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George Gibson

This biography is from a paper by George H. Yater originally presented at the 1991 annual meeting of the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation in Louisville and subsequently published in "Nine Young Men from Kentucky," a May 1992 supplementary publication of We Proceeded On, the official publication of the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation

Private George Gibson is the least known of the nine young men from Kentucky, almost nothing is known of him. He was a native of Pennsylvania-Mercer County, on the Ohio border north of Pittsburgh-but was probably reared in Kentucky. You may have the idea by now that Kentucky was populated in its early days exclusively by Virginians, but that's not true. Pennsylvanians came by the thousands-and to understand why, just look at the map. The Ohio River begins at Pittsburgh and flows right to Kentucky-a ready-made easy access.

Gibson was said to be a fine hunter and horseman and played the violin-but I'll bet he called it a fiddle. Sergeant Ordway, in his journal, indicates that Gibson was something of an Indian interpreter and that there was some rivalry with George Drouillard in this regard. That is difficult to accept, however. If Gibson were acquainted with some Indian dialects it would have been that of the Ohio Indians-the Algonquin language family and a knowledge useless west of the Mississippi.1

Gibson was married after the Expedition and died in St. Louis in 1809. That is the extent of present knowledge. His story, like that of so many other Expedition members, belongs to the short and simple annals of the poor.2


  1. Charles G. Clarke, The Men of the Lewis and Clark Expedition: A Biographical Roster of the Fifty-one Members (Glendale, Calif., Arthur H. Clark Co., 1970), 44-45.

  2. Ibid., 7.

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