Cape resident elected to Lewis and Clark board

Thursday, August 2, 2007

A Cape Girardeau resident starts serving a one-year term as a board member of the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation on Monday.

Jane Randol Jackson joins a 15-member board and will meet with fellow members three times during her one-year term. The foundation's annual meeting will be Monday in Charlottesville, Va.

Carol Bronson, the foundation's executive director, said from the Great Falls, Mont., headquarters that she is eager to meet Jackson.

"I would love to have a conversation with her about how do we decide what to keep," Bronson said. "What's important to me today may not be important in 25 years."

Jackson, 60, said she joined the foundation in 2000, after attending a 1999 meeting at Southeast Missouri State University and learning a bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark expedition was being planned. Because of Lewis' Nov. 23, 1803, dinner with Cape Girardeau founder Louis Lorimier, Jackson said, she helped form the Cape Girardeau Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Commission, determined to find a way for the city to be part of the 2003-2006 Lewis and Clark bicentennial re-enactment.

One of Jackson's goals was to have the re-enactors visit Cape Girardeau, which they did. Another was to recreate Lorimier's Red House. The replica, known as the Red House Interpretive Center, now stands by the floodwall. More than 200 people volunteered to help fund and build the center. Jackson has chaired the Order of the Red Hat, which recognizes those volunteers, since its 1999 inception.

The third goal, an archaeological dig on the site of the original Red House, was stymied after ground-penetrating radar indicated little remained underground.

The foundation maintains the explorers' trail across North America, is building an historical archive, and publishes a magazine, Bronson said. She estimates there are 3,500 members worldwide, among 36 chapters. About 250 are expected at next week's meeting.

Jackson, a former high school and college instructor, has directed the Cape Girardeau County Archives since 2001.

She's traced her own family name back to 1797 in Cape Girardeau.

"All the males in my family got Spanish land grants from Louis Lorimier. They were here when Meriwether Lewis had dinner at the Red House," she said.

Jackson said she likes to think her ancestors met Meriwether Lewis.

As county archivist, she's gathered proof that four members of Lewis and Clark's team returned to Cape Girardeau: George Drouillard, chief hunter and Lorimier's nephew; Sgt. John Ordway, who lived in what is now Scott County and the city of New Madrid; Alexander Willard and Reuben Field.

Jackson said she has three major goals for her one-year tenure on the foundation board. She wants to ensure Lewis and Clark's travel between Monticello, Va., and St. Louis is documented and preserved.

"Most people say it starts in St. Louis," she said. "Well, a big bird didn't just pick them up and drop them in St. Louis."

She calls the Monticello-St. Louis route the "eastern legacy" and says the foundation is working to get Congress to pass Senate Bill 3513, which would add sites from Lewis and Clark's return trip to Washington, D.C., to the National Trails System.

She'd also like to work on the foundation's archives and help them become a draw for Lewis and Clark scholars worldwide.

Finally, she'd like to end her term knowing the people who will commemorate the 300th anniversary of the trip "will have information and resources to work with down the road."

Bronson said incoming board president Karen Seaberg is from Blue Springs, Mo., and has suggested the group's May meeting be in Kansas City. In December, board members are scheduled to meet in Denver.

Bronson said the foundation's annual meeting in August coincides with the explorers' birthdays. Clark was born Aug. 1, 1770, and Lewis was born Aug. 18, 1774. To learn more about the foundation, visit www.lewisandclark.org.

pmcnichol@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 127

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