The Emancipation Monument

On April 14, 1876, a 70-year-old African American named Archer Alexander, would be immortalized as the man that represented the former enslaved on the Freedom Memorial, also often referred to as the Emancipation Monument, in our Nation’s Capital. With him was President Abraham Lincoln, the very man who had given him freedom. His first biographer William Greenleaf Eliot stated “whose freedom came directly from the hand of President Lincoln… and his own hands had helped to break the chains that bound him.  The identity of the monument’s enslaved man would not be fully recognized until Eliot’s The Story of Archer Alexander was published in 1885. However, recent research reveals that there is much more to this story and that Eliot’s book should be treated as historical fiction. Today, it is even more important that Archer’s actual life be known and his story told.

Archer Alexander

Archer, born in 1806 in Rockbridge County, Virginia, was brought to Missouri in 1829 by his enslaver James H. Alexander. He and his wife Louisa would live the next 30 years in St. Charles County and raise at least 7 of their 10 children. By 1844, the family had been split between two owners with Louisa’s enslaver being a merchant named James Naylor and Archer being enslaved by his neighbor Richard H. Pitman. In January 1863, Archer overheard the area men plotting to destroy a nearby railroad bridge where it crossed Peruque Creek, a vital link for the Union troops in Missouri. Archer informed them of the threat, thereby saving hundreds of lives and a nearby contraband camp. When the informant’s identity was discovered, Archer had to flee via the network to freedom known as the underground railroad.

Archer found refuge in St. Louis in the home of an abolitionist and Unitarian minister named William Greenleaf Eliot, the founder of Washington University. Eliot was also a founding member of the Western Sanitary Commission, a non-profit commission established by Major General John C. Fremont at the beginning of the war, that would be in charge of establishing hospitals, nurses, and necessary aid for the Union Troops, both white and black. They also assisted with the contraband camps, Freedmen’s Bureau, and the refugees fleeing the south.

Not only did Eliot provide refuge for Archer, but used his military connections to see him “declared to be an emancipated slave and a FREE MAN by virtue of the proclamation of President… His freedom was granted for “important services to the U.S. military forces and “disloyalty of Master” on September 24, 1863.

Their fateful connection did not end there. On April 14, 1865, at 10:15 in the evening at Ford’s Theater in Washington DC John Wilkes Booth entered the back of Lincoln’s theater box, crept up from behind, and fired at the back of Lincoln’s head, mortally wounding him. After being attended by doctors, Lincoln was taken across the street to Petersen House. Lincoln died at 7:22 in the morning on April 15. The morning following the assassination, upon hearing of President Lincoln’s murder “Charlotte Scott, an emancipated slave, brought five dollars to her former master, a Union refugee from Virginia, residing in Marietta, Ohio. It was her first earnings as a free woman, and she begged that it might be used “to make a monument to Massa Lincoln, the best friend the colored people ever had.””Mr. Rucker placed it in the hands of General Smith, who forwarded it to Mr. James E. Yeatman, President of the Western Sanitary Commission of St. Louis …Would it not be well to take up this suggestion, and make it known to the freedmen? The suggestion was accepted, and a circular letter was published inviting all freedmen to send contributions for the purpose to the Commission in St. Louis. In response, liberal sums were received from colored soldiers at Natchez, Miss., amounting to $12,150, which was soon increased from other sources to $16,242.

William Greenleaf Eliot
Missouri Historical Society

Portraits n38667

The project fell into the commission’s lap because of its relief work for the many thousands of black refugees in the western theater during the war. The circular states “A Monument is proposed to be erected in the City of Washington, by contributions from the Colored Regiments of the National Army, and the. Freedmen of all the United States, in honor of Abraham Lincoln, the Great Emancipator, and in the testimony of the gratitude of four million American Citizens…”

OTHER DESIGNS CONSIDERED

After 1865 there were other national monument organizations springing up and the political struggle over the legacy of the war was turning increasingly on the definition of the rights of the freedmen. They redoubled their fund-raising efforts by appointing the distinguished black lawyer and activist Professor John Mercer Langston of Washington, D.C. to solicit contributions from African American communities. When a Springfield Illinois group’s decision to avoid any representation of emancipated figures, whether secondary or not, came to an end, the Western Sanitary Commission’s project took a surprising turn. Still lacking sufficient funds Eliot visited his friend and sculptor Thomas Ball, from Boston “In the summer of 1869, I was in Florence, Italy…I saw a group in marble which he had … executed immediately after President Lincoln’s death. When I told him what we were trying to do, … he said at once, with enthusiasm, that the group was at our service … When told of the sum actually in hand, he said it was amply sufficient.” The Commission would accept this with one change…”the representative form of a negro should be…helping to break the chain that had bound him. Photographic pictures of ARCHER ALEXANDER, a fugitive slave, were sent to him…“. Ball would be asked to straighten Archer’s right arm and make it culminate in a clenched fist. In 1873, St. Louis Newspapers would share photos of the proposed monument titled Emancipation by Sculptor Thomas Ball.

President Abraham Lincoln

On April 14, 1876, newspapers would carry the story: “The unveiling of the Lincoln statue…was a feature of today’s holiday. The colored people were out in full force. The procession was very large, including the colored troops, Knights Templars of St. Augustine, The Sons of Purity, Sons of Levi, Good Samaritans, Labor League, and other uniformed benevolent associations, accompanied by music. There was an immense assemblage at the park. The statue, covered with flags, was a great object of interest. The first contribution to the statue funds was made on the morning after the assassination of President Lincoln, by Charlotte Scott, a colored woman of Marietta, who gave five dollars. The original cost of the monument was $17,000 and other incidental expenses have all been paid by subscriptions by colored people. The last congress appropriated $3,000 for a pedestal and the statue was allowed to pass the customs house free of duty. The statue is of bronze, twelve feet high, resting up a pedestal ten feet high…..There was on the speaker’s stand the President, members of the Cabinet, Justices of the Supreme Court, foreign ministers, senators, representatives, and other persons of prominence. After prayer music by the Marine band, Hail Columbia, and reading of the Emancipation Proclamation. Prof Langston [colored] formally accepted the statue on behalf of the entire country and then called upon President Grant to unveil it. Prolonged applause greeted the words of the speaker and increased when the president stepped to the front and grasped the rope that was attached to the flag veiling the statue. Amidst deafening cheers of the multitude music, and booming of cannon, the beautiful monument stood unveiled. A poem was read and composed by Miss Cordelia Ray (colored) of New York.

Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass was then introduced amid applause and delivered an eloquent oration “I warmly congratulate you upon the highly interesting object which has caused you to assemble in such numbers and spirit as you have today. This occasion is in some respects remarkable. Wise and thoughtful men of our race, who shall come after us, and study the lesson of our history in the United States; …who shall count the links in the great chain of events by which we have reached our present position, will make a note of this occasion; they will think of it and speak of it with a sense of manly pride and complacency… Nowhere else in this great country, with its uncounted towns and cities, unlimited wealth, and immeasurable territory extending from sea to sea, could conditions be found more favorable to the success of this occasion than here. We stand today at the national center to perform something like a national act-an act which is to go into history; and we are here where every pulsation of the national heart can be heard, felt, and reciprocated… For the first time in the history of our people, and in the history of the whole American people, we join in this high worship and march conspicuously in the line of this time-honored custom. First things are always interesting, and this is one of our first things.[1] This would be the only National monument to Lincoln in Washington, D.C. until 1922, which celebrates its’ 100th Anniversary this year.

ORATION BY FREDERICK DOUGLASS DELIVERED ON THE OCCASION OF THE UNVEILING OF THE FREEDMEN’S MONUMENT, APRIL 14, 1876, Collection of Frederick Douglass materials, Anacostia Community Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution. Box 2, Folder 2, April 14, 1876

On December 8, 1880, Archer would be buried by his family in the former Deutsch Evangelical Church Cemetery, today’s St. Peters United Church of Christ [2] in St Louis. In a common lot grave, several deep, and no markers. [The cemetery has provided a location, where the family is planning to erect a marker that gives testimony to their ancestor. Archer is the great-great-great-grandfather of Muhammad Ali.] Because of one split-second decision, with an act of supreme heroism, Archer would become the “last fugitive slave” on the Emancipation Memorial. Today, Archer Alexander represents all those enslaved whose heavy chains have been broken, and by some is seen as rising – his freedom now within sight – still fixed on that moment in time of April  14th of 1865. While this monument was totally paid for by those who were enslaved it belongs to our entire Nation.


[1] ORATION BY FREDERICK DOUGLASS DELIVERED ON THE OCCASION OF THE UNVEILING OF THE FREEDMEN’S MONUMENT, APRIL 14, 1876, Collection of Frederick Douglass materials, Anacostia Community Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution. Box 2, Folder 2, April 14, 1876

[2] St. Peters United Church of Christ Burial Records, 2101 Lucas and Hunt Road, Normandy, MO 63121 http://stp-cemetery.org/

Photo from National Park Service: https://www.nps.gov/places/000/emancipation-memorial.htm


What Makes a Hero

In January of 1863, each and every black person enslaved in the United States is free due to Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. That is, except for those enslaved in slave states bordering the south, like Missouri. Saint Charles had begun way before Missouri even became a state, it was made up of slave owners from Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee. And then came the Germans. Beginning in 1830, a tidal wave of emigrants had turned the state into the very essence of what the Civil War was about – Slavery. In the center of it all, a hero was made.

On a cold winter night, Archer was visiting his wife of thirty years, Louisa. Her enslaver, James Naylor was a wealthy merchant who ran the Dardenne Post Office, where letters to families named Bates, McCluer, and Pitman arrived daily. Archer was enslaved by Richard Hickman Pitman, who lived just down the Booneslick road, past the home of Captain James Campbell. Archer overheard the area men talking about how the work was going on the railroad bridge. Any day now, with the weight of the next Northern Missouri engine bearing down and over that steep gorge filled by Peruque Creek, their mission would be accomplished. They had been stealthily working at sawing the wooden timbers. And, they had stored arms and ammunition for when the great event happened! Any day now…

If left unchecked hundreds of Union troops and vital supplies being shipped to the State’s Capitol would be lost! With a cost of several hundred lives as well! Perhaps even the stability of the state would be jeopardized with this act.  German-born Lt. Col. Arnold Krekel’s troops had built a wooden blockhouse at the bridge, where hundreds of black men and their families had established a contraband camp. As fugitives, their safety and lives depended on the Union troops’ protection. Area slave owners had begged Governor Gamble to make the troops return them. A lot was riding on this.

Archer Alexander understood the gravity of the situation and made his decision. Without a word to his wife, he took off at a run for the camp. There he told the Captain in charge that night what he had just heard. That was a moment that would change his life forever. It would not be long before it was realized that the informant was none other than Pitman’s man and an angry mob was after him. If caught he would certainly be lynched, and his only chance would be the network for freedom called the underground railroad. Making his way carefully to St. Louis, he was taken in by a Unitarian minister named William Greenleaf Eliot.

Eliot, the founder of Washington University, was a member of the Western Sanitary Commission, organized at the beginning of the war by Col. John C. Fremont, who was in charge of the Union’s Army of the West. A private benevolent organization, its purpose was to provide hospitals, nurses, and aid, to Union troops both black and white. Authorized by Lincoln to work in any camp, Eliot knew the officers well. He went straight to the Provost Marshall’s office to obtain an order for the protection of Archer. He then sent a message to Pitman, through Barton Bates who was the son of Lincoln’s Attorney General Edward Bates. In return, Pitman sent slave catchers to Eliot’s home, to attack and retrieve Archer. Eliot would once again rescue Archer, and Pitman would be thrown into the Myrtle Street Prison.

Archer would be granted freedom on September 24, 1863, by Lincoln through the Provost Marshal due to his heroic actions. Freedom, for “important services to the United State military forces”. Freedom under the provisions of the Act of Congress of July 17, 1862, and “disloyalty of master” by orders of Brig. General Strong. Freedom was this hero’s reward. Through the work once again of William G. Eliot, the Emancipation Memorial, the first and only monument to Lincoln in Washington, D.C., prior to 1922, will share both heroes.  Today, President Abraham Lincoln, “the best friend the colored people had” shares the world stage with Archer Alexander. Two men, both of whom are truly American heroes.

Free At Last

After a life of enslavement, on September 24th, 1863, Archer Alexander was free at last! Nine months earlier, the freedom seeker had made a run for freedom that had nearly cost him his life. In January, Archer was visiting his wife Louisa at Naylor’s Store, where she was enslaved, when he overheard his owner and area men talking.  James Naylor’s Mercantile was the local Post Office on Boone’s Lick Road near Dardenne Presbyterian Church and was where the Bates, McClure, Naylor, and Alexander families had established a church in 1819. Archer’s enslaver, Richard Hickman Pitman, who lived a few miles down the road, had joined the Campbell,  Zumwalt, and Heald families in organizing a Methodist Church. Many of them were slave owners that had been joined by a flood of German emigrants like the Krekel brothers who’d arrived back in the 1830s. Many Germans, like Molitor, Schone and Freymuth were Catholic, but the Germans would also bring their Lutheran and Evangelical faith with them. Germans vehemently opposed slavery and would make up a majority of Missouri’s Union troops hoping to put an end to the practice.

Archer Alexander

That cold winter night, Archer would overhear James Naylor and area men discussing their plot to overthrow the Union troops stationed at the nearby Peruque Creek Bridge, with rifles they had stored in James Campbell’s icehouse. They had sawn the timbers of the North Missouri Railroad’s wooden trestle, and if left unchecked it would certainly collapse when the next train passed. Hundreds of Union troops and other necessary supplies were being shipped westward to the State’s Capitol via the railroad daily, making it a vital link for the Union Troops. The previous fall, Lt. Col. Arnold Krekel’s troops had built a wooden blockhouse to guard the bridge. Archer would risk his life to make it to the blockhouse and the Union troops stationed there to inform them of what he had overheard. It would not be long though before it was realized that the informant was none other than Richard Pitman’s enslaved man Archer.

Fleeing for his life, Archer would certainly be shot or lynched if it were not for the network to freedom, called the Underground Railroad. People like William Greenleaf Eliot were willing to risk everything to help. The Fugitive Slave Act passed by Congress in September of 1850 required that slaves be returned to their owners. Missouri, organized in 1821 had always been a slave state. In July of 1862, Congress had passed the Second Confiscation Act pertaining to states like Missouri,  calling for court proceedings and seizure of land and property from disloyal citizens, as well as the emancipation of their slaves that came under Union protection. This act formed the legal basis for Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation of January 1, 1863, freeing all those enslaved except for border states like Missouri.

Eliot took Archer into his home and sought protection for Archer under the U.S. Confiscation Act, from the Union Army’s Provost Marshall at St. Louis.  He asked his friend Judge Barton Bates, son of Lincoln’s Attorney General Edward Bates, a neighbor of Pitman’s for help. Eliot wanted to see Archer manumitted, and the only way he could do that was to first purchase the enslaved man. He had helped emancipate others in the same manner. In reply, Pitman’s message was to send several men to recapture his property! They bludgeoned Archer senseless in front of Eliot’s children and took him to the Confederate Jail at 6th and Chestnut, to be sold south. Fortunately, Eliot was able to save Archer before that happened and Pitman was thrown into the Myrtle Street Prison instead.  

