Main Content


Clark Goes West

In the midst of this turmoil was a young man named George Rogers Clark. He was born November 19, 1752 in Albemarle County, Virginia, the son of a wealthy landowner. Clark excelled in mathematics and surveying.

From 1771 to 1774, Clark explored the Ohio River Valley surveying land. In 1774, as the atrocities by Indians and settlers against each other escalated, Clark joined the Virginia militia.

In 1775, Clark was hired by the Ohio Company to survey land, which is now part of Kentucky. He was allowed to secure land for himself. He also became familiar with the many small settlements, the people, and the dangerous conditions in this beautiful land.

After a trip east to Virginia to settle his affairs, Clark returned to in 1776, ready to lead the defense of the Kentucky settlements.

Young George Rogers Clark

No contemporary image of Clark as a young man, when he captured Fort Sackville, is known to exist. Two attempts to gain an accurate image of Clark are displayed here.

The first image (below) by Indiana artist Rosemary Brown Beck is an oil painting on canvas, painted in 1976 for the Indiana State Museum bicentennial exhibit in honor of Clark's victory. Two portraits of Clark as an older man were painted while he was alive; Beck created this image of the young Clark from descriptions in primary resources. Clark was over six feet tall, well-built, with red hair.

Beck Portrait of Clark

Beck Portrait of Clark. A Commemorative History of the George Rogers Clark Bicentennial Exhibit (Indianapolis: Indiana State Museum Society, 1976), frontispiece.

The second image (below) was created by Glenn Miller, Forensic Imaging Unit, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Arlington, Virginia. The project was initiated by Leo Finnerty, park ranger, George Rogers Clark National Historical Park.

Computer-Generated Age-Regression

Computer-generated age-regression of Clark. National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and George Rogers Clark National Historical Park, National Park Service, Vincennes, Indiana.

Miller started with the Matthew Harris Jouett portrait of Clark, circa 1825. Reversing the technique to computer age missing children, Miller age-regressed the portrait image of Clark as an old man to achieve an image of a youthful Clark.

See also the painting of Clark at this age by Lloyd Ostendorf.

Exhibit Note - The Surveying Process

225th Anniversary Exhibit