Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Freemasonry and the Lewis and Clark Expedition: Was Masonic Work Conducted during the Expedition?

The main question when this series was started is: Was masonic work conducted on the Lewis and Clark Expedition? If so, what type of activities? Did degree work take place? Did stated communication, also known as regular meetings take place?

In order for any type of masonic work to be conducted a few things would have had to have happened. First there would have to have been more men who were Freemasons on the expedition at the time to conduct closed door masonic work and activities. Second they would had to have a charter granted by one of the existing a grand lodge's. Had a charter been granted it likely would have been what is called a Time Immemorial Lodge. Such a charter would have allowed the masons to meet and conduct work as Freemasons during the expedition. The men of the expedition would also had to have been of the same masonic degree to meet and work in the respective degree. There is a minimum number required for each of the three degrees.

The research conducted so far has not yielded any information or proof that any other member of the expedition, except Captain Meriwether Lewis was a Freemason during the expedition or that any sort of masonic work or activities took place during the expedition.

However there is evidence Captain Lewis alluded to Freemasonry and firmly believed in his masonic teachings during the expedition in the journal he kept. Meriwether Lewis did this by naming three tributaries to the Jefferson River in Montana after three of three of the virtues taught in Freemasonry. His journals were transcribed by Project Gutenberg and are now available online. Here is the part of his journal that alludes to Freemasonry and mentions the Masonic virtues, wisdom, philosophy and philanthropy:

