FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 4, 2009
Howell Lewis Bowen
HOHENWALD, Tenn.—Collateral descendants of Meriwether Lewis have unveiled a Web site as part of their campaign to exhume and examine the American explorer's remains in hopes of determining conclusively how he died.
The Web site, www.SolvetheMystery.org, explains the Lewis family's more than decade-long quest to gain federal permission for the exhumation as well as a Christian reburial. Since Lewis' death in 1809, speculation has churned about whether he committed suicide or was killed.
The Web site also gives biographical information about Lewis, provides an overview of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, introduces visitors to the Lewis family, and encourages Americans to join the Solve the Mystery effort by writing letters to the secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior. The department's National Park Service controls the land in Tennessee where Lewis is buried.
"The truth-seeking campaign of the Lewis family repeatedly has been stalled by the National Park Service. We are asking the public to help us clear the way for exhumation of Meriwether Lewis' remains, along with a scientific study of his remains and a Christian reburial,” Lewis descendant Howell Lewis Bowen of Charlottesville, Va., said.
Thomas C. McSwain Jr. of Shepherdstown, W.Va., another Lewis descendant, said: "The family's demand for the truth is outranked by no other demand. While authorizing exhumations on federal land may not be welcomed by certain National Park Service officials, such action is appropriate—and even morally required—when requested by family members."
The Meriwether Lewis burial site, near Hohenwald, Tenn., features the Lewis grave and monument, along with a campground, a pioneer cemetery, picnic tables, exhibits and trails. The site is about 70 miles southwest of Nashville.
Lewis died in October 1809 at Grinder's Stand, a cabin along Natchez Trace. Lewis was co-leader of the Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1804-06 and was governor of the Louisiana Territory in 1807-09. The expedition covered roughly 8,000 miles and paved the way for expansion into the American West.
During a ceremony on Oct. 7, 2009, marking the 200th anniversary of his death, a bronze bust of Lewis will be dedicated to the Natchez Trace Parkway for a planned visitor center. The Meriwether Lewis Chapter of The Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation will host the event, called “Courage Undaunted—The Final Journey.”