Sgt. John Ordway

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Sgt. John Ordway

Death: 1818 (42-43)
New Hampshire
Place of Burial: Ordway Scott County, Missouri
Immediate Family:

Son of John Ordway and Hannah "Anne" Ordway
Husband of Elizabeth Ordway and Abigail Ordway
Father of Hannah Ordway and John Ordway
Brother of Samuel Ordway; William Ordway; Hannah Ordway; Steven Ordway; Mary "Polly" Ordway and 3 others

Managed by: Private User
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About Sgt. John Ordway

Sergeant John Ordway (c. 1775 – c. 1817), the youngest of ten siblings, was an important part of the Lewis and Clark Expedition across the United States. John Ordway was one of the sergeants from the United States Army who stepped forward to volunteer for the Corps of Discovery. Ordway exercised many responsibilities on the trip, such as issuing the provisions, appointing guard duties, and keeping the registers and records. John Ordway also kept a detailed journal about Native American life during the expedition.

He was the son of John & Anne (Morse) Ordway. He grew to adulthood in New Hampshire.

He enlisted in the military and was serving in Indian Territory when he was recruited for the Lewis & Clark Expedition at Kaskaskia, Illinois on November 28, 1803. He proved to be a valuable asset to the Corps of Discovery. (Click on images at right to enlarge and read)

Just after the expedition ended, Ordway received a land warrant for 360 acres of government land as part of his pay. He also purchased the land warrants issued other of the group, Jean Baptiste, John Lepage and William Werner. Combining them with his own warrant and additional purchases, Ordway soon was raising horses and cattle on a 1,000 acre plantation in the New Madrid district of the Territory of Louisiana. (Southeast Missouri.)

He returned to New Hampshire and married Abigail "Gracy" Walker, 21 Dec 1809, Merrimack county, New Hampshire. He returned, with his bride, to New Madrid District, Territory of Louisiana in the spring of 1810. In 1812 this district became New Madrid County, in the Missouri Territory.

Three of his siblings, and their families, also moved to the area. The year following Gracey's death in 1810, he married secondly the widow Elizabeth Johnson. Two children were born to this union; 1. Hannah b-1811, d-1839 2. John b-1812, d-1818

The former sergeant's prosperity ended late during the winter of 1811-1812, as it did for everyone living in the New Madrid area. Earthquakes on December 16, January 23, and February 7 — centered on the New Madrid Fault under the Mississippi River — were the 7th, 10th, and 21st largest, respectively, in United States history. For some moments, the Mississippi River famously flowed upstream. Water and sand geysered from the earth as high as treetops, and crashed down on houses. Topsoil dropped into sinkholes, and lakes formed where crops had grown. Buildings collapsed. The shocks were felt as far away as New York and Kansas.

Ordway and his family apparently continued in poverty until his death--although he certainly had learned during the expedition how to live lightly. On 5 February 1818, Elizabeth initiated probate proceedings for the estate of "John Ordway, Deceased."

Missouri became a state in 1821 and several new counties were laid off. The location of the John Ordway plantation at that time was and still is in Scott County.

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Sgt. John Ordway's Timeline

Age 43
New Hampshire
Ordway Scott County, Missouri