Lucy Meriwether (Lewis)
was an obvious choice for our chapter's namesake. Besides being the ancestor of five of our
founding members, she was the wife of an officer in George
Washington’s army and the mother of Meriwether Lewis. Her famous
son, along with William Clark, headed an expedition to
explore lands where no white man had ever traveled.
Like her son, Lucy's courage was infallible. Her husband died in
1781, leaving Mrs. Lewis with three small children. With the help
of her brother and brother-in-law, she continued to manage "Locust
Hill," their 1800 acre plantation in Albemarle County, Virginia.
On one occasion, a group of British officers attempted to confiscate the
plantation since it was occupied by a "mere" woman and 3 children.
When they confronted her, Lucy jumped to her feet, grabbed a
rifle from over the fireplace, and aimed at the officers. “The door
is behind you! Open it and go! Never come back. I warn you that I
am a good shot.” The officers left, never to return.
Lucy had proved earlier she knew how to shoot a rifle. With no
food in the house for supper, her husband and
some friends left one morning to hunt deer. Late that
afternoon, one of the servants threw open the parlor door and
exclaimed, “Miss Lucy, I see a big deer in the yard.” Miss
Lucy took the rifle from its rack and killed the deer. The hunters
later returned empty-handed.
When Mr. Lewis died, their land was sold to cover his debt. Since
the proceeds were not enough, his debtors wanted to also take Mrs.
Lewis’ land. She appealed to her neighbor, Thomas Jefferson, who
intervened for her.
Eventually, Lucy remarried and moved by wagon train with her new
husband to Georgia. But, he died after a short time and she
returned to Virginia with her children.