A blood-stained Masonic apron reportedly taken from the dead body of famed explorer Meriwether Lewis will feature prominently in an upcoming program for the History Channel’s sister network, H2.
A film crew was on location Wednesday at the Grand Masonic Lodge of Montana in Helena, where the apron is housed, shooting footage for “America Unearthed,” which premieres on H2 on Dec. 21 at 8 p.m.
The apron, which was given to Lewis when he was initiated as a Freemason in 1797, is made of hand-painted silk backed with linen. The apron features a variety of Masonic symbols, including the all-seeing eye, the sun, moon and other signs.
Several stains on the apron have been analyzed and confirmed to be blood — possibly that of Lewis.
Will Yates, a producer for the show who was on location with the film crew, declined to say much about the show other than that the episode the crew was working on will be about the apron, which once belonged to Lewis.
Descendants of Lewis kept the apron for several generations until it was bought in 1960 by Joseph Hopper and given to the Grand Lodge, according to the Lewis and Clark Fort Mandan Foundation.
Lewis, who was likely the first Freemason to set foot in Montana, died under what some consider suspicious circumstances in 1809 from multiple gunshot wounds.
His death was ruled a suicide at the time, but some have since suggested he may have been murdered.
The 13-part “America Unearthed” will explore “hidden history” around the country, according to a trailer for the series.
The “America Unearthed” episode featuring the Lewis apron will likely air in February, said Yates, a producer with Committee Films, the Minnesota-based company producing the show.
The program is “going to blast the history books to pieces” Scott Wolter, the show’s host, says in a trailer for the series.
Past projects involving Committee Films and Wolter may, however, offer some clues as to the connections between the Meriwether apron and the “hidden history” theme of “America Unearthed.”
Wolter, a forensic geologist and author with silvering hair and chiseled features, was involved with a 2009 documentary for the History Channel called “Holy Grail in America.”
The documentary explores the possibility that the Holy Grail — a relic supposedly used by Jesus during the Last Supper — may actually have been stashed somewhere in North America by the Knights Templar, a medieval Christian military order.
While researching for his most recent book, “The Hooked X: Key to the Secret History of North America,” Wolter journeyed “through the mysterious worlds of the medieval Cistercians, the Knights Templar, and modern Freemasonry,” according to his website.
Other Committee Films productions for the History Channel have included “Who Really Discovered America?” and “The Secret History of America.”
Between shooting segments for the Lewis apron episode of “America Unearthed,” crew members, several Freemasons and the host of the show milled around the Grand Lodge’s museum — but once filming resumed those not involved with the production were asked to leave the premises.
What role — if any — the 200-year-old blood-stained apron has in uncovering the mystery of Lewis’ death, or some other piece of “hidden history,” remains to be seen.