Archer’s Order of Protection was not enough apparently. Eliot took Archer upriver to Alton, Illinois, a free state, by steamboat. Back in St. Louis, court hearings would be held and depositions were taken. Bates and his brother-in-law Missouri’s Governor Hamilton Rowan Gamble would both be questioned. The entire Dardenne Township was thrown into turmoil, and Archer’s wife and children were held under strict guard by Naylor. Finally, a St. Louis newspaper announced

Archer Alexander, a negro, aged 47 years, 5 feet 8 inches high, black color, whose last master was R. Hickman Pittman of the County of St. Charles, State of Missouri, is hereby declared to be an emancipated slave and a free man by virtue of the proclamation of the President of the United States made 1st January 1863 under the provisions of the Act of Congress of July 17, 1862, and for important services to the United States military forces, and disloyalty of master.

Eliot’s admiration of Archer’s heroism, and the enslaved man’s gratitude, formed a strong bond of friendship. When President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in April of 1865, a formerly enslaved woman named Charlotte Scott would donate $5 to a fund to build a monument to their fallen hero. Thousands of the formerly enslaved and the U.S. Colored Troops would contribute to the monument’s fund held by the Western Sanitary Commission, which had done so much for the freedmen. When the monument was dedicated on the 11th Anniversary of Lincoln’s death in 1876, it would be due to the efforts of William G. Eliot, that the likeness of Archer would portray the formerly enslaved individuals, who had broken their own chains and were rising to meet their new freedom.

Emancipation Monument

Today, in Lincoln Park in Washington, D.C. the monument still stands. Archer Alexander is the great-great-great-grandfather of Muhammad Ali, who was born Cassius Clay. On September 24, 2022, the descendants of Archer Alexander will celebrate Archer Alexander’s Day of Freedom.

The Untold Story

In the fall of 2018, I first met Keith Winstead when he asked me the question “Do you know where Archer Alexander is buried?” Winstead has been researching his family history for over 30 years and had hit one of those proverbial ‘Brick Walls‘ so many genealogists face. Not because his family was black, not because the information wasn’t out there, but because the information he had found was incorrect. Not wrong because someone had whitewashed the information which was our first assumption, but because society just wasn’t ready for the truth.

William Greenleaf Eliot was not only the grandfather of poet T.S. Eliot, he had also founded the first Unitarian Church west of the Mississippi in 1834, and had also founded Eliot Seminary which became Washington University, and the Western Sanitary Commission (WSC). The WSC was a little-known and often misunderstood philanthropical non-profit that brought nurses and hospitals to thousands of Union troops, both black and white, giving the same assistance to U.S. Colored Troops as it did to its regular troops. And it helped those troops and the freedmen erect the first monument to Lincoln in Washington, D.C. in 1876. Archer is the unidentified black man rising beneath Lincoln on the Emancipation Monument in Lincoln Park, in Washington, D.C. that is controversial because his image looks too much like a slave.

Archer’s identity is first revealed to the world in a book by Eliot published in Boston in 1885, five years after Archer’s death. In the book, Eliot states that originally the story was written for his grandchildren, and not intended for publication. A friend, Jesse Benton Fremont, who was the daughter of Thomas Hart Benton who served as one of Missouri’s first U.S. Senators for over 30 years not only urged Eliot to publish the manuscript, but also “tweaked” a few of the facts, and gave it its’ title Archer Alexander: From Slavery to Freedom March 30, 1863.

Archer was actually born in 1806 in Rockbridge County, Virginia to a slave of John Alexander. In 1829, he had been brought to Missouri, in a caravan that had stopped near Louisville, where his son Wesley was left behind. Wesley’s great-great-grandson who was born Cassius Marcellus Clay now known as Muhammad Ali a cousin to Keith Winstead. None of this part of Archer’s story was known in March of 2019 when Muhammad Ali’s brother and various other Clay family members first visited St. Louis.

Research builds upon previous research. That’s why Winstead was having difficulty going further, and could only rely on modern DNA evidence. Not everything in Eliot’s book is factual, but it is actually a product of its time. Today good research relies on actual documented facts that are becoming more and more available due to the work of historians like Dr. Henry Louis Gates. Today’s readers want a juicy disclose-all book that shares the true identities, but that was not always the case. Just as the world was not ready for the actual story of Archer’s life, it was not ready for a monument with a slave that was standing in 1865, when Charlotte Scott first envisioned it. Today we can look back on the great story produced by Chad Davis from St. Louis Public Radio and NPR, and the first visit of Keith Winstead and his family where A Louisville Family Learns About their St. Louis Ties to a Slave that Saved Lives. Learn about their visit at https://news.stlpublicradio.org/arts/2019-03-19/a-louisville-family-learns-about-their-ties-to-a-st-louis-slave-who-saved-lives#stream/0 where you can read or listen any time.

Just as we have come a long way in our recent research of Archer’s life, we have also come a long way in understanding the full story of the monument, thanks to fellow researchers, historians, and writers. Archer was a hero in his own right, an unknown American hero, whose untold story is difficult to share yet needs to be told. Don’t you think the time is right? For more about Archer visit https://archeralexander.wordpress.com/ online anytime.

Encyclopedia Virginia

Archer Alexander

A recent entry on the Virginia Humanities’ Website Encyclopedia Virginia shares the story of Archer Alexander. The contributor is Dorris Keeven-Franke who is an award-winning author of books on Missouri history whose forthcoming book Archer Alexander – The Untold Story of an American Hero shares the story of the unidentified enslaved man rising before President Abraham Lincoln on the Emancipation Monument.

ENTRY

Archer Alexander (d. December 8, 1880)

SUMMARY

Archer Alexander was a formerly enslaved man who served as the model for the Emancipation Monument dedicated on the eleventh anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. Alexander was born enslaved in Rockbridge County in the early nineteenth century. In 1829, Alexander’s enslaver, James Alexander, brought him to Missouri, where Alexander worked as an enslaved laborer, eventually being sold to members of the Pitman family… 

Encyclopedia Virginia https://encyclopediavirginia.org/entries/archer-alexander-d-december-8-1880/

To read the entire entry click here https://encyclopediavirginia.org/entries/archer-alexander-d-december-8-1880/

Encyclopedia Virginias mission is to provide a free, reliable, multimedia resource that tells the inclusive story of Virginia for students, teachers, and communities who seek to understand how the past informs the present and the future. Encyclopedia Virginia (EV) is a reliable and user-friendly resource on the history and culture of Virginia. Encyclopedia Virginia anthologizes the best and most current scholarship that exists on a given topic. A project of Virginia Humanities in partnership with the Library of VirginiaEV publishes topical and biographical entries written by scholars, edited to be accessible to a general audience, and vigorously fact-checked. Content creation is a work in progress, with new entries published regularly. Entries are accompanied by primary documents and media objects, including images, audio and visual clips, and virtual tours of historic sites. Many of our media objects are unavailable elsewhere and are published courtesy of partnerships with museums and cultural institutions in Virginia, the United States, and Great Britain.

Christmas 1862

The war had begun last year. For Archer Alexander in Dardenne Prairie, news from St. Louis of Union soldiers marching into the rebels’ camp excited everyone! A General named Lyons had taken over a Camp named “Jackson” so-called for the Governor and people had been shot and killed. The war had begun. People would choose sides, change sides, and lie about whose side they were on. Things had gotten even worse this past year. Word was that things were changing…

Close to home here many things had changed. In March, the Dardenne Presbyterian Church had burned. Some said Union Soldiers had done it. Some said the Rebels did it. No one knew for sure, but everyone blamed everyone. The families were meeting in the member’s homes now. Last fall the Union soldiers had built two guardhouses, big strange-looking lookout points where the railroad crossed the Peruque. If one did manage to “get away” you could always count on the soldiers there to help you and your family. They would feed you and hide you. Word was that things were changing…

Missouri Home Guards (Union) at the Peruque Creek Bridge on the North Missouri Railroad.

Christmas was a time when some Masters were generous in spirit. Some had made their “agreements” for the new year which might put you with a new Master too. Sometimes it was close, sometimes it was far away, away from your family. If you had a pass to visit family… many took advantage and used it to get a two-day head start for freedom. Word was that things were changing…

Word had passed in September that President Lincoln made a great speech at a far-away place called Gettysburg and that he would make all slaves free at the beginning of the year. It was called the Emancipation Proclamation. Word was that things were changing…Freedom was coming!

But not for Archer or Louisa. Another year had passed. Pitman gave him a pass to go and visit her and the girls over at Naylor’s. The Proclamation didn’t apply here. While word was that things were changing… not here in Missouri.

At Christmas of 1862, America was at war with itself. President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation would go into effect on January 1st, 1863 making hundreds of thousands of enslaved people free at last. Yet in four states, Missouri being one, which had stayed with the Union, the proclamation would not apply. There the tenuous balance between owners and abolitionists, neighbor versus neighbor, and even brother against brother, was delicate. And Lincoln knew that the delicate balance could easily tip and everything would be lost. For hundreds of thousands still enslaved in Missouri… nothing would change. In less than two years though, hundreds of thousands of men, both black and white, would have paid the price with their lives to preserve these changes and put an end to slavery and ensure freedom for all.

President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation was the new pathway to freedom beginning January 1st, 1863. But not for Archer Alexander and his wife Louisa.

A son named James

This is the story of two men named James Alexander, one white, one black. On October 8, 1829, a caravan of four families from Virginia arrived in Dardenne, Missouri, bringing with them their enslaved. James Alexander, son of John, was one of them. Of those fifty people in the caravan, twenty-six of them were enslaved. Among them was 23-year-old Archer Alexander, and his wife Louisa, and two of their children. A cholera epidemic would soon be raging across the countryside, indiscriminate of color or culture, and Archer’s owner James Alexander died in 1835. His will strictly stated that his property, both his slaves and his land, was NOT to be sold, appointing his friend William Campbell as executor. The revenue was to be used entirely for the care of his four orphaned children, John, William, Agnes Jane, and Sarah Elizabeth.

By that time, Archer’s son, also named James had been born. His life would be very different. His parents were leased to area families, and sometimes he and his siblings were sent away. By 1844, they were assessed as the property that would be disbursed among the four heirs, and fourteen-year-old James was valued at $200. At some point he was sold to a farmer in Callaway County, where he would meet Harriet. By 1857, James and Harriet would “jump the broom” and they would be married. They would have at least nine children together, William, David, John, Bell, George, Ellen, Mary, Kate and little Frederick. The oldest would all be born in Callaway County, but George, Ellen, Mary, Kate, and Frederick would all be born in St. Charles County.

In 1863, Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation would free those still enslaved in all states, except those border states that had not seceded, like Missouri. It did allow for U.S. Troops to be formed here and to fight in the Civil War. If a black man like James wanted to join, he had some choices to make. If a slave was allowed to join, the owner could claim that they had given permission, and the owner received $300 from the U.S. government for that slave. James’ owner allowed him to join the 18th Regiment of the Union’s U.S. Colored Troops in September of 1864. Many owners would forbid their slaves to leave, but the men would runoff. The owner would try to claim that they had allowed, but the slave would insist, and the owner would be turned down. Then those that simply ran off, and joined the Union troops, using another name. In January of 1865, James received word from home and took off for Missouri without permission. He was marked as a deserter, taking with him, one rifle valued at $22.65. January 11, 1865, Missouri’s Constitutional Convention had declared all of Missouri’s slaves to be emancipated.

James and Harriet would make their home in the town of St. Charles following the war. His mother, Louisa, had died at her owner Jim Naylor’s home in Dardenne. But by 1880, Harriet and James had moved to Wentzville and live on Railroad (today’s Allen) Street. The family were members of the Grant Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church, and their younger children would attend the black school nearby. By 1890, James would claim and receive U.S. Union Veterans benefit, for an injured leg that had left him disabled and unable to work. Harriet would die in 1902. James would remarry twice more, first to a Clara, who had also been born enslaved and who died in 1916 and would be buried at Grant Chapel A.M.E. Cemetery behind the Church. James would marry once more, to Caroline, a widow of Henry Callaway, both of who had been born enslaved and who would die of old age in 1920. On the 21st of March 1929, Archer Alexander’s son James Alexander would pass away, and after a funeral at the Pitman funeral home, also be buried at the Grant Chapel A.M.E. in Wentzville.  James Alexander’s father, Archer Alexander is the face of freedom, on the Emancipation Monument in Lincoln Park in Washington, D.C. This monument was dedicated and paid for by the U.S. Colored Troops and the former enslaved in 1876 and still stands today. If you are a descendant of Archer’s son James please contact us at https://archeralexander.wordpress.com/contact/

1905 Atlas of St. Charles County from the Library of Congress, Map of Wentzville

Taking another look at the Emancipation Monument

On November 3, 2021, an excellent new video was released that began….”Where you stand depends on what you see”…as protestors chanted “Do you not hear us?” in the background. As Thoreau stated, “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” The video reminds us that “behind everything you see, is something you don’t see”.

It shares the history of the monument, explaining the story of Charlotte Scott, who called President Abraham “a great friend” and who raised the call for an enduring monument to Lincoln from the colored people. As a black man named Joseph T. Wilson who extensively wrote and promoted the fundraising for the monument states “something tangible and visible”.  All of this at a time, when as the video also states women, native Americans or blacks had “little agency”.

After sharing the history and the dedication proceedings the video also informs us of the meanings and symbolism of the imagery and the “action” that the monument reveals. It begins by taking a closer look at the formerly enslaved black man named Archer Alexander who as Langston says he sees as rising with his face “lighting with joy! Facing the manhood of freedom.” Going on to compare everything from the clothes or lack thereof to the height differences between Alexander and Lincoln, the video does an excellent job of “Taking another look at the Emancipation Monument”.

The video shares the story of a monument that many think they know the story of, yet makes one stop, think and discover and is well documented. Written by Marcia E. Cole and Jill Giroir, video production by Jill Giroir, with voiceovers by Marcia E. Cole and Eric Garvanne, you can find the video on their website Emancipation Monument or https://www.emancipationmonument.org/ or on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0IRi0J8adNU anytime.

From Taking Another Look
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aPmOmdadEIQ

Previous video about the Emancipation Monument

From Virginia to Missouri

First Entry – The Journey begins 8.20.29

I started from Lexington, Virginia on a journey to the state of Missouri. My own object in going to that remote section of the Union was to seek a place where I might obtain an honest livelihood by the practice of law. I travel in company with four families containing about fifty individuals, white and black. The first family is that of Dr. McCluer, his wife (my sister) and five children from six months to thirteen years old and fourteen negro servants. Two young men, McNutt and Cummings, and myself form a part of the traveling family of Dr. McCluer. Dr. McCluer leaves a lucrative practice and proposes settling himself in St. Charles County Missouri on a fine farm which he has purchased about 36 miles from St. Louis. The second family is that of James H. Alexander, who married a sister of Dr. McCluer, with five children and seven negro slaves. Intends farming in Missouri. Third family, James Wilson, a young man who is to be married this night to a pretty young girl and start off in four days to live one thousand miles from her parents. He has four or five negroes. Fourth family, Jacob Icenhoward, an honest, poor, industrious Dutchman with several children and a very aged father in law whom he is taking at great trouble to Missouri, to keep him from becoming a county charge. He has labored his life time here and made nothing more than a subsistence and has determined to go to a country where the substantial comforts of life are more abundant.

Our caravan when assembled will consist of four wagons, two carryalls, one Barouche and several horses, cows.and fifty people. Two of Dr. McCluer’s children are in Charleston, Kenahwa, with their Uncle Calhoun. Our caravan will not start until the 25th of August. But I, with my sister and nurse will proceed forthwith in the Barouche to Charleston, Kenawha, where we will await the arrival of the caravan. This evening we left Lexington, our native town; possibly never to see it again.

