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Text Fragments

Below are fragments of text (from the journals of Lewis and Clark and other contemporary sources) that were used as part of the York: Terra Incognita project. The fragments are on bronze plaques mounted on the boulders surrounding the sculpture to help “paint a portrait” of who York was.

York’s relationship with fellow members of expedition

”¦the swet run off our men in a stream when they row hard, York verry near loseing his eyes by one of the men throwing sand at him in fun & recved into his eyes”¦

William Clark
June 20, 1804                                                


York and hard labor

My man york verry unwell from a violent coald and strain by carrying meet from the woods and lifting the heavy logs on the works &c.

William Clark
December 28 1805


York’s relationship with the native Americans

The graetest curiosity to them was york Captn. Clarks black man.  All the nation made a great deal of him.  The children would follow after him and if he turned toward them, run from him a hollow as if they were terreyfied & afraid of him.

October 1804

”¦Some of the party also told the Indians that we had a man with us who was black and had short curling hair, this had excited their curiosity very much”¦ (and they seemed quiet as anxious to see this monster as they were to see the merchandise which we had to barter for their horses.)

Meriwether Lewis
August 16 1805      

”¦The Indians much astonished at my Black Servant and call him the big medison, this nation never saw a black man before”¦

William Clark
October 9, 1804


York’s hunting skills and gun

The Next morning we found that the buffaloe in passing the Perogue had trodden on a rifle, which had belonged to Captn. Clark’s Black man.

Meriwether Lewis
May 29,1805

”¦Derected my servant York with me to kill a buffalow near the boat from a numbr then scattered in the plains”¦

William Clark
September 9, 1804


York’s dry riverbed

”¦Draw up canoes and take shelter in an old indian Lodge above the enterance of a rives which is nearly dry it has latterly been very high an spread over nearly ¼ a mile in width.  Its chanel is 88 yards and in this there is not more water than could pass theough an inch auger hole.  I call it Yorks dry river”¦

William Clark
July 30, 1806


York’s treatment after the expedition

”¦He is here, but of verry little service to me.  Insolent and sulky, I gave him a severe trouncing the other day and he has much mended sence”¦

William Clark to Jonathan Clark
May 28, 1809

”¦I did wish to do well by him ”“ but as he has got such a notion about freedom and his emence services, that I do not expect he will be of much service to me again.   I do not think with him, that his services has been so great or my situation would permit me to liberate him”¦

William Clark to Jonathan Clark
December 10, 1808