[Lewis, July 31, 1805]
Wednesday July 31st 1805. This morning I waited at my camp very impatiently for the arrival of Capt. Clark and party; I observed by my watch that it was 7 A.M. and they had not come in sight. I now became very uneasy and determined to wait until 8 and if they did not arrive by that time to proceed on up the river taking it as a fact that they had passed my camp some miles last evening. just as I set out to pursue my plan I discovered Charbono walking up shore some distance below me and waited untill arrived I now learnt that the canoes were behind, they arrived shortly after. their detention had been caused by the rapidity of the water and the circuitous rout of the river. they halted and breakfasted after which we all set out again and I continued my walk on the Stard. shore the river now becomes more collected the islands tho numerous ar generally small. the river continues rapid and is from 90 to 120 yd. wide has a considerable quantity of timber in it's bottoms. towards evening the bottoms became much narrower and the timber much more scant. high hills set in close on the Lard. and the plain high waivy or reather broken on the Stard. and approach the river closely for a shot distance vally above 11/2 M wd. About one mile above Capt. Clark's encampment of the last evening the principall entrance of a considerable river discharges itself into Jefferson's river. this stream is a little upwards of 30 yd. wide discharges a large quantity of very clear water it's bed like that of Jefferson's river is pebble and gravel. it takes it's rise in the snowclad mountains between Jefferson's and Madison's Rivers to the S. W. and discharges itself into the former by seven mouths it has some timber in it's bottoms and vas numbers of beaver and Otter. this stream we call River Philosophy. the rock of the clifts this evening is a hard black grannite like that of the clifts of most parts of the river below the limestone clifts at the 3 forks of the Missouri this evening just before we encamped Drewyer discovered a brown bear enter a small cops of bushes on the Lard. side; we surrounded the place an surched the brush but he had escaped in some manner unperceived but how we could not discover. nothing killed today and our fresh meat is out. when we have a plenty of fresh meat I find it impossible to make the men take any care of it, or use it with the least frugallity. tho I expect that necessity will shortly teach them this art. the mountiains on both sides of the river at no great distance are very lofty. we have a lame crew just now, two with turners or bad boils on various parts of them, one with a bad stone bruise, one with his arm accedently dislocated but fortunately well replaced, and a fifth has streigned his back by sliping and falling backwards on the gunwall of the canoe. the latter is Sergt. Gass. it gives him great pain to work in the canoe in his present situation, but he thinks he can walk with convenience, I therefore scelected him as one of the party to accompany me tomorrow, being determined to go in quest of the Snake Indians. I also directed Drewyer and Charbono to hold themselves in readiness. Charbono thinks that his ankle is sufficiently recovered to stand the march but I entertain my doubts of the fact; he is very anxious to accompany me and I therefore indulge him. There is some pine on the hills on both sides of the river opposite to our encampment which is on the Lard. side upon a small island just above a run. the bull rush & Cat-tail flag grow in great abundance in the moist parts of the bottoms the dryer situations are covered with fine grass, tanzy, thistles, onions and flax. the bottom land fertile and of a black rich loam. the uplands poor sterile and of a light yellow clay with a mixture of small smooth pebble and gravel, poducing prickley pears, sedge and the bearded grass in great abundance; this grass is now so dry that it would birn like tinder.—we saw one bighorn today a few antelopes and deer.-
[Lewis, August 6, 1805]
we beleive that the N. W. or rapid fork is the dane of the melting snows of the mountains, and that it is not as long as the middle fork and dose not at all seasons of the year supply any thing like as much water as the other and that about this season it rises to it's greatest hight. this last appears from the apparent bed of the river which is now overflown and the water in many plases spreads through old channels which have their bottoms covered with grass that has grown this season and is such as appears on the parts of the bottom not innundated. we therefore determined that the middle fork was that which ought of right to bear the name we had given to the lower portion or River Jefferson and called the bold rapid an clear stream Wisdom, and the more mild and placid one which flows in from the S. E. Philanthrophy, in commemoration of two of those cardinal virtues, which have so eminently marked that deservedly selibrated character through life.
[Lewis, August 7, 1805]
Wednesday August 7th 1805. The morning being fair we spread our stores to dry at an early hour. Dispatched Reubin Fields in surch of Shannon. our stores were now so much exhausted that we found we could proceed with one canoe less. we therefore drew out one of them into a thicket of brush and secured her in such manner that the water could not take her off should the river rise to the hight where she is. The creek which falls in above us we called turf creek from the cercustance of it's bottoms being composed of excellent turf. my air gun was out of order and her sights had been removed by some accedent I put her in order and regulated her. she shot again as well as she ever did. The clouds last night prevented my taking any lunar observations this day I took Equal Altitudes of the 0 with Sextant.
At one oclock all our baggage was dry we therefore packed it up reloaded the canoes and the party proceeded with Capt. Clark up Jefferson's river. I remained with Sergt. Gass to complete the observation of equal altitudes and joined them in the evening at their camp on the Lard. side just above the entrance of turf creek. we had a shower of rain wich continued about 40 minutes attended with thunder and lightning. this shower wet me perfectly before I reached the camp. the clouds continued during the night in such manner that I was unable to obtain any lunar observations. This evening Drewyer brought in a deer which he had killed. we have not heard any thing from Shannon yet, we expect that he has pursued Wisdom river upwards for som distance probably killed some heavy animal and is waiting our arrival. the large biteing fly or hare fly as they sometimes called are very troublesome to us. I observe two kinds of them a large black species and a small brown species with a green head. the musquetoes are not as troublesome as they were below, but are still in considerable quantities. the eye knats have disappeared. the green or blowing flies are still in swarms.
r the courses from the entrance of Wisdom river to the forks of Jefferson's river are taken directly to the objects mentioned and the distance set down is that by land on a direct line between the points; the estimated distances by water is also added in the body of the remarks on each course.
[Lewis, August 8, 1805]
