While she’s often overlooked, Lucy Meriwether Lewis Marks made an indirect but important contribution to the Lewis and Clark Expedition’s outcome. Meriwether Lewis’s mother was a talented and resourceful woman who effectively shaped her son to become an outstanding man capable of leading a group of soldiers across the continent. According to family history, “Lucy was a devoted Christian and full of sympathy for all sickness and trouble.”
Her extensive knowledge of herbs, wild plants and their medicinal properties led her to be renowned for her herbal doctoring. And she passed what she knew along to her son. She encouraged young Meriwether’s interest in plants and wildlife and she insisted the young man return to Virginia to receive a more formal education.
Throughout the Expedition, as the primary Corps doctor, he often employed what she taught him about herbal remedies. He even treated himself from time-to-time.
Meriwether remained close to his mother. Many of his letters to her remain, reassuring her of his safety, telling about his activities, discussing family news, and providing instructions for siblings.
After his death, Lucy carried on her plantation business and doctoring skills well into an old age. She was described by a family friend as having “refined features, a fragile figure, and a masterful eye.”
Clearly, because of his mother’s guidance and influence, Meriwether was properly prepared to be the man of knowledge and integrity who would lead the young country’s greatest exploratory expedition.