I bid adieu to numerous friends and acquaintances, all of whom professes to wish me well. Many of them sincerely, some of them from the bottom of their hearts, some deceitfully and others with indifference. I parted from many whom I respected and esteem highly. I left a numerous tribe of relatives and many old friends. Many requested me to write to them and give them an account of the country and numbers intimated a hope of coming to Missouri in a few years. We came three miles to the residence of my aged father and mother with whom we stay all night, perhaps for the last time. Tomorrow morning we will start in our barouche for Warm Springs.

This journal of a journey from Lexington, in Rockbridge County in Virginia to St. Charles County Missouri was written between August through October, 1829, includes the enslaved Archer Alexander. Written by William Massilon Campbell (1805-1849) the son of Samuel LeGrand Campbell (1765-1840) , the second President of Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia and his wife Agnes Reid Alexander (1772-1846). It can be found in the Leyburn Library, Special Collections and Archives, located at the Washington and Lee University, in Lexington, Virginia. A very special thanks goes to Lisa S. McCown, Senior Assistant and all of the staff there. . This journal is presented here with the spellings as presented by the writer in 1829. All photos by Dorris Keeven-Franke with a special thanks to Donna LaBrayer Sandegren.

And so begins the journal of William Massilon Campbell from Lexington, Virginia to Dardenne Township in St. Charles County Missouri. Begun in August of 1829, the group of over fifty travelers would have twenty-five enslaved individuals, including Archer Alexander, between three families, the Alexanders, McClures, and Wilsons . Enslaved there were six boys under the age of ten, three young males between ten and twenty-three, two young men between twenty-four and thirty-six, and one older man between thirty-six and fifty-four. Also there were four little girls under the age of ten, seven young women of child-bearing age between ten and twenty-three, two older women still of child bearing age between twenty-four and thirty-six, and one older woman also between the age of thirty-six and fifty-four. Among these was Archer’s newborn son Wesley, and his mother, the black nurse for the McClure’s newborn baby Sally McClure.

Today

This portion of the life of Archer Alexander could not be told were it not for the journal of William Massilon Campbell. Our purpose here though, is to share the story of these people, both white and black, who made this trek of over 800 miles, and not only the mountains and the plains that they crossed, but the rivers they followed. In 1829, they would all walk the same pathway, climb the same hillsides, and follow the same rivers. The women and children would ride in the wagons, and the men and many of the enslaved would follow on foot. Join us as we follow their journey, and share photos taken today in July of 2019, to gain a greater understanding of their journey.

Keith Winstead

Rock Castle, the home of Samuel LeGrand Campbell and his wife Sally Alexander, the parents of William Massilon Campbell is still standing, as seen in this photo (left) with Keith Alexander, a descendant of Archer Alexander. Located on the banks of Whistle Creek, opposite the location of the Old Monmouth Presbyterian Church and the Old Monmouth Cemetery. Samuel was a Presbyterian elder, a physician and a President of Washington and Lee University.

Rockbridge County Historical Society
Lexington, Virginia

The Rockbridge County Historical Society (right) is located in the Campbell House c. 1845 and has an excellent and helpful staff. The Timber Ridge Presbyterian Church (below) is where both the Alexander and McClure family were members and were buried. This church was begun by the father of Sam Houston. The Alexander family still live nearby at Cherry Grove, (below) which was the former home of James McDowell, grandfather of Jessie Benton Fremont, and where she spent much of her time growing up.

Timber Ridge Presbyterian Church
“Cherry Grove” home of James McDowell, Grandfather of Jessie Benton Fremont
Tom Alexander, a descendant of John Alexander of Rockbridge Virginia, with Keith Winstead, a descendant of Archer Alexander. Today, Cherry Grove is owned by the Alexander family and is a large dairy farm.

Continue the journey…https://archeralexander.wordpress.com/2019/07/23/entry-2-from-virginia-to-missouri/

EMANCIPATION

Archer Alexander was born enslaved in Virginia, and in 1863 was the property of Richard Pitman, a slaveowner in Saint Charles County Missouri. Said to be the last fugitive slave, he had bravely risked his life to break his chains and gain his freedom. After overhearing a plot by area men who were Confederates sympathizers, Alexander, also known as Archey, informed the nearby Union troops of the events that were about to happen. Archey, was chased, shot, attacked and imprisoned in the St. Louis prison for his actions. Managing to survive he became “an emancipated slave by virtue of the Proclamation of the President of the United States made 1st January 1863, under the provisions of the Act of Congress of July 17, 1862 and for important services to the United States Military forces and for disloyalty of master” as announced in a St. Louis newspaper in September of 1863.

It would be nearly two more years until all of the enslaved people of this country would also be emancipated. Juneteenth is now a National holiday that acknowledges the emancipation of all of our country’s enslaved people. President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation was an Executive Order signed on September 22, 1862, which took effect on January 1st, 1863. With it Lincoln would declare that all enslaved persons in the Confederate States of America in rebellion and not in Union hands were free! Missouri was one of four states with laws abiding slavery that were not included by Lincoln’s Proclamation and wouldn’t emancipate their enslaved until a Constitutional Amendment was signed on January 11, 1865.

It would not be until June 19, 1865 that those enslaved in Texas would even learn of Lincoln’s “Proclamation”. When Governor Granger read aloud the contents of “General Order No. 3”, announcing “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.

It would not be until December 6, 1865 that the 13th Amendment would be ratified by Congress. On June 19, 1866 those formerly enslaved in Texas would be our Nation’s first to celebrate Lincoln’s proclamation. Ten years later, in 1876, with the help of the Western Sanitary Commission in St. Louis, Missouri, a memorial dedicated to President Lincoln, emblazoned with the word Emancipation, known as the Emancipation Monument, that was totally funded by the formerly enslaved in America would recall that moment. There, in Lincoln Park in Washington, D.C. Archer can be seen breaking his own chains, and rising before the man who issued that proclamation, President Abraham Lincoln. Over 600,000 heroic lives, both black and white, would be lost before bringing this country to that moment, a moment that should never to be forgotten.

The Fever

It started in New Orleans and crept upriver to St. Louis. Then spilled out along the Missouri River until it flowed up the Dardenne. In 1833, Cholera fever took Nancy Alexander, who left behind four small children, two girls and two boys, between the ages of five and eleven. The following spring her big brother Robert McCluer, who had been the first doctor on the Dardenne Creek prairie, would also pass away from the fever. He had come from Lexington, Virginia with his brother-law William Campbell in 1829, along with the Alexanders, Wilsons and Icenhowers. McCluer’s widow, Sophie, who was Campbell’s sister would write their mother…

My dear mother, My circumstances are at present so distressing that I hardly know how to write you. God, in His providence, has seen fit to take from me my dear husband and my poor little Mo. They both died of fever, the Doctor lay seven days, and Mo, twenty-four days. The Doctor died last Monday morning at two o’clock, Mo this morning at daylight. This has been sad beyond all description…” They would each be buried in the Dardenne Presbyterian Church burying ground, land that had been given to the church by Andrew and Margaret Zumwalt back in 1829.

The following year, Sophie’s brother-in-law James Alexander would join his wife and her brother, and leave behind four orphaned children, John, William, Agnes Jane and Sarah Elizabeth. His will would state “that my farm be rented out by my executors, and that my negroes be hired out from year to year to such persons as my executors shall think prudent to entrust them to the care of, and that the profits of my farm, and the hire of the slaves be used by my Executors in the support and education of my children, and it is my desire that the slaves be not removed out of this state on any consideration unless they desire it themselves.”

Archer had been enslaved property of the Alexander family his entire life. His wife Louisa, had been given to Nancy when her father John McCluer had passed. They would not be removed from Missouri. The four orphaned Alexander children would be taken back to Lexington, Virginia in Rockbridge County. From that point forward the enslaved people would be leased out, year to year, January 1 till December 31st, as property of the estate. The funds from their labor would be sent to the children’s guardian, James Alexander’s brother-in-law in Lexington, Virginia; for the care, clothing and schoolbooks of those children.

Archer Alexander is the former enslaved man, that has broken his own shackles and is seen rising with President Abraham Lincoln, on the Emancipation Monument, in Lincoln Park in Washington, D.C. The monument was paid for and dedicated in 1876 by former enslaved people and U.S. Colored Troops.

Community

A community is knitted together by many things, sometimes something as simple as a road. In 1832 the “Booneslick” road threaded its’ way westward from old Saint Charles to the old salt lick owned by James Morrison and Daniel Boone’s sons Nathan and Daniel Morgan in Howard County. As it winds its way past the village named Cottleville it rises up and crosses a beautiful prairie named Dardenne, after the stream that flows through that area. Smaller streams with names like Hickory Creek branch off from the Dardenne making it a great place to settle.

Along the Dardenne, several prominent families from Virginia, and then Kentucky would establish themselves. First were the Zumwalts, Audrains and the Keithleys. Closer to the Dardenne were the Pitmans, Bates, McCluers, Campbells, and the Alexanders. Naylor would establish a Post Office. Gill would establish a mill. Watson was the minister at the Presbyterian church, where many of the area families belonged. Farms were large and often hundreds of acres. These families had brought their enslaved. Missouri was a slave state that the great orator Henry Clay had compromised with over 10,000 enslaved people when it reached statehood.

There was the home of James Alexander on the north side of ‘the road’ along what was then called Hickory Creek. Alexander owned Archer, his wife Louisa, and her sister Mary. Over at the McCluer’s place was Louisa’s brother Sam. Their role in this communtiy was to cook, and care for the children. Men like Sam would work the fields, while Archer’s skills were carpentry and building. All necessary and essential skills needed by any community.

Archer Alexander is the former enslaved man rising beneath President Lincoln on the Emancipation Memorial in Washington, D.C.. Hickory Creek is today named Archer Alexander Creek as it crosses the Boone’s Lick Road (Today’s Mo State Hwy N) in St. Charles County Missouri.

Sunday visits

The Dardenne Presbyterian Church was begun in 1819, by families who had come from Ireland to Virginia prior to the Revolutionary War. In 1829, the McCluer, Wilson, Alexander and Icenhower families settled there and joined the church.

In 1831, Archer Alexander, was an enslaved person who was the property of James Alexander in Dardenne Prairie. Because his owner had no need for his services, he was sent to nearby St. Louis to work in the brickyards. He was generating income for his owner.

Archer’s wife was Louisa, property of Nancy McCluer, James Alexander’s wife. James and Nancy Alexander lived together with their four children in their cabin which was on the Boone’s Lick Road. Louisa was a nurse to the Alexander children, and mother to her own. On Sundays, Archer had a pass to leave the brickyards and visit his family on Dardenne Prairie.

Missouri

In 1829, a young enslaved man named Archer Alexander was brought to Missouri by his owner. His father had been sold south for being too uppity, and his mother was left behind in Virginia. Property of the Alexander family, there were twenty-five other enslaved persons, who were owned by the McCluer, Alexander, and Wilson families. They settled on land along the Dardenne Creek and the Boone’s Lick Road. Today this where Missouri’s State Hwy K crosses Missouri’s State Hwy N.

Archer Alexander is the ‘face of freedom’ on the Emancipation Monument, dedicated as the Freedom Memorial, a National Monument which is located directly east of the United States Capitol Building in Lincoln Park. The monument was paid for and placed there by formerly enslaved African American people as a memorial to President Abraham Lincoln in appreciation for their freedom. Emblazoned with the word Emancipation, Archer Alexander has broken his own shackles and is rising next Lincoln.

Muhammad Ali’s Ancestor was once in St. Louis Slave Pen

In March of 1863, a fugitive slave named Archer Alexander, perhaps the last fugitive slave in St. Louis, had fled a lynch mob in Saint Charles County after exposing his owner’s sabotage of the local railroad bridge. Local Confederates had sawn the timbers, and were waiting for the next train to pass on this vital link for the Union Army.  Using the underground railroad, he fled to St. Louis and had been taken in by St. Louis’ Unitarian minister, William Greenleaf Eliot,  founder of Washington University. Eliot had attempted to purchase Alexander from his owner Richard Pitman, in order to emancipate him, using Judge Barton Bates as an intermediary. Pitman’s reply was to send two slave catchers to Eliot’s home, and in front of Eliot’s children and their nanny, viciously beat Alexander senseless and take him to the slave pen where he was to be sold. Eliot would let the local authorities know that the temporary Order of Protection that he had obtained for the enslaved man, had not been obeyed. The Provost Marshall would send officers to retrieve Alexander and return him to the care of Eliot.

Archer Alexander had been born in 1806, in Rockbridge County Virginia, had been taken west to Missouri in 1829, and became the slave that would join President Abraham Lincoln on the Emancipation Monument in Washington D.C.’s Lincoln Park. He is buried in St. Peters United Church of Christ Cemetery on Lucas & Hunt in an unmarked grave.  In 2019, Muhammad Ali’s brother, and his cousin Keith Winstead would visit St. Louis to learn their family history from writer and historian Dorris Keeven-Franke. See https://news.stlpublicradio.org/arts/2019-03-19/a-louisville-family-learns-about-their-ties-to-a-st-louis-slave-who-saved-lives#stream/0

Dorris Keeven-Franke is an award-winning writer, public historian, educator, and professional genealogist. A lifelong resident of Missouri, she resides in Saint Charles County and writes about the history of Missouri, its’ German American immigrants and African Americans. Her forthcoming book is the biography of Archer Alexander (see https://archeralexander.wordpress.com/) being written with the Alexander family.

Dorris Keeven-Franke and Keith Winstead at the Emancipation Monument in Washington, D.C.

The Emancipation Monument

I warmly congratulate you upon the highly interesting object which has caused you to assemble in such numbers and spirit as you have today. This occasion is in some respects remarkable…Wise and thoughtful men of our race, who shall come after us…will make a note of this occasion, they will think of it. And speak of it. With a sense of manly pride and complacency…Few facts could better illustrate the vast and wonderful change which has taken place in our condition as a people than the fact of our assembling here for the purpose we have today. An act which is to go into history.” Frederick Douglass at the dedication of “Freedom’s Memorial” also known as the Emancipation Monument in Washington, D.C. on the eleventh anniversary of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.

When the formerly enslaved Charlotte Scott heard the news of President Lincoln’s death, she was horrified and took the first five dollars in money she had earned as a free woman, and gave them to her former master Mr. William P. Rucker.  She asked him “to make a monument to Massa Lincoln, the best friend the colored people ever had”. Rucker would take those funds to Gen. T.H.C. Smith, and he would make sure that they were given to Mr. James Yeatman, Head of the Western Sanitary Commission, of whom he asked “Would it not be well to take up this suggestion and make it known to the freedmen?”

And with that the Western Sanitary Commission, a non-governmental non-profit, organized at the beginning of the Civil War in 1861, solely to assist the Union Army, would work to see Charlotte Scott’s dream happen. Organized for the Union troops, both black and white, the WSC worked with the Union Army’s U.S. Colored Troops, contraband camps, fugitive slaves and the Freedmans Bureau. Yeatman would put the Commission’s William G. Eliot at the helm of the project. Fundraising efforts were known throughout the country and all of the funds came from everyone from formerly enslaved individuals to the Union Army’s United States Colored Troops. The entire project was “with funds contributed solely by emancipated citizens declared free by his proclamation”.These funds were given in grateful memory of Abraham Lincoln.” This President had worked to keep our country united and see that its’ Declaration of Independence which had proclaimed “all men are created equal” and endowed with “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” was upheld and that all slaves were declared free and slavery was ended. This man had given his life because of his work to emancipate all blacks.

