Home to the Heart of Kentucky - Again
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23rd Psalm for Genealogists
L.D. Buckner
2002 Trip

Monday, Sept. 16th - heading home

As we left Campbellsville around 10:00 am, a light rain began to fall, but we quickly drove out of it. We had a few extra minutes to get Jane-Ann to the Louisville airport for her 2:00 pm flight, so we squeezed in a drive-by visit through the parking lot of Churchill Downs (another Kentucky site with a Clark connection -- the Jockey Club and the Derby were founded by Meriwether Lewis Clark, Jr., a grandson of William Clark.)

After farewell hugs with Jane-Ann at the curb of the terminal, we conferred briefly and decided we weren't quite ready to leave our adventures behind. I suggested that we cross the river into Indiana and visit the site of George Roger Clark's home on the banks of the Ohio. Annis suggested that we cross the river on the George Rogers Clark Bridge, so we maneuvered our route through downtown in order to do that.

Falls of the Ohio Interpretive Center

We first went to the Falls of the Ohio Interpretive Center, where we arrived just in time to view a short video about the Falls and the unique trove of fossils found in the rocky shoals. When we entered the little theater of the Center, we were the only ones viewing the video, so we cheered loudly and applauded when the film mentioned George Rogers Clark and again when William's name came up. (Later, we found out that we were NOT the only ones viewing the film when a couple approached us in the museum and asked if we might be Clark descendants. We explained to the couple that we aren't direct descendants but are collateral cousins. They shared us an account of what they were doing -- traveling the route of the Lewis & Clark Expedition going westward from Harper's Ferry, VA. They hoped to get as far as Wood River, IL, in a few days, driving the route along the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers as closely as possible on backroads and highways. They shared our enthusiasm for Allen Eckert books, and we enjoyed discussing the bits of Kentucky and Expedition history with them.)

Falls of the Ohio
The fossil beds in the Ohio River are exposed during times when the water levels are low. These are described as the "largest naturally exposed Devonian fossil beds in the world."

Click here to read more about the Falls of the Ohio

Look closely at nearly any rock at the Falls, and you'll find interesting discoveries. While you are not allowed to collect physical samples, photos are always a nice keepsake. An online identification guide will help you interpret the images.

Sara snaps an image of fossils in one of the rocks


The General

General G. R. Clark
General George Rogers Clark (painting by Matthew H. Jouett belongs to the Filson Historical Society in Louisville.)

Mary and H.S. Clark
Mary and H.S. Clark, my grandparents. Grandpa always said "We're kin to those Clarks," speaking of General George Rogers Clark and his brother William Clark. At the time, it didn't make the impression on me that it should have.

We paused for a light lunch at one of the riverfront restaurants in Jeffersonville and then drove back to the park where a replica log cabin sits on the site where General George Rogers Clark lived in a cabin he built in 1803. He lived there for six years, when he moved across the river to the home of his sister at Locust Grove. He remained at Locust Grove for nine years until he died in 1818. From the front steps of his little cabin on the north side of the river, he had a magnificent view of a wide bend in the Ohio River.

The State of Virginia and Congress dealt Gen. Clark a nasty blow when they refused to acknowledge the receipts and vouchers he submitted for the expenses of the military campaign to capture the British forts at Vincennes and Kaskaskia. He had borrowed money to finance the operation which forced the British to cede the Old Northwest territory in the 1783 Treaty of Paris. The present-day states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin comprise the territory that General Clark secured. However, Virginia, whose government had authorized Clark's action, claimed they never received the paperwork, and he was hounded by creditors for much of his life.

Cousin George left his footprints all over this region!

General Clark and others in his army had received grants of land from the Illinois Grant, but Clark was forced to divest himself of most of his holdings, transferring some of the land to relatives, including his cousin William Clark (surveyor of the Illinos Grant), who in turn transferred some of the land to my 4x great-grandfather Benjamin Wilson Clark.

map of Clark's grant
General G. R. Clark tranferred a portion of lot 31 (shown in yellow) to his cousin, William Clark, who in turn willed it to his brother Benjamin Wilson Clark. B.W. later sold the land to his brother Marston Green Clark.

Excerpt from the will of William (the surveyor) Clark, proven in 1791 Jefferson County, KY:

It is my will and desire, and I do hereby give to my loving brother, Benj. Wilson Clark, one tract containing four hundred acres in the Illinois Grant, it being part of number thirty-one, to him, his heirs and assigns.

Barren County, KY, deed from 1800:

This indenture made this twenty-third day of June in the year of our Lord one thousand Eight Hundred, between Benjamin Wilson Clark and Frances his wife of the County of Barren & Commonwealth of Kentucky of the one part, and Marston Green Clark of Knox County & territory north west of Ohio River, Ohio, of the other part. Witnesseth, that the said Benjamin Wilson Clark for and in consideration of the sum of one thousand Dollars Current money to him in hand paid the receipt whereof he doth hereby acknowledge hath given, granted, Bargained, Sold, Aliened released, conveyed, and confirmed & by these presents doth give, grant, bargain, sell allow, release, convey & confirm, unto the said Marsten Green Clark his heirs Executors administrators & assigns a certain tract or parcel of land situate lying and being in the said County of Knox & territory aforesaid in the Grant set apart for the officers & Soldiers of the Illinois Regiment & commonly called the Illinois Grant. Which said four hundred acres of land are part of a Lot known in said Grant by Number (31) thirty one...

For his part, George Rogers Clark was left with only very small land holdings, including the spot on the banks of the Ohio where he built a small cabin. (Oh, by the way, the State of Virginia eventually found the "lost" paperwork, and several years after George's death, they credited his estate with $30,000 as partial payment for the money owed him. Virginia continued to find debts to Clark's estate, making the final payment as late as 1913, almost a hundred years after the General's death. Can you tell I'm still mad about this?)

George's little cabin on the north banks of the Ohio was host to several notable men in the nation's history.

This replica cabin was placed on the site in 2001. The original cabin which George built was demolished in 1854.

Roberta, in front of a giant sunflower and a tobacco plant, in the garden at George's cabin site.

In 1803, George's younger brother William joined up with Meriwether Lewis at George's little cabin on the banks of the Ohio, and the two captains set off on their expedition across the continent. Not far from the Falls of the Ohio Interpretive Center are two bronze figures of Lewis and Clark, inscribed on the base with a quotation that reads, "When they shook hands, the Lewis and Clark Expedition began."

Lewis and Clark - after preparations in the East, Lewis rendezvoused with Clark at George's cabin on the banks of the Ohio, and from there, they set off together on their westward journey.

After reading that, Sara said, "Well, then, when we shake hands, our Kentucky expedition will end." So we shook hands, got in the car and drove back to Illinois.

The End.

P.S. Thank you, Mom & Dad and Grandma Clark, for taking me to Kentucky all those years ago and starting me on the path of getting to know so many wonderful cousins!

Tension on the Lewis & Clark Trail


GPS coordinates of visited sites This page last modified 06/04/2016 Back to top