May 20, 1804
23.49% Complete
Aug 30, 1803 Sep 30, 1806

May 20, 1804


The morning was fair, and the weather pleasent; at 10 oCk A M. agreably to an appointment of the preceeding day, I was joined by Capt. Stoddard, Lieuts. Milford [2] & Worrell [3] together with Messrs. A. Chouteau, C. Gratiot, and many other respectable inhabitants of St. Louis, who had engaged to accompany me to the Vilage of St. Charles; accordingly at 12 Oclk after bidding an affectionate adieu to my Hostis, that excellent woman the spouse of Mr. Peter Chouteau, [4] and some of my fair friends of St. Louis, we set forward to that village in order to join my friend companion and fellow labourer Capt. William Clark who had previously arrived at that place with the party destined for the discovery of the interior of the continent of North America    the first 5 miles of our rout laid through a beatifull high leavel and fertail prarie which incircles the town of St. Louis from N. W. to S. E.    the lands through which we then passed are somewhat broken up fertile    the plains and woodlands are here indiscriminately interspersed untill you arrive within three miles of the vilage when the woodland commences and continues to the Missouri    the latter is extreamly fertile. At half after one P. M. our progress was interrupted [hole]    the near approach of a violent thunder storm from the N. W. and concluded to take shelter in a little cabbin hard by untill the rain should be over; accordingly we alighted and remained about an hour and a half and regailed ourselves with a could collation which we had taken the precaution to bring with us from St. Louis.

The clouds continued to follow each other in rapaid succession, insomuch that there was but little prospect of it's ceasing to rain this evening; as I had determined to reach St. Charles this evening and knowing that there was now no time to be lost I set forward in the rain, most of the gentlemen continued with me, we arrived at half after six and joined Capt Clark, found the party in good health and sperits.    suped this evening with Charles Tayong a Spanish Ensign & late Commandant of St. Charles    at an early hour I retired to rest on board the barge—    St. Charles is situated on the North bank of the Missouri 21 Miles above it's junction with the Mississippi, and about the same distance N. W. from St. Louis; it is bisected by one principal street about a mile in length runing nearly parrallel with the river, the plain on which it stands—is narrow tho' sufficiently elivated to secure it against the annual inundations of the river, which usually happen in the month of June, and in the rear it is terminated by a range of small hills, hence the appellation of petit Cote, a name by which this vilage is better known to the French inhabitants of the Illinois than that of St. Charles. The Vilage contains a Chappel, one hundred dwelling houses, and about 450 inhabitants; their houses are generally small and but illy constructed; a great majority of the inhabitants are miserably pour, illiterate and when at home excessively lazy, tho' they are polite hospitable and by no means deficient in point of natural genious, they live in a perfect state of harmony among each other; and plase as implicit confidence in the doctrines of their speritual pastor, the Roman Catholic priest, as they yeald passive obedience to the will of their temporal master the commandant.    a small garden of vegetables is the usual extent of their cultivation, and this is commonly imposed on the old men and boys; the men in the vigor of life consider the cultivation of the earth a degrading occupation, and in order to gain the necessary subsistence for themselves and families, either undertake hunting voyages on their own account, or engaged themselves as hirelings to such persons as possess sufficient capital to extend their traffic to the natives of the interior parts of the country; on those voyages in either case, they are frequently absent from their families or homes the term of six twelve or eighteen months and alwas subjected to severe and incessant labour, exposed to the ferosity of the lawless savages, the vicissitudes of weather and climate, and dependant on chance or accident alone for food, raiment or relief in the event of malady. These people are principally the decendants of the Canadian French, and it is not an inconsiderable proportian of them that can boast a small dash of the pure blood of the aboriginees of America. On consulting with my friend Capt. C. I found it necessary that we should pospone our departure untill 2 P M. the next day and accordingly gave orders to the party to hold themselves in readiness to depart at that hour.—

Captn. Clark now informed me that having gotten all the stores on board the Barge and perogues on the evening of the 13th of May he determined to leave our winter cantainment at the mouth of River Dubois the next day, and to ascend the Missouri as far as the Vilage of St. Charles, where as it had been previously concerted between us, he was to wait my arrival; this movement while it advanced us a small distance on our rout, would also enable him to determine whether the vessels had been judiciously loaded and if not timely to make the necessary alterations; accordingly at 4 P. M. on Monday the 14th of May 1804, he embarked with the party in the presence of a number of the neighbouring Citizens who had assembled to witness his departure. during the fore part of this day it rained excessively hard. In my last letter to the President dated at St. Louis I mentioned the departure of Capt. Clark from River Dubois on the 15th Inst, [5] which was the day that had been calculated on, but having completed the arrangements a day earlyer he departed on the 14th as before mentioned. On the evening of the 14th the party halted and encamped on the upper point of the first Island which lyes near the Larbord shore, [6] on the same side and nearly opposite the center of this Island a small Creek disimbogues called Couldwater.