By 1866 Gen. J. W. Davidson’s troops had helped raise $12,150, of the $16,242.  (Today that would be equal to over $385,000). In 1869, Eliot would visit his friend Thomas Ball’s studio and share how the funds were coming entirely from the formerly enslaved for this memorial and that it was to be “their monument.” Ball quickly agreed that the amount of funds already collected were sufficient. The WSC asked Ball to make changes  because it was felt that the monument was “too passive”. The original plan had called for a black man kneeling wearing a soldier’s cap before Lincoln. The cap was removed and the slave was to be seen rising, having broken his own chains and taking an active part in gaining his freedom. That slave that is immortalized and represents those formerly enslaved is Archer Alexander. William Greenleaf Eliot, was a Unitarian minister who had founded Washington University in St. Louis was his benefactor. In 1863, Eliot had seen that Archer received his freedom, calling him “the last fugitive slave.” “In the Capitol grounds at Washington, DC there is a bronze group known as Freedoms Memorial. It represents President Lincoln in the act of emancipating a negro slave, who kneels at his feet to receive his benediction, but whose hand has grasped the chain as if in the act of breaking it, indicating the historical fact that the slaves took active part in their own deliverance.” William Greenleaf Eliot, From Slavery to Freedom – Archer Alexander.

The Emancipation Monument "Freedom's Memorial" was paid for entirely by funds from the formerly enslaved. It sits in Lincoln Park in Washington, D.C. today. It was dedicated by Frederick Douglass on April 14, 1876.
The Emancipation Monument “Freedom’s Memorial” was paid for entirely by funds from the formerly enslaved. It sits in Lincoln Park in Washington, D.C. today. It was dedicated by Frederick Douglass on April 14, 1876 as a memorial to President Abraham Lincoln.

October 8, 1829 – the final entry

The final entry of William M. Campbell’s journal* simply reads…

Reached home*

Missouri

When Archer arrived in Dardenne Prairie in Saint Charles County on October 8th in 1829, he was 23 years old. Born in 1806, his parents Aleck and Chloe were the property of the Alexander family. He was owned by James Alexander of Rockbridge County, near Lexington, in Virginia. His wife Louisa, born as property of the McCluer family, was part of the dowry of James’ wife Nancy. Together Archer and Louisa would have ten children, Ralph, Nellie, Wesley, Eliza, Mary Ann, Archer, Jim, Aleck, Lucinda, and John. By 1835 their owners James and his wife Nancy had succumbed to the cholera epidemic. James Alexander’s final Will expressly demands that absolutely none of his slaves are to be sold, but to be rented out for the support and to pay for the education of his four small remaining children that were now orphans. The Alexander children, John, William, Agnes and Sarah would return to Rockbridge County Virginia, where they were raised by their relatives Alexander B. and Elizabeth (Alexander) Stuart. The orphans’ property, including Archer and Louisa, would be under the control of the Estate’s Executor and Administrator, William Campbell, the author of this journal. James’ youngest son William would return to Missouri when he was grown, sell all of his property including his slaves, and become a law partner with his cousin William Campbell.

The Boone’s Lick Road traverses the counties of St. Charles, Warren, Montgomery, Callaway, Boone and Howard in Missouri. Established by 1820 it was the route used by many of Missouri’s early settlers.**

The Alexander, Campbell and McCluer family were all cousins and had purchased their property in Dardenne Prairie, along the Boone’s Lick road prior to their arrival in 1829. At first log cabins would serve as shelter for both the black and white families. But as the families prospered, and their land ownership grew, so did their residence. In 1835, work continued on a house, that William Campbell would be the first to reside in. Under the direction of two stonemasons, Archer and the blacks would erect a beautiful home reminiscent of the family residence in Ireland. After the stone house was completed in 1836, the log buildings would become the dwellings of Archer and the other enslaved people.

Archer, who had worked in the brickyards of St. Louis prior to his owner James Alexander’s  death, had been brought by William Campbell to Dardenne Prairie to be in charge of the other enslaved property. An excellent carpenter, Archer’s skills would be useful in building not only this house, but several other local residences, including that of his future owners, the Pitman family. Campbell, who was editor of a St. Charles County newspaper, and had been elected to serve in Missouri’s House of Representatives, turned to Archer because he had proved himself trustworthy in the position of manager. This relationship also helped establish Archer Alexander among the other owners in the neighborhood, including the Bates and Naylor families, as someone they could depend upon.

The Campbell house on the Boone’s Lick Road in St. Charles County in Missouri was built by slaves in 1836.

THE CIVIL WAR

The Union Army built this blockhouse at the Peruque Creek Railroad Bridge in 1862

By 1863, this area was a mixture of not only Confederate sympathizers from the south, but German immigrants who had begun arriving in the 1830s. Germans were pro Union, and strong abolitionists, and sympathetic to the plight of Archer and other blacks. In February, Archer had overheard some of the area’s Confederate men discussing how they had undermined the local railroad bridge.  The men who were southern sympathizers, had stored guns and ammunition in the Campbell icehouse for an attack when the bridge, which was a vital link for the Union Army, collapsed. Archer would risk his life to warn the Union troops stationed at the bridge five miles away. Almost immediately suspicion fell upon Archer as being the informer, and a lynch mob set out after him.

Archer Alexander

Archer, availed himself of the area’s established underground railroad to make his way to St. Louis, where he would be taken in by a Unitarian minister who was also a member of the Western Sanitary Commission, William Greenleaf Eliot. Eliot would secure an Order of Protection from the local Provost Marshall. Archer’s bravery would secure him a place in Eliot’s home, and on the Emancipation Monument with President Abraham Lincoln in Washington, D.C.. Archer would die December 8, 1880 and was buried near his second wife Julia, in the St. Peter’s German Evangelical Cemetery, in a common lot grave. Eliot would write the story of Archer’s life From Slavery to Freedom, in 1885, using pseudonyms for many of the characters.

Author Dorris Keeven-Franke and Archer Alexander’s descendant Keith Winstead.

*This is the journal of William Campbell (1805-1849) leading four families, the Alexander, McCluer, Wilson and Icenhauer families with their 25 slaves, from Lexington, in Rockbridge County, Virginia to St. Charles County Missouri, written in 1829. This journal is located in the collections of the Leyburn Library, Special Collections and Archives, located at the Washington and Lee University, in Lexington, Virginia, and for which we are deeply indebted to Lisa McCown. Editor is Dorris Keeven-Franke. This is the final entry in William Campbell’s journal and is written on Thursday, October 8, 1829. If you wish to read the entire journal from the beginning, it begins with the post 20 August 1829 https://archeralexander.wordpress.com/2020/08/20/20-august-1829-first-entry/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aPmOmdadEIQ&feature=youtu.be

Learn the Hidden History of the Emancipation Monument from historians, researchers and authors. Marcia E. Cole tells the story of the former slave, Charlotte Scott, who conceived the idea of a memorial to President Lincoln paid for solely by former slaves and Black soldiers. Candace O’Connor explains the important work of the often overlooked Rev. William Greenleaf Eliot and the Western Sanitary Commission. Dorris Keeven-Franke shares details of the real-life Archer Alexander portrayed rising in the monument alongside President Lincoln. Carl Adams tells a little known story revealing Lincoln’s early thoughts and actions on slavery. And Jonathan White explores the powerful oratory delivered at the monument’s dedication by Frederick Douglass and a recently discovered Douglass letter shedding light on his views on the monument. The Emancipation Monument, also known as Freedom’s Memorial or the Lincoln Statue was dedicated in Washington, D.C. on April 14, 1876. It was paid for solely by donations from emancipated citizens and Black Union soldiers. Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton has introduced legislation requiring the National Park Service to remove the statue from its place in Lincoln Park and place it indoors in a museum. This educational video introduces the remarkable people who were part of this monument’s creation and hopes to convince viewers of the need to keep the Emancipation Monument standing, as it has for 144 years, as a testament to those who turned five dollars and a dream into a reality.

** Boone’s Lick Road Association

1 & 2 October 1829 – Thirty-sixth and Thirty-seventh entry

The Survey of U.S. Army Uniforms, Weapons and Accoutrements by David Cole 2007

William Campbell’s journal of his move to Missouri, written in 1829, tells us the story of fifty people both black and white. They left Rockbridge County, Virginia on August 20th, and travelled across today’s West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois, for a trip of over seven-hundred miles. They are still one-hundred miles from their destination on this day.

With Campbell are the Alexander, McCluer, Wilson and Icenhauer families, their children, and their enslaved… including Archer Alexander. Many of them had left their families behind. William Campbell’s family had served in the Revolutionary War fifty years earlier. His grandfather Charles Campbell, grandson of Robert, who with his brothers Dougal and John, all sons of of Duncan, removed from Scotland (where Duncan Campbell died) to Ireland in 1700, and all later removed to Pennsylvania in 1730, then to Virginia Commonwealth in 1740. All Presbyterian ministers, Charles Campbell’s son Samuel L. Campbell, M.D. who is William Campbell’s father, was a trustee and President of Washington College, (now Washington and Lee University) who married Sally Reid Alexander, whose father was also a slave owner in Rockbridge County, Virginia. Her father, was the Rev. William Parks Alexander, a Presbyterian Minister that also served in the Revolutionary War. Sally had also been born in Rockbridge County, and was the granddaughter of Archibald Alexander. The Alexander’s family’s slave called Aleck, was said to have come from Africa, or so the family story said. His son was called Archey, for Archer, by the Alexander family.

The Survey of U.S. Army Uniforms, Weapons and Accoutrements by David Cole 2007

1st of October 1829 – Entered Marion County. Land fine, roads excellent. Came through Salem the county town of Marion. It consists of a court house, two taverns, a grocery and horse mill. Saw a glorious sight, the Militia officers of Marion training. This day saw five deer running on the prairie.*

2nd of October 1829 Encamped three miles in Grand Prairie, at a skirt of wood projecting into the prairie.*

The enslaved person called Archey, was named for William Campbell’s maternal grandfather, Archibald Alexander, who was also an ancestor of the Alexander and McCluer families also in the caravan. All Presbyterian elders, and farmers in Virginia, they had served in the Revolutionary War and all owned slaves. Archer, who was born in 1806, also had a son named Archer Alexander who may have born as early as 1828. Archer’s father Aleck, was said to have been born in Africa, and brought to America. He had heard the Declaration of Independence read many times, by his owner’s sons and grandsons who had fought in the War with Great Britain. He knew the words well, as he had often witnessed little boys pretending at soldier, who marched and drilled as their ancestors had before them. Aleck would share often, how all men are created equal, which created a stir within the neighborhood. When Archer was still young, his father Aleck had been sold, for being too “uppity” a term used to describe trouble makers. This must have made quite an impact on the young man. His grandparents were never known. He was left behind with only his mother. When the caravan departed on August 20, his last memory was of her standing on her porch. Archer would never see his mother again.

This has been the road to Missouri for Archer Alexander as well as William Campbell. But the road to his desired freedom for Archer, would not be opened for another thirty years, on the Dardenne Prairie. This caravan is over 100 miles from there. They will pass through the city of St. Louis, founded in 1764, and then the city of St. Charles, Missouri, founded in 1769. They will begin the final leg of their journey on what was known as the Boone’s Lick Road and reach home on October 8, 1829.

Missouri had petitioned for Statehood in 1820, by Representative James Tallmadge, who proposed as a condition of Missouri’s statehood that no further slaves could be imported into the state and all children born after Missouri’s admission to the Union shall be born free. This condition, known as the Tallmadge amendment, set out a plan for gradual emancipation in Missouri. This began a debate that would only end with the Union’s win of the Civil War. The great orator, and Speaker of the House, Henry Clay, would propose a “Compromise” which would defeat that petition and allow Missouri to enter as a slave state instead in 1821.

2019 photograph by Dorris Keeven-Franke

TODAY

Today the Boone’s Lick Road still exists, is known as Missouri’s first “road” and really begins in St. Charles. St. Louis, was a great city which had grown to several thousands by 1829, and there were several ways of reaching St. Charles, including the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. Designated the site for the first Capitol in 1821, until the City of Jefferson and a Capitol building could be completed in 1826, it was a frontier outpost, and part of the way America was moving westward. While only a few thousand souls in 1829, who resided on the hillsides formerly called Les Petite Cotes (the Little Hills) by the French-Canadians like Louis Blanchett(e) who had founded the settlement.

The trailblazer Daniel Boone had brought his family and slaves to St. Charles in September of 1799, where they settled west of St. Charles along the Missouri River. Daniel’s son Nathan would build his first home and eventually his father would come to live with him. Nathan was also a surveyor like his father, who would own property and survey St. Charles. He and his brother Daniel Morgan, had formed regiments for the Territorial Governor General Benjamin Howard before the beginning of the War of 1812 from men in St. Charles County whose father’s and grandfather’s had fought in the first War with Great Britain. After the war, by 1815, they had gone into business with James Morrison who had arrived from the east in 1804. Morrison would supply General Montgomery Pike’s expedition in 1806, and would co-partner with the Boone sons, Nathan and Daniel Morgan, in a salt foundry in Howard County. The road between Morrison’s mercantile on Main Street in St. Charles to the Salt Lick became known as the road to the Boone’s Lick. Salt was a extremely necessary and valuable commodity on the frontier in the 1820s, and the region that developed around it was referred to by the settlers as the Boone’s Lick Road.

Morrison’s Trading Post on Main Street in St. Charles
Missouri’s First State Capitol on Main Street in St. Charles, in St. Charles County.

The next entry is the final entry in William Campbell’s journal and is written on Thursday, October 8, 1829. https://archeralexander.wordpress.com/2020/10/08/october-8-1829-the-final-entry/

If you wish to read the entire journal from the beginning, it begins with the post 20 August 1829 https://archeralexander.wordpress.com/2020/08/20/20-august-1829-first-entry/

*This is the journal of William Campbell (1805-1849) leading four families from Lexington, in Rockbridge County, Virginia to St. Charles County Missouri, written in 1829. This journal is located in the collections of the Leyburn Library, Special Collections and Archives, located at the Washington and Lee University, in Lexington, Virginia, and for which we are deeply indebted to Lisa McCown. Editor is Dorris Keeven-Franke.

Library of Congress

30 September 1829 – Thirty-fifth entry

Forty one days ago, on August 20, 1829 William Campbell first wrote: I started from Lexington, Virginia on a journey to the state of Missouri. My own object in going to that remote section of the Union was to seek a place where I might obtain an honest livelihood by the practice of law. I travel in company with four families containing about 50 individuals, white and black.

On this date, these four families: James and Nancy (McCluer) Alexander; Nancy’s brother Dr. Robert McCluer, and his wife Sophie who is William Campbell’s sister; newlyweds James and Mary (Borden) Wilson, who owned twenty-five enslaved individuals; and the German family of Jacob and Anna (Robinson) Icenhower who owned no slaves are in Illinois. Among the enslaved was a strong young 23-year-old man named Archer Alexander and his young wife Louisa. They will all settle together in the frontier settlement of Dardenne Prairie, in Saint Charles County, Missouri.

Next day rode over miles of very bad roads between Muddy Fork and Little Wabash, said to overflow in winter. Passed through Maysville, the county town of Clay county. It consists of a small wooden court house and jail, two houses and three cabins. Crossed one prairie 10 miles wide, through which passed a small stream called Elm River. The rising and setting of the sun on the prairie is a glorious sight. Encamped in a prairie near a skirt of wood.*

In 1810 John McCawley and Seth Evans were traveling west from Fort Vincennes along the old Buffalo Trace when one of their horses died. McCawley sent his companion back for another horse. McCawley stayed behind in a cabin built on the west bank of the Little Wabash River. This made McCawley the first white man to settle in this area. McCawley later decided to build a stagecoach stop and trading center on the location which was known as McCawley’s Tavern. It provided a place for travelers to stop, eat, and spend the night.

