Name: Lewis Barrett Welch
Case Classification: Endangered Missing
Missing Since: May 23, 1971
Location Last Seen: Nevada City, Nevada County, California
Date of Birth: August 16, 1926
Age: 44 years old
Weight: 150 lbs.
Hair Color: Red/Auburn
Eye Color: Brown
Distinguishing Marks/Features: Lewis had been drinking heavily and was depressed before his disappearance
Dentals: Not Available
Fingerprints: Not Available
DNA: Not Available
Clothing: "Frisco" jeans and a denim jacket
Additional Personal Items: Boots, stainless steel heavy-frame Smith & Wesson .22 caliber revolver
Lewis Welch was last seen around Nevada City, California on May 23, 1971. On that date, he was staying with fellow poet, Gary Snyder, at Gary's house. Welch walked out of Snyder's house in the mountains carrying a . 22 handgun that he took from the footlocker of Snyder's. His body was never found.
Snyder found a suicide note from Lew that said: "I never could make anything work out right and now I'm betraying my friends. I can't make anything out of it - never could. I had great visions but never could bring them together with reality. I used it all up. It's all gone. Don Allen is to be my literary executor- use MSS at Gary's and at Grove Press. I have $2,000 in Nevada City Bank of America - use it to cover my affairs and debts. I don't owe Allen G. anything yet nor my Mother. I went Southwest. Goodbye. Lew Welch." Welch was part of the "Beat movement" of the 1960's, along with fellow poets, Philip Whalen and Gary Snyder.
Agency Name: Nevada County Sheriff's Office
Agency Contact Person: N/A
Agency Phone Number: 530-265-7880
Agency E-Mail: N/A
Agency Case Number: 1710-1215
NCIC Case Number: Unknown
NamUs Case Number: 17816
Added: Prior to 2011; Last Updated: 9/29/17
Questions or comments? Please contact appropriate member of the Area Team
** Listed information is from the time of disappearance.