WAYNETOWN — If anyone has any objection to recent changes to the William Bratton grave marker in the Old Pioneer Cemetery, Esther Duncan is quick to state that she will accept "full responsibility.”"If anyone would come here and see this, they might say 'Hey, there's something wrong here' so we wanted to be up front about it,” she said.Duncan, a rural Mellott resident and member of the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation, gathered other area residents and officials Wednesday to call attention to the changes. Plaques on two sides of the grave marker have updated two historical details from the original etchings on the marker itself.One of those is the removal of the middle initial "E" from the name of William Bratton, a member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition from start to finish, 1804-1806."I've had descendants tell me he never used the 'E' and to take it off. It might have been used initially to differentiate him from all the other Brattons (in the cemetery)," Duncan said.Bratton was "a fine Irish family" and in every generation, there was a William, she said.The other significant revision was the date of his wife's death, Nov. 19, 1875: Mary Maxwell Bratton is now shown to have died Feb. 13, 1875 at the age of 78."Mary's date of death has been a source of controversy for several years,” Duncan said."Normally, I don't like to make changes like that but we were able to authenticate it through research; her will was probated here,” she said.It was determined that the marker couldn't take re-etching so the information was changed by adding new plaques, she said. A few years ago, Duncan spearheaded a drive to restore the weatherbeaten Bratton grave marker, a project completed in 2003. Calling attention to the new plaques with the updated details seemed especially appropriate now, she said, since this year marks the bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.Bratton was the only member of the expedition to settle in the local Montgomery County area.Jim Keith of the Indiana Lewis & Clark Bicentennial Commission said that when planning began for the bicentennial celebration years ago, no one would have believed that Indiana had played such an important role. "They started here and ended here so Indiana did have a significant role,” he said. Waynetown resident and Funeral Director Nancy Shoemaker said she was thrilled that there was tangible proof of Bratton's significance locally."He wouldn't have had a legacy if he hadn't married Mary,” she said.Duncan said generous donations from sources such as Shoemaker and the state bicentennial commission had helped make the whole project possible. Marcia Bratton Brown, a West Lafayette resident and one of Bratton's descendants, said she'd learned a lot since helping Duncan with the project."We traveled 2,000 miles to the Portland, Oregon area,” Brown said."Every part of the country you go to, the stories you hear about every member of the expedition are just incredible. It's a wonder to me that they ever survived,” she said.As a U.S. Army private, William Bratton (1778-1841) joined the Lewis and Clark Expedition's Corps of Discovery near Clarksville, Indiana in 1803. The corps explored the lands of the Lousiana Purchase and the Pacific Northwest.Bratton's duties included hunter, blacksmith and saltmaker. He completed the entire journey and was discharged Oct. 10, 1806. He and Mary settled on a farm in Wayne Township in 1822 and Bratton held various local county and township offices, including Justice of the Peace.Duncan, who stages educational programs for school children in the persona of Mary Maxwell Bratton, said her interest in the whole Lewis and Clark story dates back to when her mother used to tell it to Duncan and her siblings while traveling."I was fascinated and it never occurred to me that she was telling us those stories to keep us quiet,” she said.

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