Clay County was created by an act of the legislature on December 23, 1824. On Tuesday, March 8, 1825, at John McCawley’s place, the first county commissioners’ court assembled for the new county of Clay. In 1825 Daniel May donated 20 acres of land, just over 2 miles west of McCawley’s Tavern, to the county for the purpose of constructing a courthouse. This area had previously been known as Hubbardsville but was renamed Maysville. A two-room courthouse was constructed in 1825, and court was held at Maysville until 1841 when it was moved to the new and present county seat, Louisville.

TODAY

Today’s Clay County Courthouse

In 1855, after the Ohio &Mississippi (O&M) Railroad was located about 1 mile north of Maysville, Clay City was established by Mr. J.D. Perkey on the north side of the tracks and mostly to the east of the present North Main Street. The business district soon developed to the south of the tracks where it is presently located. Maysville was made a part of the Village of Clay City in 1862. Clay City served as a trading center for the surrounding countryside. Clay City was named for the Kentucky statesman Henry Clay, author of the ‘Missouri Compromise’.

In Louisville, the retired county jail has the distinction of hosting the Clay County museum with the building listed on the National Registry of Historic places. Restoration efforts are also underway in the village of Sailor Springs, once a resort area in the early 1900s featuring natural springs.

The journal continues on 1 October 1829 https://archeralexander.wordpress.com/2020/10/03/1-2-october-1829-thirty-sixth-and-thirty-seventh-entry/

*This is the journal of William Campbell (1805-1849) leading four families from Lexington, in Rockbridge County, Virginia to St. Charles County Missouri, written in 1829. This journal is located in the collections of the Leyburn Library, Special Collections and Archives, located at the Washington and Lee University, in Lexington, Virginia, and for which we are deeply indebted to Lisa McCown. Editor is Dorris Keeven-Franke.

29 September 1829 – Thirty-fourth entry

No sight can be more magnificent… These are the words of William Campbell writing with so much emotion, about the great plains the caravan is crossing. Campbell was a 24 year-old well-educated and well traveled young man, a lawyer, leading fifty people to Missouri from Virginia. He has amazed at the new landscape they encountered.

Like his father and mother before him, the enslaved Archer had never been away from Rockbridge County Virginia where he had been born in 1806. He had never seen anything like what he’d encountered these past six weeks. The caravan had entered Illinois, where the first state Constitution in 1818 stated that while slavery shall not be “thereafter introduced” it was still to be tolerated. Illinois was a ‘free state’ all the same, and this was something that Archer would always remember. He also thought No sight can be more magnificent

Next day finished our journey over fine roads. Generally through wide prairies. Some of the prairies are eight miles across and extended as far as the eye could see in length. No sight can be more magnificent than one of the boundless prairies, covered with grass, weeds, flowers and sometimes clumps of trees. They abound with larks and prairie hens. Crossed Fox River. Encamped at Muddy fork of Little Wabash. A deep dirty little stream which we were compelled to cross on one of the worst bridges I ever saw, for which we were charged an extortionate toll, 87-1/2 cents.*

While the Illinois state constitution did not have a clause forbidding an amendment to allow slavery, religions leaders like John Mason Peck, and voters had rejected a proposal for a new constitutional convention that could have made slavery legal, five years before, in 1824. Despite these laws tolerating de facto slavery, in a series of legal decisions the Illinois Supreme Court developed a jurisprudence to gradually emancipate the enslaved people of Illinois. The justices decided that in order for a contract of servitude to be valid, both parties must be in agreement and sign it, and it was registered within 30 days of entering the state. In one of the predecessors of the Dred Scott decision, Moore v. People, 55 U.S. 13 (1852), the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a conviction for harboring a fugitive slave from Missouri, as had the Illinois Supreme Court a few years earlier.

Crossing the River

Slave catchers from Missouri would travel to Illinois either to recapture escaped slaves, or kidnap free blacks for sale into slavery, particularly since Illinois’ legislature tightened the Black Code to state that recaptured escaped slaves would have time added to their indentures. A law barred blacks from being witnesses in court cases against whites, then two years later barred blacks from suing for their freedom. Illinois residents participated in the underground railroad for fugitive slaves  seeking freedom, with major routes beginning in the Mississippi River towns of  Quincy , Alton, Chester in Illinois and Hannibal, St. Charles, and Cape Girardeau in Missouri. Other routes ran from Cairo, up to Springfield where they would go up the Wabash River.  

Map of the United States compiled from the latest and most accurate surveys by Amos Lay, geographer & map publisher, New York. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.gmd/g3700.rr000020

TODAY

2019 Photo by Dorris Keeven-Franke

The Little Wabash River is a 240-mile-long tributary of the Wabash River in east-central and southeastern Illinois in the United States. Via the Wabash and Ohio rivers, it is part of the watershed of the Mississippi River. It is the third largest tributary after the White River and the Embarras River.  

Map by Kmusser – Self-made, based on USGS data. 3 June 2008 All structured data from the file and property namespaces is available under the Creative Commons License 

*This is the journal of William Campbell (1805-1849) leading four families from Lexington, in Rockbridge County, Virginia to St. Charles County Missouri, written in 1829. This journal is located in the collections of the Leyburn Library, Special Collections and Archives, located at the Washington and Lee University, in Lexington, Virginia, and for which we are deeply indebted to Lisa McCown. Editor is Dorris Keeven-Franke.

The journal continues on September 30, 1829 https://archeralexander.wordpress.com/2020/09/30/30-september-1829-thirty-fifth-entry/

28th September 1829 – Thirty-third entry

The caravan completed its’ crossing of the state of Indiana and is starting across Illinois. America was on the move. They have come over 600 miles from Rockbridge County in Virginia on their own journey. These things are not on the mind of these fifty weary travelers, headed for Saint Charles County in Missouri, of which the enslaved Archer Alexander is a member. In 1876, the Emancipation Monument in Washington, D.C. was the vision of thousands of the formerly enslaved people that President Lincoln had helped free. The monument with Archer Alexander (1806-1880) portrays a slave who has worked to free himself, has broken and thrown off his shackles and is seen rising with the vision of the future on his face. The face of freedom.

Indiana

Next day came through Vincennes, a beautifully situated town, on the bank of the Wabash, with a number of fine brick houses and some miserable old French dwellings. Here we obtained the first sight of a beautiful prairie, a noble sight. The Wabash is a fine stream, smooth, gentle and magnificent. Crossed on a good ferry, a decent ferryman. Ferriage $1.62-1/2.

NARA – 518211.tif

William Clark’s older brother, Lieutenant Colonel George Rogers Clark, and others created a plan to capture the French forts that the British occupied after Louisiana was ceded. After Kaskaskia was captured by Clark, Lieutenant Governor Henry Hamilton sent British soldiers and reinforcements from Detroit to Fort Vincennes and helped to rebuild the fort. During our Revolutionary War the Patriots won the Battle of Vincennes on February 23–24, 1779. Although the Americans would remain in control of Vincennes, it took years to establish peace. By 1798, the population had reached 2,500. Vincennes was no longer considered a trading outpost, but a thriving city. In 1826, a party of 500 Shawnee Indians passed through Vincennes, Tecumseh and his younger brother, also known as The Prophet, were among them.

Baskin, Forster and Company, Chicago – Illustrated Historical Atlas of the State of Indiana 1876

Vincennes was founded as part of the French colony of New France. Later on, it would be transferred to the colony of Louisiana. Several years later, when France lost the French and Indian War it was ceded to the British. As the French colonials pushed north from Louisiana and south from Canada, British colonists continued to push west. In addition, British traders lured away many of Indians who had traded with the Canadians. The population grew quickly in the years that followed, resulting in a unique culture of interdependent the American Indians, British and American colonials. Its commerce was fueled by fur traders.

ILLINOIS

Set foot in Illinois. Soon entered a fine prairie, the greater part of which is sometimes overflowed so as to make the Wabash five miles wide. People rather more cleanly in their persons and house than in Indiana. More marks of industry. Encamped at Sheildier’s Orchard. The country is alternated prairie and woods. Some of them glorious views. Passed through Lawrenceville, the county seat of Lawrence county, a small town of twenty houses on the Ambrose (Embarrass) River.*

TODAY

We build monuments to our many American heroes. Each is erected to share the story of someone’s heroism. These monuments share a story, and allow us to hear the voice of the people portrayed. Placed there by those who want these people and their heroic deeds remembered throughout history and forever more. If one does not take the time to stop and learn the true story, and listen to the voices of those portrayed… its’ purpose may be lost.

The Wabash River at Vincennes Indiana. 2019 Photo by Dorris Keeven-Franke
The Old French House and Indian Museum in Vincennes, Indiana. 2019 Photo by Dorris Keeven-Franke
2019 Photo by Dorris Keeven-Franke
Photo of George Rogers Clark National Historic Park. 2019 Photo by Dorris Keeven-Franke

Learn the Hidden History of the Emancipation Monument from historians, researchers and authors. Marcia E. Cole tells the story of the former slave, Charlotte Scott, who conceived the idea of a memorial to President Lincoln paid for solely by former slaves and Black soldiers. Candace O’Connor explains the important work of the often overlooked Rev. William Greenleaf Eliot and the Western Sanitary Commission. Dorris Keeven-Franke shares details of the real-life Archer Alexander portrayed rising in the monument alongside President Lincoln. Carl Adams tells a little known story revealing Lincoln’s early thoughts and actions on slavery. And Jonathan White explores the powerful oratory delivered at the monument’s dedication by Frederick Douglass and a recently discovered Douglass letter shedding light on his views on the monument. The Emancipation Monument, also known as Freedom’s Memorial or the Lincoln Statue was dedicated in Washington, D.C. on April 14, 1876. It was paid for solely by donations from emancipated citizens and Black Union soldiers. Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton has introduced legislation requiring the National Park Service to remove the statue from its place in Lincoln Park and place it indoors in a museum. This educational video introduces the remarkable people who were part of this monument’s creation and hopes to convince viewers of the need to keep the Emancipation Monument standing, as it has for 144 years, as a testament to those who turned five dollars and a dream into a reality. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aPmOmdadEIQ&feature=youtu.be

Hidden History of the Emancipation Monument

*This is the journal of William Campbell (1805-1849) leading four families from Lexington, in Rockbridge County, Virginia to St. Charles County Missouri, written in 1829. This journal is located in the collections of the Leyburn Library, Special Collections and Archives, located at the Washington and Lee University, in Lexington, Virginia, and for which we are deeply indebted to Lisa McCown. Editor is Dorris Keeven-Franke.

27 September 1829 – Thirty-second entry

On the 27th of September the caravan is crossing Indiana. This is the journal of William Campbell, moving four families from Rockbridge County Virginia to Saint Charles County Missouri. The caravan is made up of just four families. Between the Alexander, McCluer and Wilson families, they own twenty-five people, half of the caravan. Archer Alexander is a part of this. Its’ 1829, and America is on the move.

Next day had incessant hard rain nearly all day. We pushed on to get over the Little White River. Got very wet. Crossed the river easily. A fine stream nearly the same size as Big White River. Roads very muddy after the rain. The country between the forks of the White is level, a part of it is good land but part is barren. Encamped at [Andrew] Purcells, road and country level; many movers.*

Even before the U.S. and President Thomas Jefferson made his great land grab, the Louisiana Purchase, Americans had already turned westward. The French-Canadians from upper Quebec had migrated south after the wars between Great Britain and France, joining the French Creole population who had migrated north from New Orleans. On February 10, 1763, when Saint Louis and Saint Charles, Missouri, were being established, New France was being ceded to Great Britain. Revolutionary War hero George Rogers Clark would acquaint his younger brother William Clark with this territory. Years later President Thomas Jefferson, would send both William Clark and Captain Meriwether Lewis, to search out what Jefferson considered to be America’s Manifest Destiny, its great western movement. To find the head of the Missouri River at the Pacific Ocean, was their assignment. The enslaved York would be part of that story in American history. And York is as much a hero as each and every member of that Expedition.

This caravan has packed more than furniture for this journey. They have brought their religion as well as all joined the Dardenne Presbyterian Church. They have brought their heritage, some Irish, and some German, but all American. They have brought their families, with children who would continue their family’s tradition and practices. And they have brought their enslaved people as well. They have all followed the same roads and rivers. They have all slept under the same stars. But only some of them were free.

TODAY

Washington, in Davis County, Indiana, was platted in 1815. The railroad was built through Washington 1857. By 1889, it was a major depot and repair yard for the Ohio and Mississippi Railroad.  The Baltimore and. Ohio Railroad took over the line in 1893. During this time, the railroad employed over 1,000 workers.

For more see the Daviess County Historical Society https://www.daviesscountyhistory.com/

Logootee, Indiana 2019 Photo by Dorris Keeven-Franke
East Fork of the White River 2019 Photo by Dorris Keeven-Franke

*This is the journal of William Campbell (1805-1849) leading four families from Lexington, in Rockbridge County, Virginia to St. Charles County Missouri, written in 1829. This journal is located in the collections of the Leyburn Library, Special Collections and Archives, located at the Washington and Lee University, in Lexington, Virginia, and for which we are deeply indebted to Lisa McCown. Editor is Dorris Keeven-Franke.

Their journey continues on September 28th… https://archeralexander.wordpress.com/2020/09/28/28-september-1829/

26 September 1829 – Thirty-first entry

On the road for thirty-seven days, William Campbell’s journal tells us that Archer and the caravan have traveled over five-hundred miles. As these four families, and their enslaved people from Lexington, Virginia move to Saint Charles County in Missouri they would also travel through today’s West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. In 1829, roads were often former animal traces, or Native American migration routes. They went were people needed to go…the Mill, church or courthouse. And the mill, the mercantile and the school were built along the roads…

Location, Location, Location

Came next day to the big White River at Hindostin. A year ago this was a flourishing town, but it is going to ruins in consequence of the county seat having been removed higher up the river. White River is a beautiful stream sufficient for navigation of large keel boats in season when waters are full. We forded it easily. Encamped at Washington, the county town of Davies County, a tolerably decent village.*

2019 Photo by Dorris Keeven-Franke

Sign: Site of Hindostan (.6 mile south) First settled in 1818, Hindostan became county seat of Martin County, boast a population of approximately 1,200 “A Great Sickness struck in 1828, brings death to the inhabitants. The town was never occupied again.

In 1829, your town’s location on a road that was well traveled was very important. Roads led to where people wanted to go! The County seat, the mill, any other important destination. Roads grew out of a need to get somewhere. Each and every stop by William Campbell is because it is that County’s Seat of Government. However, County Seats move.

An epidemic of cholera broke out in Hindostan in 1820. Water- and insect-borne illnesses were the bane of many towns on the Midwestern frontier. Situated along rivers for the purpose of easy transportation, towns were often built on flood plains that bred insects in huge numbers. Drinking wells, and cisterns would be overcome by floods, and become contaminated. However, at that time, it was thought that disease spread, by person to person contact. Even, it was believed that those buried in cemeteries, continued to exhume diseased vapors into the air. Many would enact laws that all cemeteries be outside of city limits, at least by a mile, to protect the residents. The ferocity of the epidemic that struck Hindostan however, caused an entire population to succumb to disease and abandon the area. By 1824, less than half the population remained in Hindostan, though many seem to have stayed in the county.

