November 16, 1803
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Aug 30, 1803 Sep 30, 1806

November 16, 1803


Confluence of Ohio and Mississippi Rivers,
ca. November 15, 1803, Field Notes, document 3
Beinecke Library, Yale University

Passed the Missippi this day and went down on the other side after landing at the upper habitation on the oposite side. [1]    we found here som Shawnees and Delewars incamped; [2] one of the Shawnees a respectable looking Indian offered me three beverskins for my dog with which he appeared much pleased, the dog was of the newfoundland breed one that I prised much for his docility and qualifications generally for my journey and of course there was no bargan, I had given 20$ for this dogg myself—    Capt Clark and myself passed own [down or over] to the lowist point in view on this the W. [written over N] side of the river from the point of junction of the rivers— [3]    found below it a sand bar, and a willow point forming which in low water will prevent any vessels coming too within two or three hundred yards of the main sore or bank, tho' this is the place at which a fort must be erected if one is built on that side of the mississippi within many miles of the mouth of Ohio, from this place to the uper habitation (or the point which we maid from our place of observation in measuring the river) was 28 hundred and 50 yards; from the place of observation this place bore [4]    On our return which was at 5 m after 1 Oclock we were a little surprised at the apparent size of a Catfish [5] which the men had caught in our absence altho we had been previously accustomed to see those of from thirty to sixty pounds weight    we ditermined to asscertain the weight of this fish after taking the following dementions of it—

  F Inches
Length— 4 3 ¼
width betwen the eyes— 1 1
Circumpherence arond the head just above the
first fins and lower extremity of the gills
being the large part of the fish—
3 9
The dementions of the mouth when opened to the
ordinary, or easy practicable width was From the
center of the lower to the upper jaw—
0 8
Width from side to side— 0 10
Head—   44
Enterals [entrails]—very emty—   14
other parts of the carcase   65
The loss of blood, its lying out of the water six
hours in the sun, & the waistage from the
circumstance of being obliged to weigh it in
small draughts not having any method of
weighing entire may be estimated at, at least
Total weight—   128

I have been informed that these fish have been taken in various parts of the Ohio & mississippi weighing from 175 to 200 lbs. weight which from the evidince of the suject above mentioned I have no doubt is authentic—

saw a heath hen or grows [6] which flew of[f] and having no gun with me did not persue it—

1. This sentence is far from clear, but it appears they crossed to the western, or Missouri, side of the Mississippi and made observations there. See figure. This would be in Mississippi County, Missouri. (back)
2. The Delawares Lewis encountered here were a splinter group that had left the main body in Ohio in 1789 to follow some Shawnees across the Mississippi to the Cape Girardeau region. Lewis's Shawnees were probably part of the Absentee Shawnee. The Absentee group supported peace during the American Revolution and began moving in small groups to the Cape Girardeau region in the 1780s; many more followed after the tribe's defeat by Anthony Wayne in 1794. Both tribes received land grants from the Spanish administration in 1793, but the rapid influx of white settlers after the Louisiana Purchase pushed them south and west into Arkansas, Texas, and Indian Territory (Oklahoma). Weslager; Goddard; Callender (Shaw); Houck, 1:208–10. (back)
3. See figure. (back)
4. Lewis may have intended to enter here the rest of the observations taken at the mouth of the Ohio but for some reason changed his mind. There is a small amount of space at the bottom of this page in the Eastern Journal, and the next sentence starts at the top of the next page. See the undated material following this entry. (back)
5. Perhaps a blue catfish, which may weigh 150 pounds or more. Cutright (HLCJ), 142; Lee et al., 439. (back)
6. Lewis was no doubt familiar with the eastern variety of heath hen, Tympanuchus cupido cupido, now extinct. Here he probably saw the western subspecies, T. c. pinnatus, called the greater prairie chicken. Both are now grouped as T. cupido [AOU, 305]. Cutright (HLCJ), 142. (back)