June 12, 1771: Frontiersman Patrick Gass Born in Pennsylvania


On June 12, 1771, frontiersman Patrick Gass was born near present Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. In the 1790s, he was stationed as a ranger at Yellow Creek, Ohio, and later across the Ohio River at Bennett’s Fort on Wheeling Creek. His job was to guard the frontier against Indian attacks. By 1797, Patrick Gass and his family were living in Brooke County. He joined the army two years later and was dispatched to Kaskaskia in the Illinois Territory.

In 1803, Captain Merriweather Lewis arrived in Kaskaskia and asked for volunteers for the Lewis and Clark expedition. Gass volunteered and kept a daily diary of the journey. His journal, published in 1807, was the only complete published account of the expedition available for several years.

Gass served as a private in the War of 1812, fighting in the battle of Lundy’s Lane and during the British assault on Fort Erie. In 1815, he returned home to Brooke County, where he spent the rest of his long life. Patrick Gass, the last survivor of the Lewis and Clark expedition, died in 1870 at age 98. He is buried at Wellsburg.