An economic depression around 1820 worked alongside the epidemic to drive people away. Some families who had bought land on credit defaulted and fled the area. Hindostan may have lost as many residents to the economic depression as to sickness. Residents who remained were unable to pay their taxes and county and local creditors foreclosed on their property. Hindostan is in Orange County and not to be confused with Hindustan, in Monroe/Madison County.

TODAY

2019 Photo by Dorris Keeven-Franke 

The site is now the location of an Indiana State Fishing and Recreation area. A historic marker on County Road 550 stands a half-mile north of where the town was. No buildings survive, but there are a few surviving pioneer cemeteries nearby, a restored church, and numerous square holes in a large flat rock along the river drilled to support the former mill at Hindostan. 

*This is the journal of William Campbell (1805-1849) leading four families from Lexington, in Rockbridge County, Virginia to St. Charles County Missouri, written in 1829. This journal is located in the collections of the Leyburn Library, Special Collections and Archives, located at the Washington and Lee University, in Lexington, Virginia, and for which we are deeply indebted to Lisa McCown. Editor is Dorris Keeven-Franke.

The journey continues on 27 September 1829 https://archeralexander.wordpress.com/2020/09/27/27-september-1829-thirty-second-entry/

25 September 1829 – Thirtieth entry

The caravan is on the migratory route of buffalo, known as the Buffalo Trace, facing several difficulties now. The roads are bad and rocky, and are thickly wooded. When their best horse dies from eating green corn, William Campbell blames the locals. Things are not going well for Archer and the group that left Lexington, Virginia, back on August 20. William Campbell seems to feel the local population is not the most welcoming he’s encountered either. They are near Portersville, crossing DuBois County in Indiana.

Next day came through a rough country with a miserable population of the lowest order. Country is limestone. Some stone coal. Water bad from wells. Encamped at Markells, where our best horse died suddenly, the effect of a hard drive, after a hearty dinner of green corn. Hard luck. Roads very hilly.*

William Campbell was born the 19th of June 1805, one of ten children of Samuel Legrand Campbell and Sally Reid Alexander. His brother Charles Fenelon Campbell had accompanied them until Ripley, Ohio. He had attended what what would become Washington and Lee University where his father was the second President. A recent law graduate, he hoped to establish a lucrative law practice in St. Charles County. Politically, he was a member of the popular Whig Party. Once he reached St. Charles County, he would be elected to serve as a State Representative in 1832 and 1834. He moved to St. Louis where he would also be elected as a State Senator in 1836,’38,’42 and 1846. In 1844, he would become the founder of the Historical and Philosophical Society of Missouri.

When living in Saint Charles, he would be owner/editor of the St. Charles Clarion Newspaper. When he moved to St. Louis he would be owner of the St. Louis New Era Newspaper, where he reported on the issues of slavery. Campbell was a close friend of the abolitionist Elijah Lovejoy, another newspaper editor who would be killed by a mob in Alton, Illinois in 1837. By 1836, Campbell had moved to St. Louis, where he died on December 30, 1849, perhaps a victim of the cholera epidemic that was sweeping the countryside then.

This journal’s author, William Campbell, has known Archer his entire life, because he’s the property of Campbell’s cousin James Alexander. Archer was born in 1806, the son of the enslaved Aleck (for Alexander) and Chloe, who were both property of the Alexander family of Rockbridge County, Virginia. When James and his wife Nancy (McCluer) Alexander both pass away during the raging cholera epidemic of the 1830s. Alexander’s Will clearly states that Archer is absolutely not to be sold, Archer, his wife Louisa, and their children are only to be rented or used for the financial support and benefit of the four small orphans. William Campbell becomes the executor of the Alexander estate and likewise the person who controls Archer’s life…and freedom.

TODAY

Photo courtesy of Ireland Historical Society 
Hobard McDonald and Henry Rudolph are pictured with two teams of mules and a large log on a box wagon chassis in Portersville sometime in the early 1900s. The sycamore log was said to be 58 inches in diameter. From the August 21, 2017 issue of the DuBois County Herald.
Sherritt Cemetery (DuBois County Herald file photo)

Information and photos are from the DuBois County Herald article by Leann Burke [https://duboiscountyherald.com/b/portersville-history-chronicled-starting-with-settlers]… “The Buffalo Trace was part of a buffalo migratory route that ran through Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky. It served as the first major road into what became Indiana and ran through Dubois County near the White River in present day Boone Township.”

*This is the journal of William Campbell (1805-1849) leading four families from Lexington, in Rockbridge County, Virginia to St. Charles County Missouri, written in 1829. This journal is located in the collections of the Leyburn Library, Special Collections and Archives, located at the Washington and Lee University, in Lexington, Virginia, and for which we are deeply indebted to Lisa McCown. Editor is Dorris Keeven-Franke.

The Journal continues on September 26, 1829 https://archeralexander.wordpress.com/2020/09/26/entry-31-date-26-september-1829/

24 September 1829 – Twenty-ninth entry

Next day passed through a barren corner of Harrison Co. It is destitute of both wood and water. Poor soil covered with low brush. The roads alternately good and bad.Crossed Blue River at Fredericksburg. Next day passed through a poor country, and a small town called Pool [Paoli] The county seat of Washington [Orange] County. Roads very steep and hilly. Encamped at Pistareens.*

INDIANA

From Virginia to Missouri, the road wasn’t easy for anyone. Our weary travelers are now crossing southern Indiana, and have been on the road for over a month. They would take seven weeks to travel through seven states, leaving Virginia in August and arriving in Missouri in October. Men, women, children, babies and their enslaved would make the same trek. No two days would be the same. They would rest on Sundays and find a church to attend. The roads were good in some places, and horrible in others. “Pistareens” must be an innkeeper that has disappeared with the sands of time.

Slavery was allowed when the land that would become Indiana was annexed to the United States in 1783. What became the ‘Northwest Territory’ was annexed to the United States had already been controlled by the French for the previous 20 years. In 1787 Congress organized the territory with the Northwest Ordinance which prohibited slavery by stating “that there shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in the said territory“. It would later be decided that anyone who purchased a slave outside of the territory could enter and reside there with their slaves. Many who were from Virginia, like the Campbells, McCluers and Alexanders, living in the territory interpreted the Ordinance as allowing them to have slaves. The Ordinance stated that the Virginians “shall have their possessions and titles confirmed to them, and be protected in the enjoyment of their rights and liberties.” Many had decided to keep enslaved people as their property. Fear of French rebellion had kept the courts from acting against slavery, as did the violent actions of those who would kidnap escaped slaves. A court ruling of 1807 stated that pre-existing slavery could still exist under the Northwest Ordinance, only served to continue the practice of the ‘peculiar institution’ as some liked to refer to as slavery.

Many of the Northwest Territory’s early settlers came from the southern states, those who were anti-slavery settled in Ohio where a strong anti-slavery movement was already underway. The land was given as bounty for our Revolutionary War military service. The immigrants in favor of slavery generally moved to Indiana. When they relocated to the Indiana Territory, they brought what few slaves they owned with them. An 1810 census recorded 393 free blacks and 237 slaves in the Indiana Territory. After the Revolutionary War, George Rogers Clark and his soldiers, all Virginians, had been given land grants in southern Indiana. Those who settled in Indiana brought their Southern ideals with them, as many of the territory’s early settlers had come from the southern states.

In 1809, Dennis Pennington, one of the most outspoken anti-slavery men and a friend of  Henry Clay, was elected to the legislature and became speaker in the assembly. His prominence allowed him to dominate the legislature. Before the Indiana Constitutional Convention in 1816, Pennington was quoted as saying “Let us be on our guard when our convention men are chosen that they be men opposed to slavery. At the Constitutional Convention, the anti-slavery party was able to take control, electing Jennings as the President of the convention. It was by their actions that slavery was banned by the first Constitution. Despite slavery and indentures becoming illegal in 1816 due to the state Constitution, the 1820 federal census listed 190 slaves in Indiana. Many slaveholders felt that the 1816 constitution did not cover preexisting slavery; others would not care if it was illegal.   

In 1829, as William Campbell and the 25 enslaved people with him slowly traveled across the state, slavery was still accepted by many of Indiana’s residents, even though Indiana was considered a “free” state. This would have been 23 year-old Archer’s first encounter with that glorious ability of freedom for all of the black people in the state. The desire for such freedom, was surely growing within him…

The road through Indiana
Map from the Library of Congress

TODAY

2019 Photo by Dorris Keeven-Franke
2019 Photo by Dorris Keeven-Franke
2019 Photo by Dorris Keeven-Franke

*This is the journal of William Campbell (1805-1849) leading four families from Lexington, in Rockbridge County, Virginia to St. Charles County Missouri, written in 1829. This journal is located in the collections of the Leyburn Library, Special Collections and Archives, located at the Washington and Lee University, in Lexington, Virginia, and for which we are deeply indebted to Lisa McCown. Editor is Dorris Keeven-Franke.

Twenty-three year old Archer Alexander is a member of this caravan. He is also the face of freedom on the Emancipation Monument. Please sign our Petition to keep this monument standing where the enslaved erected it as a tribute to Lincoln!

Please sign the petition
https://www.change.org/EmancipationMonumentDC

William Campbell’s journal continues on 25 September 1829…

23 September 1829 – Twenty-eighth entry

Archer is leaving Kentucky and passing into the free state of Indiana…

U.S. Steamer Lexington

Next day proceeded on our way to Lewisville (now called Louisville) a handsome well built business-like place on the Ohio River. Staid sometime in market house which was abundantly supplied with fish, flesh, fruit and vegetables. Supplied ourselves with provisions and left the second town on the Ohio River. Nearly forty steamboats were lying in the river near the town. Crossed the river in a horse boat, with a drunken, ill-mannered unaccommodating and extortionate ferryman. Toll $3.18-3/4. After passing through Shippings-port and Portland we landed in New Albany in Indiana, a finely situated village. A place of some business and which would be important if it were not swallowed up by the start and capitol of Lewisville. Passed 6 miles into Indiana over very steep bad roads. Encamped agter a big rain. The first county after our entrance into the state was Floyd, a rough broken county, heavily timbered with filthy, degraded, laxy population. New Albany is the county town.*

Steamboat plans

What an exciting day this must have been for everyone! The bustling city and its market, with all the steamboats lined up at the levee, waiting to be loaded. Oh how easy it would have been to slip away if you were an enslaved member of the caravan. But wait, we are crossing that beautiful river and proceeding through Indiana – a free state. What that must have felt like to Archer and the others. Not privy to the plans, the enslaved had no control over where they were or where they were going.

The Levee, Louisville, Ky.
Digital ID: (digital file from original) det 4a10070 http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/det.4a10069
Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-det-4a10069 (digital file from original) LC-DIG-det-4a10070 (digital file from original)
Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.print
Library of Congress

Days are growing shorter, and Missouri is steadily coming closer…They have been traveling for weeks…

*This is the journal of William Campbell (1805-1849) leading four families from Lexington, in Rockbridge County, Virginia to St. Charles County Missouri, written in 1829. This journal is located in the collections of the Leyburn Library, Special Collections and Archives, located at the Washington and Lee University, in Lexington, Virginia, and for which we are deeply indebted to Lisa McCown. Editor is Dorris Keeven-Franke.

Next journal entry is September 24, 1829

https://archeralexander.wordpress.com/2020/09/24/24-september-1829/

22 September 1829-Twenty-seventh entry

This is the journey of Archer, the enslaved property of James Alexander of Lexington, Virginia. Alexander is a member of a caravan of families moving to St. Charles County in Missouri being led by his cousin William Campbell, a young attorney hoping to set up a law practice there. If we listen closely to Campbell’s words, we might hear the voices of the enslaved… after all this is their story too.

Started on Monday Morning. Passed into Shelby Co, tolerably good land. Went through Shelbyville, a handsome town and entered Bowers in Jefferson County. Jefferson County is a level rich county, sickly and cultivated for the supply of the Lewisville [Louisville] market. Large fields were planted in cabbage and other vegetables; the wagons and carts were running by our camp almost the whole night on their way to market.*

In 1829, Kentucky was an agrarian community. These farmers would have large fields, that were tended by their enslaved. Kentucky was formerly part of the Commonwealth of Virginia. On December 18, 1789, Virginia gave its consent to Kentucky statehood. These families, the McCluer, the Campbell and the Alexander families, were farmers. Like the family of Daniel Boone they lived close to the land. Unlike larger plantation owners back in Virginia, they owned a few hundred acres, and thus their community of enslaved, were often smaller as well. Often that meant everyone was more directly involved in the day to day tasks of living. Thus while there was still the social distinction, there was more familiarity, and even kinship. However, that never prevented an owner from doing what was best for his family or his commercial interests, with his enslaved. All of the enslaved people lived with the daily threat, that as they were just property, if they didn’t behave they would be “sold south” and separated from their families forever.

When the McCluer family left Rockbridge County, Virginia they stopped in Lexington Kentucky, to pick up members of their family. According to Campbell’s journal, the Alexanders, James H. and Nancy McCluer, departed Lexington Virginia with five children, but would arrive in Missouri with only four, all under the age of 10. The age of that fifth child, is unknown, however the child may have been a newborn. While it seems that William Campbell never devotes space in his journal for such tedious details as birth and deaths, there is oral history passed down in the family of Archer Alexander that seems to reveal a ‘backstory’ here.

Family historian, Keith Winstead, has researched his great-great grandfather Wesley Alexander for over thirty years. The family’s oral history was that Wesley seemed to have been “dropped off” as a infant in the area of Louisville Kentucky around 1829. Winstead has been unable to determine if Wesley had actually been born in Louisville, or if that is simply where the family history first puts him. Presumably the wet nurse for the McCluer family, was also mother of a newborn child herself. Recent DNA evidence shares descendants of Wesley are directly tied to the McCluer family as well. Descendants of Wesley also have DNA connections to the statesman Henry Clay, who hailed from Kentucky, the abolitionist Cassius Clay, and his namesake Muhammad Ali (1942-2016). Keith Winstead is also a cousin of Muhammad Ali. The Clay family also owned many acres of farmland west of St. Louis as well, where one of his enslaved descendants Squire Clay hails from. Sometimes, the true parenthood of these children blurs the lines even further, making their identities even more hidden and extremely difficult to unravel.

TODAY

Oral history of enslaved people should never be discredited, because with diligent and exhaustive research, much of it can be still documented. By 1855, Wesley had married the enslaved Patsy Fry, who gives birth presumably to their first of what is said to be 20 children. From this branch of the family, also comes the famous descendant, Muhammad Ali, born Cassius Clay in Louisville Kentucky. For more about that family connection see the Washington Post article of October 2, 2018. https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/2018/10/02/dna-evidence-links-muhammad-ali-heroic-slave-family-says/ As it explains “The lineage” according to Keith Winstead, “goes like this: Ali’s father, Cassius Clay Sr., was the son of Edith Greathouse, who was Alexander’s great-granddaughter.

As Muhammad Ali said in 1964 “Why should I keep my white slave master’s name visible and my black ancestors invisible, unknown, unhonored?”  At that time, Ali did not even know of his family connection to Archer Alexander. And although Keith Winstead was unaware as well , the family has since said ““He would have loved knowing he was connected to someone like that [Archer].”

