Silas Goodrich

(possibly 1778—unknown)
Private, U.S. Army

Champion Angler

Silas Goodrich

by Michael Haynes

Sketch of a man catching a large fish with a pole and line

© 2001 Michael Haynes. Used by permission.

[July 17, 1804, Clark:] Gutrich caught two verry fat Cat fish

[July 24, 1804, Clark:] This evening Guthrege Cought a white Catfish, its eyes Small & tale much like that of a Dolfin

[September 7, 1804, Ordway:] a verry large cat fish caught. by Goodrich last night.

[June 5, 1805, Ordway:] one man by the name of Goodrich has caught a considerably quantity of fish. Some of which are Shell fish, but the most part are Small cat fish. . . . as we have a great pleanty of meat we do not trouble ourselves for to catch fish.

[June 11, 1805, Lewis:] Goodrich who is remarka-bly fond of fishing caught several douzen fish of two different species.

[June 12, 1805, Lewis:] I amused myself catching those white fish mentioned yesterday . . . they bit most freely at the melt [spleen] of a deer which Goodrich had brought with him for the purpose of fishing.

[June 13, 1805, Lewis:] Goodrich had caught half a douzen very fine trout and a number of both species of the white fish.

[August 20, 1805, Lewis:] Goodrich caught several douzen fine trout today.

[August 24, 1805, Lewis:] Goodrich who is our principal fisherman caught several fine trout.

Silas Goodrich was the expedition's principal fisherman. He also did well when trading for food with Indians from time to time. He was a sometime hunter, but not among the expedition's major ones.

Like Hugh McNeal, he visited Indian women and contracted syphilis among the Chinooks in 1806. Both men received the ineffective, mercury-based treatment of the day, dangerous in itself.1 In 1807, Goodrich joined seven other Corps members in petitioning Congress that their land grants be situated in Indiana or Upper Louisiana (Missouri), where they already had settled—rather than west of the Mississippi.2 Goodrich may have married and fathered eight children,3 but was dead by 1825–1828 when Clark jotted down the names of Corps members and whether they were living, had died, or had been "killed."

1. See details of the illness and treatment under Hugh McNeal.

2. On March 3, 1807, Congress passed an Act granting each of the enlisted men, including the sergeants, 320 acres "which . . . may be located . . . on any of the public lands of the United States, lying on the west side of the Mississippi." Donald Jackson, ed., Letters of the Lewis and Clark Expedition with Related Documents, 1783-1854; 2nd ed.; 2 vols. (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1978), 2:377.

3. Larry E. Morris, The Fate of the Corps: What Became of the Lewis and Clark Explorers After the Expedition (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004), 194.

Funded in part by a grant from the National Park Service, Challenge Cost Share Program