would be turned down and we would be presented with another, “Gee wiz if only they would let us, I’m sure it would prove my theory right.”
But they let him take the samples!
Meriwether Lewis's Masonic Apron. Blood splatters at picture's left.

Meriwether Lewis’s Masonic Apron. Blood splatters at picture’s left.

I don’t know the details of DNA, but I do know that male to male descendent DNA is a clear match. So if Lewis and his grand nephew have a common male ancestor then it would be apparent in the DNA.
In the episode, Scott and Lewis’s many greats grand nephew take the Lewis descendent DNA to be compared to the blood splatters on the apron. Two types of blood are on the apron; neither matched the Lewis family line.
Our lack of knowledge about the family tree aside, it appears from the blood on the apron, that Lewis was ambushed, and was able to inflict wounds on two others during the fight that ultimately led to his death. Possibly the truth can be found by looking into the local record to see who suddenly disappeared or was reported to have died within days, or even weeks, of Lewis’s death. Said persons could be exhumed and their DNA compared to the blood splotches on Lewis’s vest. If the suspects’ remains are unavailable, then their male descendents’ DNA can be tested and compared.
A link to the story of Lewis’s death.

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3 Responses to America Unearthed: Meriwether Lewis Murdered?

  1. Keith says:

    I like America Unearthed but I agree he also jumps to huge conclusions with little or no evidence. The only episode I believed was possible was the Mayans in Georgia one because that made sense. They could have traded with people in the Americas. This Lewis episode is interesting because I saw a show which I believe was on Smithsonian that investigate this story. They concluded it was murder as well. They made a convincing case about the Inn Owner. Not the woman but her husband/partner? I forget what his name or relationship was. That episode stated that they would rob unsuspecting patrons of their establishment and also showed other cases from that Inn. The problem with Scott in this episode is that he doesn’t follow a lot of the leads the Smithsonian 2 hour episode provided. He only goes for the Europeans in America before Columbus theme. The family always believed it was murder. I don’t believe Lewis committed suicide at all.

    • admin says:

      I agree with a lot that you said. The Mayans, or other Central Americans in the U.S. is reasonable due to the proximity of the two places. I believe it is a fairly accepted theory by many legit archeologists. In my youth, I read a book by a credible author that stated the Souix Indians began in the lower Mississippi and were influenced by Central Americans or were themselves immigrant Central Americans. This was basis on a lot of similarity in practices, skill sets, and beliefs. It is a fact that many of the plains hunter-gatherer Indians were once farmers, but reverted back to nomads when the horse arrived from Europe. The Souix were apparently among those.
      The whole issue of pre-Columbian Europeans could probably be resolved with a concerted DNA gathering program, if sufficient numbers of Native Americans would participate. From another angle, DNA analysis in those European regions which are believed to have traded with the Americans might also reveal some interesting results. It’s pretty much true that any time two societies meet there will be some mixed off-spring. People descended from them could be on either side of the Atlantic.

  2. julie royce says:

    Fascinating. It might change the ending of Stephen Ambrose’s “Undaunted Courage.”

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