In October 2018, Ben Strauss of the Washington Post shared the DNA story [https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/2018/10/02/dna-evidence-links-muhammad-ali-heroic-slave-family-says/] and I learned how Archer Alexander is the great-great-great grandfather of Muhammad Ali. I was contacted by Keith Winstead and he posed the question “Do you know where Archer Alexander is buried?” This research has led to even further discoveries of more amazing stories of Archer Alexander’s life. When the Unitarian minister William Greenleaf Eliot shared Archer’s story in 1885, America’s great “Reconstruction” was ending and so was what a Boston publisher was able to print, and so it became necessary to fictionalize some of the names in Archer’s history. Eliot explains this in the beginning of his book, From Slavery to Freedom which is a slave narrative of Archer Alexander. In order for Eliot to achieve his dream and see his story of Archer published, he turned to his close friend Jessie Benton Fremont, wife of the great pathfinder James Fremont for help. Jessie is also the daughter of Thomas Hart Benton, one of Missouri’s first State Senators and a granddaughter of James McDowell of near Lexington, Virginia. Extensive research completed in 2019 reveals that there is no Presbyterian Church Elder named Thomas Delaney that owned a plantation called Kalorama in Botetourt County in 1816. We know now, that Archer Alexander was born in Rockbridge County, Virginia in 1806 and came to Missouri in 1829 at age 23. Archer was buried on December 8, 1880 in St. Peters Cemetery (Lucas & Hunt Road) is St. Louis County (now Normandy) and not “Centennary Cemetery near the Clayton Courthouse.” For more about that discovery see Chad Davis’ story A Louihttps://news.stlpublicradio.org/post/louisville-family-learns-about-their-ties-st-louis-slave-who-saved-lives#stream/0

Family reunion in St. Louis Missouri. L-R Author Dorris Keeven-Franke, Rahaman Ali (brother of Muhammad Ali) and his wife. 2019 Photo by Michele Thomas.
Campbell House in Dardenne Prairie with descendants of Archer Alexander and author Dorris Keeven-Franke. 2019 Photo by Michele Thomas.

Archer Alexander portrays the face of freedom, as a formerly enslaved man rising and who has broken his own chains, on the Emancipation Memorial in Washington, D.C.’s Lincoln Park. This monument was the dream of the formerly enslaved Charlotte Scott in 1865 when she learned of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln “the best friend” of the enslaved. She gave her previous owner William Rucker five dollars and asked that he help her see a monument to President Lincoln erected. The small fund would be shared with William Greenleaf Eliot and the Western Sanitary Commission. This was a privately funded war relief organization located in St. Louis, Missouri. Funded by the formerly enslaved people and the United States Colored Troops, it was dedicated in 1876, on the 11th anniversary of Lincoln’s assassination, by the great African American orator, the formerly enslaved Frederick Douglass and President Ulysses S. Grant. For more about the monument see The Hidden History of the Emancipation Monument on You Tube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aPmOmdadEIQ&feature=youtu.be

https://www.change.org/EmancipationMonumentDC

A petition has been started by the Archer Alexander family, asking that the Emancipation Monument remain in Lincoln Park, in Washington DC where the formerly enslaved wanted it. Please join us by signing at https://www.change.org/EmancipationMonumentDC TODAY!

*This is the journal of William Campbell (1805-1849) leading the Alexander, McCluer, Wilson and Icenhower families from Lexington, in Rockbridge County, Virginia to St. Charles County Missouri, written in 1829. This journal is located in the collections of the Leyburn Library, Special Collections and Archives, located at the Washington and Lee University, in Lexington, Virginia, and for which we are deeply indebted to Lisa McCown. 

Dorris Keeven-Franke is the biographer of Archer Alexander working on “The Untold Story of an American Hero – Archer Alexander”.

Next entry is 23 September 1829 https://archeralexander.wordpress.com/2020/09/24/23-september-1829/

18 September 1829 – Twenty-third Entry

from the journal of William Campbell of Lexington, Virginia…with the slave Archer Alexander… writes…

Entered Bourbon County. A fine rich county with elegant brick houses. Went through Millersburg, a small town with four churches and Paris the County town. In and about Paris are a number of extensive hemp and cotton factories. Traveled 23 miles and encamped on the land of James McDowell.*

After a long hard week of rain, the caravan is slowly making its way across Kentucky. They are on the road to Lexington where they will stay with relatives. They encamped at the home of James McDowell**, a native of Rockbridge County, where the caravan originates from. James, is the son of Samuel McDowell and Mary McClung, of Rockbridge County, Virginia. He served as a Private in the Continental Army during the Revolution. He would marry into another Scotch Irish family, Mary Paxton Lyle, 23 September in 1783, and the young couple moved to Kentucky in 1793 about three miles east of Lexington. When the War of 1812 broke out he organized and commanded a Company, that grew into a Regiment, and then into a Battalion. His voice gained him the name of “Old Thunder” as everyone could hear him lead the charge.

Other McDowell “kin” back in Rockbridge were the family of Elizabeth Preston McDowell, who had married Thomas Hart Benton, who would be one of Missouri’s first Senator’s from 1821 until 1851. Their daughter Jessie would marry John C. Fremont.

Today

The area presently bounded by Kentucky state lines was a part of the U.S. State of Virginia, known as Kentucky County when the British colonies separated themselves in the American Revolutionary War. In 1780, the Virginia legislature divided the previous Kentucky County into three smaller units: Fayette, Jefferson, and Lincoln. In 1791, this area was separated into the State of Kentucky; it became effective on June 1, 1792. From that time, the original three counties were divided several times. A portion of Fayette County was split off as Bourbon County in 1785; a portion of Bourbon was split off as Mason County in 1788; in 1806 the present Lewis County was split off from Mason. 

Archer was born enslaved by the Alexander family in Rockbridge County Virginia in 1806. In 1829, the Alexander family moved from Virginia to Dardenne Prairie in Saint Charles County, in Missouri. He lived there enslaved for over thirty years, working first in the brickyards of St. Louis, and then as a carpenter. By 1844, he had been sold to David Pitman, while his wife Louisa lived a few miles away. In the winter of 1863, Archer would risk his life to inform the Union Army that his owner had sabotaged the nearby railroad bridge. With his owner and a lynch mob in pursuit, he used a well known route of the Underground Railroad, to make his way to St. Louis. There he was taken in by William Greenleaf Eliot, a Unitarian minister, founder of Washington University, and a member of the Western Sanitary Commission. When Eliot’s close friend James Yeatman shared Charlotte Scott’s dream for a memorial to Lincoln in 1865, it would be another American hero Archer Alexander seen rising from his broken shackles alongside Lincoln on the Emancipation Monument in 1876. Today, the Emancipation Monument in Washington, D.C.’s Lincoln Park is in danger of being removed. This Federal Monument, was paid for entirely by the former enslaved people, as a memorial to President Lincoln. To sign the petition to keep it in place see https://www.change.org/EmancipationMonumentDC

*This is the journal of William Campbell (1805-1849) leading four families from Lexington, in Rockbridge County, Virginia to St. Charles County Missouri, written in 1829. There are 55 people in this caravan, 25 of which are enslaved. Among the enslaved is Archer Alexander.\This journal is located in the collections of the Leyburn Library, Special Collections and Archives, located at the Washington and Lee University, in Lexington, Virginia, and for which we are deeply indebted to Lisa McCown. Editor and author is Dorris Keeven-Franke.

**James McDowell  Born 29 APR 1760, Rockbridge County, Virginia Died 31 DEC 1843 • Flemingsburg, Fleming County, Kentucky, United States

The next entry in Campbell’s journal is September 19, 1829.https://archeralexander.wordpress.com/2020/09/19/19-september-1829/

17 September 1829 – Twenty-second Entry

from the journal of William Campbell as they journey from Virginia, through Kentucky, to Missouri, with Archer Alexander…

Traveled 17 miles. Passed over Fleming River into Nicholas County. County and roads rough. Crossed Licking River. Passed through the county town of Nickolas County, a handsome town with a fine courthouse..*

This region of Kentucky is noted for its scenic beauty, history, horse farms and hospitality. Nicholas County has a picturesque, rural character. Its rolling countryside is typical of the Bluegrass belt where winding roads lead past manicured farms, through wooded glades and small villages. Daniel Boone’s last Kentucky home place is also located in Nicholas County, the Historic marker is located on US HWY 68 just past the traffic islands heading north. While in Nicholas County, Boone lived on the Brushy Fork of Hinkston Creek in a cabin owned by his son Daniel Morgan Boone. Built by Boone in 1795, Boone and his family resided in the one room cabin until 1799. Boone, and his family moved to Saint Charles County Missouri in September of that year.

Illustration of Daniel Boone At Battle
of Blue Licks in Indian History For Young Folks by Francis Samuel Drake

Boone was initially prosperous, owning seven slaves by 1787 (a relatively large number for Kentucky at the time), but began to have financial troubles while living in Kentucky. The Spanish were eager to promote settlement in the sparsely populated regions of what would become Missouri. There the Spanish governor appointed Boone as judge (syndic) and commandant (military leader) of the Femme Osage district. Boone served as both until 1804, when what become Missouri became part of the United States following the Louisiana Purchase. When the War of 1812 came to Missouri, Boone’s sons Daniel Morgan Boone and Nathan Boone took part, but by that time Boone was much too old for militia duty. Boone spent his final years in Missouri, often in the company of children and grandchildren, where he continued to hunt and trap as much as his health and energy levels permitted.

Today

Blue Licks Battlefield State Resort Park is a park located partly in Nicholas County that encompasses 148 acres and features a monument commemorating the August 19, 1782. The Battle of the Blue Licks which was regarded as the final battle of the American Revolutionary War.  https://parks.ky.gov/carlisle/parks/historic/blue-licks-battlefield-state-resort-park

2019 Photo by Dorris Keeven-Franke

Archer was born enslaved by the Alexander family in Rockbridge County Virginia in 1806. In 1829, the Alexander family moved from Virginia to Dardenne Prairie in Saint Charles County, in Missouri. He lived there enslaved for over thirty years, working first in the brickyards of St. Louis, and then as a carpenter. By 1844, he had been sold to David Pitman, while his wife Louisa lived a few miles away. In the winter of 1863, Archer would risk his life to inform the Union Army that his owner had sabotaged the nearby railroad bridge. With his owner and a lynch mob in pursuit, he used a well known route of the Underground Railroad, to make his way to St. Louis. There he was taken in by William Greenleaf Eliot, a Unitarian minister, founder of Washington University, and a member of the Western Sanitary Commission. When Eliot’s close friend James Yeatman shared Charlotte Scott’s dream for a memorial to Lincoln in 1865, it would be another American hero Archer Alexander seen rising from his broken shackles alongside Lincoln on the Emancipation Monument in 1876. Today, the Emancipation Monument in Washington, D.C.’s Lincoln Park is in danger of being removed. This Federal Monument, was paid for entirely by the former enslaved people, as a memorial to President Lincoln. To sign the petition to keep it in place see https://www.change.org/EmancipationMonumentDC

*This is the journal of William Campbell (1805-1849) leading four families from Lexington, in Rockbridge County, Virginia to St. Charles County Missouri, written in 1829. There are 55 people in this caravan, 25 of which are enslaved. Among the enslaved is Archer Alexander.\This journal is located in the collections of the Leyburn Library, Special Collections and Archives, located at the Washington and Lee University, in Lexington, Virginia, and for which we are deeply indebted to Lisa McCown. Editor and author is Dorris Keeven-Franke.

The next entry in Campbell’s journal is September 18, 1829.

16 September 1829 – Twenty-first Entry

of the journal of William Campbell, leading four families and their enslaved people from Rockbridge County, Virginia to St. Charles County, Missouri…

Rain. Fleming County is richer than those we had before passed through; some good houses.*

First Presbyterian Church

Fleming County, in Kentucky, was formed in 1798 out of Mason County. The courthouse is of logs. Other families, with their slaves, from Fleming County had already migrated west to Missouri: Claiborne Fox Jackson who would become Missouri’s 15th Governor (Confederate) at the beginning of the Civil War in 1861. He and his brothers, all slaveowners, had moved to Arrow Rock (Missouri) in 1826. Jackson’s wife is the sister of the current (1829) Governor of Kentucky, John Breathitt. Campbell is apparently impressed with the County’s residents.

Slavery was an integral part of Kentucky’s economy from its beginning. In Lexington, slaves outnumbered slave owners: 10,000 slaves were owned by only 1,700 slave owners. Lexington was a central city in the state for the slave trade.It was not infrequent for slaves to be “hired out,” leased on temporary basis to other farmers or business for seasonal work. This was a common practice across the upper south. Some historians estimate that 12% of the slaves in Lexington and 16% of the slaves in Louisville were hired out.Kentucky contained small but notable free black hamlets throughout the state. About 5% of Kentucky’s black population was free by 1860. Free blacks were among the slaveholders in 1830, this group held slaves in 29 of Kentucky’s counties. In some cases, people would purchase their spouse, their children, or other enslaved relatives in order to protect them until they could free them. Conservative emancipation, which argued for gradually freeing the slaves and assisting them in a return to Africa, as proposed by the American Colonization Society, gained substantial support in the state from the 1820s onward. Cassius Marcellus Clay was a vocal advocate of this position. His newspaper was shut down by mob action in 1845. The anti-slavery Louisville Examiner was published successfully from 1847 to 1849.

Thomas W. Flemings House

Today

In 1998, the Kentucky designated Fleming County as the Covered Bridge Capital of Kentucky. For more see http://www.flemingkychamber.com/museum.html

Archer was born enslaved by the Alexander family in Rockbridge County Virginia in 1806. In 1829, the Alexander family moved from Virginia to Dardenne Prairie in Saint Charles County, in Missouri. He lived there enslaved for over thirty years, working first in the brickyards of St. Louis, and then as a carpenter. By 1844, he had been sold to David Pitman, while his wife Louisa lived a few miles away. In the winter of 1863, Archer would risk his life to inform the Union Army that his owner had sabotaged the nearby railroad bridge. With his owner and a lynch mob in pursuit, he used a well known route of the Underground Railroad, to make his way to St. Louis. There he was taken in by William Greenleaf Eliot, a Unitarian minister, founder of Washington University, and a member of the Western Sanitary Commission. When Eliot’s close friend James Yeatman shared Charlotte Scott’s dream for a memorial to Lincoln in 1865, it would be another American hero Archer Alexander seen rising from his broken shackles alongside Lincoln on the Emancipation Monument in 1876. Today, the Emancipation Monument in Washington, D.C.’s Lincoln Park is in danger of being removed. This Federal Monument, was paid for entirely by the former enslaved people, as a memorial to President Lincoln. To sign the petition to keep it in place see https://www.change.org/EmancipationMonumentDC

*This is the journal of William Campbell (1805-1849) leading four families from Lexington, in Rockbridge County, Virginia to St. Charles County Missouri, written in 1829. There are 55 people in this caravan, 25 of which are enslaved. Among the enslaved is Archer Alexander.\This journal is located in the collections of the Leyburn Library, Special Collections and Archives, located at the Washington and Lee University, in Lexington, Virginia, and for which we are deeply indebted to Lisa McCown. Editor and author is Dorris Keeven-Franke.

The next entry in Campbell’s journal is September 17, 1829. https://archeralexander.wordpress.com/2020/09/17/17-september-1829/

15 September 1829 – Twentieth Entry

from William Campbell’s journal…with the slave Archer Alexander in Kentucky, moving from Virginia to Missouri…

Hard rain in the morning. Very wet. Proceeded to Flemingsburg, a flourishing town of about 1,000 persons. It has a large proportion of well built brick houses. Saw a cotton factory, on a small scale. Encamped at Sulphur Spring one mile from Flemingsburg.*

Campbell is moving slowly now, heading towards Lexington, Kentucky. The heavy rain is making travel difficult. They stopped at the Courthouse in Flemingsburg, The town was founded in 1797 by George S. Stockton, a fellow native of Virginia. Stockton named the town and county after his half-brother Colonel John Fleming. It has been the seat of Fleming County since its formation and was formally incorporated in 1812. It is south of Maysville and northeast of Paris. They moved on to the resort town of Sulphur Springs, which is in Ohio County, Kentucky.

