First Black Man Across the Continent - Cairo, IL
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member YoSam.
N 37° 00.159 W 089° 10.312
16S E 306749 N 4097371
Quick Description: York was not William Clark's servant, as some historians report, he was his slave. This marker on the old custom house lawn in Cairo, not far from where the expedition stayed.
Location: Illinois, United States
Date Posted: 6/25/2014 6:11:11 AM
Waymark Code: WMM01X
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member Zork V
Views: 0

Long Description:

County of marker: Alexander County
Location of marker: Washington Ave. & 14th St., Custom House lawn, Cairo
Marker erected by: Cairo Historical Society

Marker Text:


York was the first known African American to cross the American continent. In the company of the Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery, from 1803-1806, he shared equally with them the rigors of the journey but when the Corps was honored, he received no recognition. Whenever the Corps came upon American Indian tribes, however, his uniqueness became apparent. To the Crow, York's blackness of skin was viewed as "Big Medicine". To the Shoshonis [sic] and Nez Perce, he was a man of curiosity and strength and awe.

Born about 1772 to slave parents, Old York and Rose, York was the body servant of William Clark. York grew up in Virginia and Kentucky and traveled with the future Captain Clark on his expeditions. In the early 1810's York was freed by Clark. Involved in drayage and domestic service in Tennessee. York lived possibly into the early 1830's.

FIRST - Classification Variable: Person or Group

Date of FIRST: 5/20/1804

More Information - Web URL: [Web Link]

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