From the Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, 209 years ago today:
The party that were ordered last evening set out early this morning. the weather was fair and could wind N. W. about five oclock this evening one of the wives of Charbono was delivered of a fine boy. it is worthy of remark that this was the first child which this woman had boarn and as is common in such cases her labour was tedious and the pain violent; Mr. Jessome informed me that he had freequently adminstered a small portion of the rattle of the rattle-snake, which he assured me had never failed to produce the desired effect, that of hastening the birth of the child; having the rattle of a snake by me I gave it to him and he administered two rings of it to the woman broken in small pieces with the fingers and added to a small quantity of water. Whether this medicine was truly the cause or not I shall not undertake to determine, but I was informed that she had not taken it more than ten minutes before she brought forth perhaps this remedy may be worthy of future experiments, but I must confess that I want faith as to it’s efficacy.—
Background by Journals editor:
Jean Baptiste Charbonneau would have a varied and lengthy career on the frontier, starting with his role as the youngest member of the Corps of Discovery. Clark nicknamed him Pomp or “Pompy,” and named Pompey’s Pillar (more properly Clark’s “Pompy’s Tower”) on the Yellowstone after him in 1806. Clark offered to educate the boy as if he were his own son, and apparently took him into his own home in St. Louis when the child was about six. In 1823 he attracted the notice of the traveling Prince Paul of Wurttemburg, who took him to Europe for six years. On his return to the United States he became a mountain man and fur trader, and later a guide for such explorers and soldiers as John C. Frémont, Philip St. George Cooke, W. H. Emory, and James Abert. He eventually settled in California and died in Oregon while traveling to Montana in 1866.