Peter M. Weiser bigraphy, stories - American explorer

Peter M. Weiser : biography

3 October 1781 - 1828

Peter M. Weiser (3 October 1781 – c.1828) was an American soldier and member of the Corps of Discovery on the Lewis and Clark Expedition. The town of Weiser, Idaho, and the nearby Weiser River are named for him.


Weiser was born in Pennsylvania of German parentage, the son of John Phillip Weiser. He was the great-grandson of noted settler and diplomat Conrad Weiser of the Pennsylvania Colony. He was enlisted as a private in the Corps of Discovery by 1 January 1804. He was probably recruited in 1803 by William Clark at Fort Kaskasia, Illinois while serving in the 1st U.S. Infantry.

He was one of several soldiers in the Corps who faced disciplinary problems before the expedition left Missouri. On 3 March 1804, he was court-martialed and found guilty of asking permission to go hunting as a pretext for an unauthorized visit to a nearby "whiskey shop." As punishment he was confined to camp for ten days.

During the expedition Weiser often served as quartermaster, cook, and hunter. During the winter of 1805-6, while the expedition was at Fort Clatsop, he was part of the salt-making detail on the Oregon coast. In the late spring of 1806, while the Corps was camped near present-day Kamiah in north central Idaho, he took part in a detached search expedition for food in the surrounding mountains. At the time, the Corps was camped by the Clearwater River waiting for the snow to melt on Lolo Pass. After the party noticed that the local Nez Perce had fresh salmon in their lodges, Weiser, Private Frazer and Sgt. John Ordway were sent on expedition to hunt for the fish in the nearby Salmon River, which they called "Lewis's River."

In July 1806 Weiser suffered a badly cut leg. Then on 24 August, when Lewis had gotten the expedition started toward Lemhi Pass, a Shoshone rode up from the rear of the column to inform Lewis that one of his men was sick. Lewis went back to discover Weiser, whom he dosed with tincture of peppermint and laudanum.

In 1807 Weiser, along with Corps of Discovery members John Potts and John Colter, joined the party of Spanish fur trapper Manuel Lisa on the Upper Missouri River. He was at Fort Raymond in July 1808. Between 1808 and 1810 he was on the Three Forks of the Missouri and the Snake River. He was killed some time before 1828, probably in a fight with Native Americans.

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