I started writing local history when I got my first computer twenty years ago. I grew up in Chicago, Illinois but moved to Omaha, Nebraska when my husband Henry got a job as a professor of physiology at Creighton University Medical School.
I decided to write about places to visit connected to the history of Omaha and Council Bluffs, Iowa, the city across the Missouri River from Omaha. It turned out to be an introduction to the general history of the American West. I fell in love with the period of the early 1800’s, and gradually began accumulating what is now a huge library and archives in our small home. By the year 2000 I had switched to studying the Lewis and Clark Expedition with the intention of creating a national guide.
A friend wanted to create a living history presentation on George Drouillard, the interpreter and hunter who was a member of the expedition. We started a Lewis and Clark Study Group at the Western Historic Trails Center in Council Bluffs to read through the Lewis and Clark Journals. The group began meeting in January, 2001 and has met once a week during September-May, and once a month in the summer, for twelve years now. You are welcome to join us if you are in the vicinity on a Wednesday morning. Study Group continues to grow, with more than 20 people in attendance.
I was the founding president of the Mouth of Platte Chapter (MOP) of the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation in 2001. Our chapter meets once a month for dinner and a program on third Tuesdays. Again, you are welcome to join us. The National Park Service headquarters of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail is located at Lewis and Clark Landing on the Missouri River in downtown Omaha. MOP members are volunteers and active in Lewis and Clark groups on local, regional and national levels. I received the Meritorious Achievement Award of the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation in 2007. My first book, Lewis and Clark Road Trips: Exploring the Trail Across America, was published in 2006.
Henry and I traveled almost all of the trail featured in Lewis and Clark Road Trips on several different road trips. We missed Lemhi Pass, due to a late fall snowstorm. I still want to drive the Blue Ridge Parkway and Meriwether Lewis’s route from Harper’s Ferry to Pittsburgh, destinations that I never got a chance to see. America is a wonderful country to explore, and the Lewis and Clark Trail covers almost all of it.
In 2009 I appeared on C-Span Book TV talking about The Death of Meriwether Lewis: A Historic Crime Scene Investigation, a book which I co-authored with James E. Starrs. In 2010 I appeared on Brad Meltzer’s History Decoded Series on the History Channel in the “Secret Presidential Codes” program. In 2012 a second edition of The Death of Meriwether Lewis was published called “The New Evidence Edition.” I am considered the leading proponent of the theory that Meriwether Lewis was the victim of a political assassination.
Since then I have been continuing to research the life of Meriwether Lewis and his time period. I find it absolutely fascinating and am in the process of writing a biography of Lewis and his times.