Lewis and Clark expedition member to get marker at Harrison grave
It has been 200 years since President Thomas Jefferson sent Capt. Meriwether Lewis and his cohort William Clark on an expedition of western North America. One member of that historic journey may remain in Harrison County today.
Pvt. John Shields is believed to be buried in an unmarked grave in Little Flock Cemetery in Buena Vista. The Harrison County Convention and Visitors Bureau plans to provide Shields with a grave stone and an historic marker though the exact location of his burial plot is unknown.
The rest of the Shields family appears to be buried at the cemetery in marked graves.
“We would like to pursue a real military headstone through the Dept. of Defense,” said Jim Epperson, tourism director at the CVB. “(The headstone) should be available to any member of the armed services, that was a military expedition, so our thought is that he should qualify.”
The bicentennial will be for the next three years, the duration of the journey, and there will be a lot of attention on Lewis and Clark in general, said Sean Hawkins, community development manager at the CVB.
Only one member of the expedition died during the journey, Sgt. Charles Floyd who probably was the victim of a ruptured appendix, but physical ailments were a common occurrence. Shields had a shoulder that was prone to dislocation and others would have to pull his arm until his shoulder went back into place.
On their journey to the Pacific, the group known as the Corps of Discovery traveled by keel boat up the Missouri River from its mouth at the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains. They traversed the mountains on foot, then floated and portaged down the Columbia River system to the ocean.
Dams have made it impossible to follow the expedition’s exact route today.
Lewis and Clark traveled through the future states of Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon before returning home. The two traveled through Indiana on their way to begin the expedition.
The size of the group varied but was mostly made up of servicemen.