Spring Regional 2008


Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation

Spring Regional

Hosted by CALCTHF

The Life and Times of Alexander Hamilton Willard

With a Field Trip to Sutter’s Fort

12-13 April 2008

Elk Grove, CA

Sacramento, CA

Wonderful speakers and great venues combined with lively discussion to make the LCTHF Spring Regional, “The Life and Times of Alexander Hamilton Willard”, held in Elk Grove, CA, a very memorable experience.  The discovery of previously unknown facts about Alexander‘s family activities in the Elk Grove area provided added benefits.  (see the July/October 2008 issue of Golden Notes for details)

About 60 people gathered at the Barbara Wackford Community & Aquatic Complex on Saturday, 12 April 2008, to listen to Karen Seaberg (LCTHF President), Karen Willard (a direct descendant of Alexander), and three speakers from the Elk Grove Historical Society.  Although most attendees were from CA, several other states were also represented (Oregon-2, Kansas-1, Washington-1, Nevada-2, and Kentucky-1).

Speaker topics ranged from the latest Foundation happenings, to the life of Alexander, to Elk Grove history ... which included a presentation on early Willard Family land holdings and activities in the Elk Grove area.  Two original poems were also read, written specifically for our gathering by Joe Fabel, poet laureate of the Elk Grove Historical Society (see below).

After a delicious potluck lunch furnished by the Elk Grove Historical Society, door prizes were awarded and a drawing for two Peace & Friendship blankets conducted.  Attendees then toured Elk Grove’s Heritage Park, paid a visit to Alexander’s gravesite, and then relaxed at a nearby community park named in honor of Alexander while enjoying refreshments furnished by Keith and Mary Ann Kvenvolden.  That evening attendees regathered to enjoy additional discussions at a local restaurant.

The next day about twenty attendees visited Sutter’s Fort State Historical Park in downtown Sacramento.  As  we entered the fort’s gates we were greeted with a cannon salute arranged specifically for our group.  After hearing an outstanding overview of the role played by Sutter’s Fort during western expansion, attendees took their own self guided tours of the Fort’s many offerings.  This included listening to park docents in period dress discuss the various activities that occurred at Sutter’s Fort.  After another firing of the fort’s cannon, attendees gathered for lunch at a nearby popular luncheon spot before heading home. 


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by Joe Fabel

Poet Laureate of the Elk Grove Historical Society

President Jefferson grasped the possibilities

Of a nation of states stretching to the Pacific

A feat beyond comprehension at the time.

Chosen for this challenging task of charting

Unknown native people, rivers, lands, flora, fauna

And distances was a band of hardy individuals.

Lewis and Clark planned the dangerous undertaking,

Identified equipment and supplies for this heralded

gamble to find a confirmation of the riches of West.

The mission needed the initiative and determination

Of a mixed band of experienced, intrepid explorers,

A group willing to face the unknown hazards awaiting.

Among those tasked was a tall, well proportioned

Individual possessing the needed skill of black smithy,

A physically demanding task of keeping the outfit going.

His name was Alexander Hamilton Willard, a member

Of a well respected extended family of skilled clock

Makers and hotel keepers among other noted crafts.

Willard remained a contributing member of the Corps

Of Discovery throughout the 3 years' long odyssey,

Each necessarily depended upon the skills of others.

After the Corps of Discovery returned to the known

Eastern states, Willard continued to be a productive

Citizen, participating in communities as a blacksmith.

Appreciating the bonds of family during his final years,

Willard moved to California to enjoy the home of relatives

In the Sacramento County community of nearby Franklin.

His tombstone stands proudly in the cemetery inscribed with

The reference to his participation in the Corps of Discovery,

Recalling the honors which belonged to that special few.


by Joe Fabel,

Poet Laureate of the Elk Grove Historical Society

It was a time of great adjustment,

An era of transition, an occasion

Of opportunity for one and all.

Families trustingly staked their resources and

Followed a path westerly out of the chains

Of economic despair found in the East.

The Donner's, the Murphy's, the Daylor's,

The Rhoads and the Wilder's were among

Those pioneers dedicated to improved lifestyles.

All sincerely believed in the rewards of work,

And the families sought foundation and growth

In the new communities by the Cosumnes River.

These early settlers experienced cooperation

As well as friction in their quest for land

And in their search for building a solid future.

The new land holdings were often outside of the

Protection of the settled law or the offerings

Of a Court to answer transitions of usage.

Yet, those hardy individuals, man, wife and children,

Faced each day's challenges with a determined mind,

Bringing to bear their emotional and mental stamina.

Often is heard the cliche` “The Stuff of Pioneers",

A reference to that spine hardening commitment

To forge a better chance, a better life for family.

Today we welcome an authentic, historical recounting

Celebrating the vibrant and proud accomplishments of those

Families who were pioneers of our Elk Grove Community.