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Alexander Hamilton Willard

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Alexander Hamilton Willard
BornJuly 1777 (1777-07)
Condor Corner, Town of Charlestown, New Hampshire
DiedMarch 6, 1865(1865-03-06) (aged 87)
Known forLewis and Clark Expedition
SpouseEleanor McDonald

Alexander Hamilton Willard (1777–1865) was a blacksmith who joined the Lewis and Clark Expedition.



Alexander Hamilton Willard Sr. was born in July 1777 in the town Charlestown, New Hampshire,[1] he was the oldest son of Lt Jonathan Willard and the only child of Betty Caswell.[2]


Willard had enlisted in a U.S. Army artillery company in 1800.

During an unsuccessful search for Baker Bay as part of the Lewis and Clark experdition, Willard and George Shannon were ordered to camp out and wait for the main party. While they were sleeping on the beach, a group of Native Americans took their guns, leaving them unarmed. The main party returned in such a timely manner as to startle the Native Americans into returning the guns. Although Willard had redeemed himself by this point, he had previously received the harshest punishment distributed to a member of the Corps of Discovery; "Court Martial on the Trail". The charges were lying down and sleeping at his post while on guard duty: a military crime punishable by death. The punishment was issued on July 12, 1804, and consisted of 100 lashes divided evenly over four straight days at sunset.[3]

During a portage around the Missouri River Falls in July 1805, Alexander Willard was attacked by a "White Bear", Clark gathered three men and chased the bear off. The island nearby later became known as White Bear Island in memory of that event.[4]

In 1806 during his stay at Fort Clatsop, Willard fell ill and then recovered.

With the Corps of Discovery, he assisted John Shields as a blacksmith. In 1808, Meriwether Lewis hired him as government blacksmith for the Sauk and Fox Indians; the following year, he was appointed to the same position for the Delawares and Shawnees. He later served in the War of 1812.


Half a year after the completion of the expedition, February 14, 1807, Alexander married Eleanor McDonald. She gave birth to their twelve children. They lived for many years at Platteville, Wisconsin.

Alexander and Eleanor Willard
  • Austin James Willard
  • George Clark Willard
  • Alexander Hamilton Willard Jr
  • Eliza Martha Willard
  • Roland Rudolph Willard
  • Christiana D. Willard
  • Joel Willard
  • Nancy Adeline Willard
  • Narcissa C. Willard
  • Eleanor C. Willard
  • Lewis Augustus Willard
  • Willis Willard


Alexander Hamilton Willard Sr. died in March 1865. He is buried in Franklin Cemetery in Franklin, Sacramento County, California.[5]


  1. ^ Gass, Patrick, and James Kendall Hosmer (1904). Gass's Journal of the Chris and Clark Expedition. A. C. McClurg & Co. p. xxi.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
    Clarke, Charles G., and Dayton Duncan (2002). The Men of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press. p. xii. ISBN 978-0-8032-6419-9.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  2. ^ Pope, Charles Henry; editor (1915). Willard Genealogy; Sequel to Willard Memoir. Boston: Willard Family Association. p.133.
    NOTE: Gives unsubstantiated b.d. of 24 August 1778.
  3. ^ Clark William. Dear Brother: letters of William Clark to Jonathan Clark. 2003. Yale University Press. 230-240.
  4. ^ Meriwether Lewis. 2004 Lewis and Clark Journals: An American Epic of Discovery. U of Nebraska Press.400-405. ISBN 0-8032-8039-4
  5. ^ Family Bible of Mary Ann Wakefield Willard, 1857 Present owner is L. Spencer Leister, of Long Beach, California, Newspaper clipping tucked into the Bible.

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