The course and distance of this day was West 4 Miles    the Wind from N. E.


a Cloudy morning    rained and a hard wind last night    I continue to write Rolls, Send 20 men to Church to day [7]    one man Sick    Capt Lewis and Several Gentlemen arrive from St Louis thro a violent Shoure of rain, the most of the party go to the Church


A Cloudy morning rained and hard wind from the [blank] last night, The letter George lost yesterday found by a Country man, I gave the party leave to go and hear a Sermon to day delivered by Mr. [blank] a romon Carthlick Priest    at 3 oClock Capt. Lewis Capt. Stoddard accompanied by the Officers & Several Gentlemen of St Louis arrived in a heavy Showr of Rain    Mssr. Lutenants Minford & Werness. Mr. Choteau Grattiot, Deloney, LaberDee Ranken [8] Dr. SoDrang [9]

rained the greater part of this evening. Suped with Mr. Charles Tayon, the late Comdt. of S: Charles a Spanish Ensign.


Sunday May 20th 1804. I and a nomber of the party went to the Mass, & Saw them perform &C


Sunday may 20th 1804    〈saved    a number of the party went to St [Charles] and saw them [illegible] and S〉 nothing worth Relating to day


Sunday 20th May 1804.    Several of the party went to church, which the french call Mass, and Saw their way of performing &c.—

Sunday may 20th    This day several of our party went to the Chapel, where Mass was said by the Priest, which was a novelty to them.—

1. This entry occupies the major portion of Lewis's fragmentary Codex Aa. See Introduction and Appendix C. (back)
2. "Milford" to Lewis and "Minford" to Clark, he was Clarence Mulford, first commissioned in 1800, from the state of New Jersey. In 1804 he was a lieutenant in Captain Amos Stoddard's artillery company; he resigned in 1811. Heitman, 482. (back)
3. Stephen Worrell, of Pennsylvania, was another of Stoddard's junior officers. He was appointed in 1801 and resigned in 1806. Ibid., 713. (back)
4. Lewis's hostess was Pierre Chouteau's second wife, Brigitte Saucier Chouteau. (back)
5. Lewis's last known letter to Jefferson before leaving St. Louis does not mention the date of departure; it is simply a list of goods shipped to Jefferson and is largely in Clark's hand. Possibly the list was an enclosure with the letter referred to by Lewis. Lewis to Jefferson, May 18, 1804, Jackson (LLC), 1:192–94 and headnote. (back)
6. The first letter of the word appears to be "L," but Clark's entries for May 14 clearly locate the island on the starboard side. (back)
7. Ordway was one of them, and perhaps Whitehouse, although his journal is unclear on the point. (back)
8. Sylvester Labbadie was related to the Chouteaus by marriage. David Delaunay became a judge under the new government. James Rankin, identified by Thwaites as "an early settler," was a surveyor and the first sheriff of St. Louis until removed from office in 1805. Thwaites (LC), 1:22 n. 1; Houck, 2:225, 383. (back)
9. Dr. Antoine François Saugrain was born in Paris and educated in physics, chemistry, and mineralogy, as well as medicine. After an adventurous career that included travel in Mexico in the service of Spain and capture by Indians along the Ohio River, he brought a party of French immigrants to settle at Gallipolis, Ohio, in 1790. In 1800 he settled in St. Louis, where he was surgeon for the Spanish troops, and in 1805 he received a similar appointment in the U.S. Army from President Jefferson. He was known to Jefferson, who as minister to France in 1787 had given Saugrain a letter of introduction to George Rogers Clark; hence, he was probably also known to William Clark, at least by reputation. He apparently gave help and advice to the captains before the expedition, although the story that he scraped the back off his wife's mirror to provide them with mercury for a thermometer is probably untrue. Saugrain has been called the "First Scientist in the Mississippi Valley." Chuinard, 195–212; Jackson (TJ), 45, 62 n. 7; Lewis to Jefferson, May 18, 1804, Jackson (LLC), 1:192. (back)