Thursday August 8th 1805. We had a heavy dew this morning. as one canoe had been left we had now more hads to spear for the chase; game being scarce it requires more hunters to supply us. we therefore dispatched four this morning. we set out at sunrise and continued our rout up the river which we find much more gentle and deep than below the entrance of Wisdom river it is from 35 to 45 yards wide very crooked many short bends constituteing large and general bends; insomuch that altho we travel briskly and a considerable distance yet it takes us only a few miles on our general course or rout. there is but very little timber on this fork principally the under brush frequently mentioned. I observe a considerable quantity of the buffaloe clover in the bottoms. the sunflower, flax, green swoard, thistle and several species of the rye grass some of which rise to the hight of 3 or 4 feet. there is a grass also with a soft smooth leaf that bears it's seeds very much like the timothy but it dose not grow very luxouriant or appear as if it would answer so well as the common timothy for meadows. I preserved some of it's seeds which are now ripe, thinking perhaps it might answer better if cultivated, at all events is at least worth the experi-ment. it rises about 3 feet high. on a direct line about 2 miles above our encampment of this morning we passed the entrance of Philanthrophy River which discharges itself by 2 channels a small distance assunder. this river from it's size and S. Eastwardly course no doubt heads with Madisons river in the snowey mountains visible in that direction. at Noon Reubin Fields arrived and reported that he had been up Wisdom river some miles above where it entered the mountain and could find nothing of Shannon, he had killed a deer and an Antelope. great quantity of beaver Otter and musk-rats in these rivers. two of the hunters we sent out this morning returned at noon had killed each a deer and an Antelope. we use the seting poles today almost altogether. we encamped on the Lard sides where there was but little timber were obliged to use willow brush for fuel; the rosebushes and bryers were very thick. the hunters brought in another deer this evening. to tumor on Capt. Clarks ankle has discharged a considerable quantity of matter but is still much swolen and inflamed and gives him considerable pain. saw a number of Gees ducks and some Crains today. the former begin to fly.
[Lewis, August 9, 1805]
Friday August 9th 1805. The morning was fair and fine; we set out at an early hour and proceeded on very well. some parts of the river more rapid than yesterday. I walked on shore across the land to a point which I presumed they would reach by 8 A.M. our usual time of halting. by this means I acquired leasure to accomplish some wrightings which I conceived from the nature of my instructions necessary lest any accedent should befall me on the long and reather hazardous rout I was now about to take. the party did not arrive and I returned about a mile and met them, here they halted and we breakefasted; I had killed two fine gees on my return. while we halted here Shannon arrived, and informed us that having missed the party the day on which he set out he had returned the next morning to the place from whence he had set out or furst left them and not finding that he had supposed that they wer above him; that he then set out and marched one day up wisdom river, by which time he was convinced that they were not above him as the river could not be navigated; he then returned to the forks and had pursued us up this river. he brought the skins of three deer which he had killed which he said were in good order. he had lived very plentifully this trip but looked a good deel worried with his march. he informed us that Wisdom river still kept it's course obliquely down the Jefferson's river as far as he was up it. immediately after breakfast I slung my pack and set out accompanyed by Drewyer Shields and McNeal who had been previously directed to hold themselves in readiness for this service. I directed my course across the bottom to the Stard. plain led left the beaver's head about 2 miles to my left and interscepted the river about 8 miles from the point at which I had left it; I then waded it and continued my rout to the point where I could observe that it entered the mountain, but not being able to reach that place, changed my direction to the river which I struck some miles below the mountain and encamped for the evening having traveled 16 M. we passed a handsom little stream formed by some large spring which rise in this wide bottom on the Lard. side of the river. we killed two Antelopes on our way and brought with us as much meat as was necessary for our suppers and breakfast the next morning. we found this bottom fertile and covered with taller grass than usual. the river very crooked much divided by islands, shallow rocky in many plases and very rapid; insomuch that I have my doubts whether the canoes could get on or not, or if they do it must be with great labour.—Capt. Clark proceeded after I left him as usual, found the current of the river increasing in rapidity towards evening. his hunters killed 2 antelopes only. in the evening it clouded up and we experienced a slight rain attended with some thunder and lightning. the musquetoes very troublesome this evening. there are some soft bogs in these vallies covered with turf. the earth of which this mud is composed is white or bluish white and appears to be argillacious.
[Lewis, August 13, 1805]
This morning Capt Clark set out early having previously dispatched some hunters ahead. it was cool and cloudy all the forepart of the day. at 8 A.M. they had a slight rain. they passed a number of shoals over which they were obliged to drag the canoes; the men in the water 3/4ths of the day, they passed a bold runing stream 7 yds. wide on the Lard. side just below a high point of Limestone rocks. this stream we call McNeal's Creek after Hugh McNeal one of our party. this creek heads in the Mountains to the East and forms a handsome valley for some miles between the mountains. from the top of this limestone Clift above the creek The beaver's head boar N 24° E. 12 Ms. the course of Wisdom river or that which the opening of it's valley makes through the mountains is N. 25 W. to the gap through which Jefferson's river enters the mountains above is S 18° W 10 M. they killed one deer only today. saw a number of Otter some beaver Antelopes ducks gees and Grains. they caught a number of fine trout as they have every day since I left them. they encamped on Lrd. in a smooth level prarie near a few cottonwood trees, but were obliged to make use of the dry willow brush for fuel.
While there is no evidence found in any of the known journals of masonic work being conducted during the Lewis and Clark Expedition Captain Lewis did indeed take his masonic beliefs with him and used them during the expedition.

Previous articles:
Freemasonry and the Lewis and Clark Expedition: Introduction
Freemasonry and the Lewis and Clark Expedition: Thank You
Freemasonry and the Lewis and Clark Expedition: Information Sources
Freemasonry and the Lewis and Clark Expedition: Timeline
Freemasonry and the Lewis and Clark Expedition: The Type of Men who Joined Freemasonry in the Past