This marker serves to educate tourists on the legacy of Patrick Gass. Patrick Gass served as a sergeant in the Lewis and Clark Expedition. He was an important part of the expedition because of his work as a carpenter. From the perspective of modern Americans and historians, his decision to maintain a journal during the expedition was his most significant contribution. Gass's journal became the first published journal of the expedition. Gass died in 1870, making him the last-surviving European participant of the expedition.
Patrick Gass was born
on June 12, 1771 in Falling Springs, Pennsylvania. His parents moved the family
around in the early years of his life before settling in western Maryland. At
the age of six, Patrick went to live with his grandfather. In 1792,
Patrick served as a substitute for his father and he had been drafted
to serve in the local militia. During a conflict with Native tribes,
Gass served at Fort Bennett’s Fort in Wheeling. Following his discharge in
1793, Gass joined a group of flatboat men and traveled to New Orleans, then
returning to Philadelphia thru Cuba.
In 1974, Patrick Gass
became an apprentice to a master carpenter and worked on a house that
was owned by James Buchanan, Sr. It was there that he became acquainted with
Mr. Buchanan’s son who would later become the fifteenth President of the
Gass worked as a
carpenter until 1799. During the Quasi-War with France, he enlisted under
the command of General Alexander Hamilton. However, this conflict ended quickly
and Gass was discharged in June, 1800. Gass again enlisted for
military service in May, 1801 joining Captain Russell Bissell and his
company at Kaskaskia, Illinois. In 1803, while still a member of Captain
Bissell's company, Gass learned of Lewis and Clark's mission and eagerly
volunteered to join the expedition. Gass provided a great asset to the
expedition, being one of seven journal keepers as well as a
skilled carpenter. He also possessed leadership skills, as evidenced by
his election to replace the late Sergeant Charles Floyd.
Gass's journal was
published seven years before Lewis and Clark’s journals. Gass also served in
the War of 1812 and fought in several battles of that war including the
Battle of Lundy’s Lane where a splinter from a falling tree cost him
one of his eyes. Gass was discharged in the Spring of 1815.
Patrick Gass went on
to make his home in Wellsburg, West Virginia. He was addicted to alcohol throughout
most of his life, but he settled down and married at the age of 59 and had
seven children. Patrick died April 30, 1870 at the age of 98 and is buried in
Brooke Cemetery in Wellsburg.