Our journal’s author may have had relatives to visit at Sulpher Springs as well. In 1829, there was another living in Sulpher Springs by the name of William Campbell, a 76-year old pensioner who had served in Lea’s Legion in the Revolutionary War. There are also Howell, Johnsons, and Calloway families here, which are also friends and neighbors in St. Charles, County, which is their destination. It is a resort town, named for its famous spring, reputed to have the gift for healing people.

The enslaved population of Kentucky amounted to 24% in 1830. As a border state positioned between free states to the north and fellow slave owning states to the south, with both independent, hardscrabble white farming families as well as plantations like those of the deep south, Kentucky had economic ties to both slavery, engagement with northern free state industrialism and also western frontier ethos. Like Missouri, Kentucky entered the Union as a state deeply divided over the issue of slavery. The conflicting pulls of northern economic relations, westward expansion, and fundamental support for slavery and southern-style plantations caused Kentuckians to be morally divided over the issue of slavery before, during, and immediately after the Civil War. Though loyal to the Union during the Civil War, the majority of Kentucky didn’t see a profound need to end slavery.

Today

In that era of primitive transportation, the Allegheny Mountains posed the greatest barrier to westward expansion. The two principal routes were overland from Baltimore to Redstone on the Monongahela River via the National Road; or by the Forbes Road from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh. At the end of these two overland treks, the settlers bought or constructed boats and rafts and continued their journey by water.
            The flatboat was the cheapest of the many types of boats used and became the standard conveyance for families moving west. All of the boats in this period were hand-powered, with poles or oars for steering, and usually floated with the current. They were not intended for round trips since the settlers used them only to get to their new homes and then broken them up for their lumber.
            This situation changed dramatically in 1811 with the launching of the first steamboat on the western waters, the New Orleans, which was built near Pittsburgh. Steamboats made it possible to increase the speed of the trip downriver and made the return trip easier. Commerce on the rivers increased and by the end of 1835 more than 650 steamboats had been built in the west, including 304 in the vicinity of Pittsburgh.
            However, the conditions of the rivers made navigation difficult. Shifting sand bars, snags and rocks combined with seasonally fluctuating river depths made river travel dangerous. Mark Twain has immortalized the era of the river pilots who were required to memorize every foot of the river in order to steer the steamboats safely through the many hazards. Even so, boats were wrecked and the increasing amount of trade on the rivers made navigating safely on them of primary importance. River users demanded the federal government step in and improve the rivers.
            The first steps were taken in 1824, with an act of Congress authorizing the removal of snags and sandbars from the Mississippi and Ohio rivers. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was put in charge of this work.
            In the year following, hazards were removed from the river and travel became safer, but the problem of low water remained. State and local governments and private companies attempted to solve this problem but they lacked the resources or the jurisdiction to undertake the massive project.
(1)

(1) The above was taken from a great blog about the history of this area http://ohiocountykentuckyhistory.blogspot.com/

Archer was born enslaved by the Alexander family in Rockbridge County Virginia in 1806. In 1829, the Alexander family moved from Virginia to Dardenne Prairie in Saint Charles County, in Missouri. He lived there enslaved for over thirty years, working first in the brickyards of St. Louis, and then as a carpenter. By 1844, he had been sold to David Pitman, while his wife Louisa lived a few miles away. In the winter of 1863, Archer would risk his life to inform the Union Army that his owner had sabotaged the nearby railroad bridge. With his owner and a lynch mob in pursuit, he used a well known route of the Underground Railroad, to make his way to St. Louis. There he was taken in by William Greenleaf Eliot, a Unitarian minister, founder of Washington University, and a member of the Western Sanitary Commission. When Eliot’s close friend James Yeatman shared Charlotte Scott’s dream for a memorial to Lincoln in 1865, it would be another American hero Archer Alexander seen rising from his broken shackles alongside Lincoln on the Emancipation Monument in 1876. Today, the Emancipation Monument in Washington, D.C.’s Lincoln Park is in danger of being removed. This Federal Monument, was paid for entirely by the former enslaved people, as a memorial to President Lincoln. To sign the petition to keep it in place see https://www.change.org/EmancipationMonumentDC

*This is the journal of William Campbell (1805-1849) leading four families from Lexington, in Rockbridge County, Virginia to St. Charles County Missouri, written in 1829. There are 55 people in this caravan, 25 of which are enslaved. Among the enslaved is Archer Alexander.\This journal is located in the collections of the Leyburn Library, Special Collections and Archives, located at the Washington and Lee University, in Lexington, Virginia, and for which we are deeply indebted to Lisa McCown. Editor and author is Dorris Keeven-Franke.

The next entry in Campbell’s journal is September 16, 1829. https://archeralexander.wordpress.com/2020/09/16/16-september-1829/

14 September 1829 – Nineteenth Entry

William Campbell was a young attorney, in search of a place to set up a law practice in the future. The weather has become rainy, and the terrain is very rough, with only small settlements. Determined to see the Courthouse in every County Seat along the way, he has moved on to Clarksburg, Kentucky…

In passing through Lewis County we saw a poor broken country. The county seat is called Clarksburg a miserable village of 8 families with a log courthouse and jail..*

Campbell had halted the caravan in the small village of Vanceburg, Kentucky (See September 13 Entry) in Lewis County for rest, and because it was Sunday. On Monday, the group has moved slightly forward…. to Clarksburg, a community only about a mile west in 1829, and probably because it was the County Seat at that time. Clarksburg was named for William Clark and was the seat of Lewis County (named for Meriwether Lewis) from 1809 to 1864, when the seat was then moved to Vanceburg. The Lewis County Court House Post Office was opened in 1811, and was renamed Clarksburg in 1820. Lewis County has more border with the Ohio River than any other County in Kentucky.

Kentucky became a State on June 1, 1792

The area presently bounded by Kentucky state lines was a part of the U.S. State of Virginia, known as Kentucky County when the British colonies separated themselves in the American Revolutionary War. In 1780, the Virginia legislature divided the previous Kentucky County into three smaller units: Fayette, Jefferson, and Lincoln. In 1791, this area was separated into the State of Kentucky; it became effective on June 1, 1792. From that time, the original three counties were divided several times. A portion of Fayette County was split off as Bourbon County in 1785; a portion of Bourbon was split off as Mason County in 1788; in 1806 the present Lewis County was split off from Mason. 

Today

Lewis County’s County Seat is Vanceburg. Clarksburg is a mile to the southwest.

Archer was born enslaved by the Alexander family in Rockbridge County Virginia in 1806. In 1829, the Alexander family moved from Virginia to Dardenne Prairie in Saint Charles County, in Missouri. He lived there enslaved for over thirty years, working first in the brickyards of St. Louis, and then as a carpenter. By 1844, he had been sold to David Pitman, while his wife Louisa lived a few miles away. In the winter of 1863, Archer would risk his life to inform the Union Army that his owner had sabotaged the nearby railroad bridge. With his owner and a lynch mob in pursuit, he used a well known route of the Underground Railroad, to make his way to St. Louis. There he was taken in by William Greenleaf Eliot, a Unitarian minister, founder of Washington University, and a member of the Western Sanitary Commission. When Eliot’s close friend James Yeatman shared Charlotte Scott’s dream for a memorial to Lincoln in 1865, it would be another American hero Archer Alexander seen rising from his broken shackles alongside Lincoln on the Emancipation Monument in 1876. Today, the Emancipation Monument in Washington, D.C.’s Lincoln Park is in danger of being removed. This Federal Monument, was paid for entirely by the former enslaved people, as a memorial to President Lincoln. To sign the petition to keep it in place see https://www.change.org/EmancipationMonumentDC

*This is the journal of William Campbell (1805-1849) leading four families from Lexington, in Rockbridge County, Virginia to St. Charles County Missouri, written in 1829. There are 55 people in this caravan, 25 of which are enslaved. Among the enslaved is Archer Alexander.\This journal is located in the collections of the Leyburn Library, Special Collections and Archives, located at the Washington and Lee University, in Lexington, Virginia, and for which we are deeply indebted to Lisa McCown. Editor and author is Dorris Keeven-Franke.

The next entry in Campbell’s journal is September 15, 1829. https://archeralexander.wordpress.com/2020/09/15/15-september-1829/

13 September 1829 – Eighteenth Entry

from the journal of William Campbell of Lexington, Virginia…with the slave Archer Alexander… writes…

It being Sunday we laid by to rest man and horses, Rain in the morning. Crossed the river in a skiff and took a walk in the great free State of Ohio.*

Campbell has halted the caravan in the small village of Vanceburg, Kentucky, in Lewis County. Its’ raining and the group needs rest, however Campbell also uses the day to visit “the great free State of Ohio” and attend church. He takes a quick boat ride across the river and visits the First Presbyterian Church in Portsmouth, Ohio. This is a large town with residents who are anti-slavery protagonists, free blacks, and on the route of the Underground Railroad. From when the town was first platted in 1803, the Presbyterians had been meeting there. In 1816, they began using the same building as the State of Ohio’s Scioto County Court, for their meetings, along with those that were Methodist, or Baptist faiths. The Alexander, McCluer, Wilson and Icenhower families in this caravan were of the Presbyterian faith. However Vanceburg is only a small trifling village in 1829, with fourteen families, and there isn’t a church there.

Archer, Louisa, and the other enslaved will be kept in, and will remain in Kentucky. For them the day of rest would still include the child care, cooking, necessary washing and mending, and any repairs needed to the wagons. The horses, cattle and oxen still need to be fed. If they were lucky, they would be allowed a little relaxation, and time to visit with each other. The horses had more rest than the enslaved did.

Today

Vanceburg, Kentucky

City of Vanceburg’s Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/vanceburgvoice

Portsmouth, Ohio

1847 view of Portsmouth Ohio from Kentucky by Henry Howe OHS AL04029.jpg

Another resource today is the Southern Ohio Museum in Portsmouth, Ohio http://www.somacc.com/information/

Archer was born enslaved by the Alexander family in Rockbridge County Virginia in 1806. In 1829, the Alexander family moved from Virginia to Dardenne Prairie in Saint Charles County, in Missouri. He lived there enslaved for over thirty years, working first in the brickyards of St. Louis, and then as a carpenter. By 1844, he had been sold to David Pitman, while his wife Louisa lived a few miles away. In the winter of 1863, Archer would risk his life to inform the Union Army that his owner had sabotaged the nearby railroad bridge. With his owner and a lynch mob in pursuit, he used a well known route of the Underground Railroad, to make his way to St. Louis. There he was taken in by William Greenleaf Eliot, a Unitarian minister, founder of Washington University, and a member of the Western Sanitary Commission. When Eliot’s close friend James Yeatman shared Charlotte Scott’s dream for a memorial to Lincoln in 1865, it would be another American hero Archer Alexander seen rising from his broken shackles alongside Lincoln on the Emancipation Monument in 1876. Today, the Emancipation Monument in Washington, D.C.’s Lincoln Park is in danger of being removed. This Federal Monument, was paid for entirely by the former enslaved people, as a memorial to President Lincoln. To sign the petition to keep it in place see https://www.change.org/EmancipationMonumentDC

*This is the journal of William Campbell (1805-1849) leading four families from Lexington, in Rockbridge County, Virginia to St. Charles County Missouri, written in 1829. There are 55 people in this caravan, 25 of which are enslaved. Among the enslaved is Archer Alexander.\This journal is located in the collections of the Leyburn Library, Special Collections and Archives, located at the Washington and Lee University, in Lexington, Virginia, and for which we are deeply indebted to Lisa McCown. Editor and author is Dorris Keeven-Franke.

The next entry in Campbell’s journal is September 14, 1829. https://archeralexander.wordpress.com/2020/09/14/14-september-1829/

21 August 1829 – Second entry

On this date, this is the journal entry of William M. Campbell. This is also the story of Archer Alexander, an enslaved man born in Lexington, Virginia, taken to Missouri in 1829, who is with President Lincoln on the Emancipation Monument in Washington, D.C. today. Our story began on August 20th in Rockbridge County Virginia with four families, the McCluer, Alexander, Wilson and Icenhauer, and their enslaved. They were well-educated, whose fathers had fought for America’s Independence. These were families that had small farms and large plantations, worked by their enslaved, just as many generations had before them. Missouri was a young state with lots of inexpensive land that would allow these families to continue the only way of life they had known since 1619. Fifty people, both black and white would make this journey together…

Took a final leave of all my fathers family and turned our faces toward the West. We found the roads very bad and of course traveled slowly. Crossed the North Mountain and at noon ate a harty meal of bread, beef and cheese at a spring on the side of Mill Mountain. Fed at Williams and started for Warm Springs about 3 o’clock. We had not proceeded more than two hundred yards before we broke a singletree and were detained until almost night to have a new one made. Then drove four miles to Stewards. Fared well on a plenty of plain substantial food. (William Campbell)

Photo by Dorris Keeven-Franke

20 August 2020 It is incredible to believe the demands that the terrain must have made on these people. If you leave Lexington on Maury River Road, which is Highway 39, you will encounter beautiful mountain sides, with steep valleys, which the river flows through. In 1829, the caravan would have followed the rivers. This will take you through Goshen, and you will end up in the quaint Warm Springs. The springs were thought to provide cures for all kinds of ailments, but also provided relaxation for those that could afford the luxury. Rock Castle, the home of Samuel LeGrand Campbell and his wife Sally Alexander, the parents of William Massilon Campbell is still standing, as seen in this photo (below) with Keith Alexander, a descendant of Archer Alexander. Located on the banks of Whistle Creek, opposite the location of the Old Monmouth Presbyterian Church and the Old Monmouth Cemetery. Samuel was a Presbyterian elder, a physician and a President of today’s Washington and Lee University.

Rock Castle, estate of Samuel LeGrand Campbell with Keith Alexander, the great-great-great grandson of Archer Alexander (photo by Dorris Keeven-Franke)

The journal’s author is twenty-four year old William Massilon Campbell, born in Lexington, Virginia. His family were descendants of Duncan Campbell who had come from Ireland “between 1730 and 1740, emigrated to Pennsylvania and thence to Augusta County Virginia.” (1) His grandfather, Col. Charles Campbell, was an officer in the Revolution, a member of the General Assembly, and a Trustee of Liberty Hall. (2) Campbell graduated in 1825 with a degree in law. Campbell’s sister Sophia Alexander Campbell (1795-1867) married Dr. Robert McClure (1762-1834) another Alumni of Liberty Hall. They and their five children, Jeanette Campbell McClure (1817-1880), Samuel Campbell McClure (1821-1888), John Missouri McClure (1822-1834), Susan McClure (1827-1833), and Sallie Campbell McClure (1829-1833) were also members of the caravan with their thirteen enslaved. Dr. Robert McClure’s sister, Nancy (1791-1833) was married to James Harvey Alexander (1789-1834) son of John Alexander (1764-1828) and Sarah Gibson (1768-1823) and grandson of Archibald Alexander whose family were members of the Fallen Timbers Presbyterian Church, near Lexington. The Alexander’s enslaved seven people, one male under ten, one male between the age of 24 and 35, two females under ten, and five females between the ages of ten and twenty-three. Between the two families of the McClures and Alexanders, they owned all but four of the enslaved on the journey. James Wilson, who had married Mary Borden, the evening before the departure, owned four people, a young woman between the age of 24 and 35, and her three children under ten, two boys and one girl.

There are 38 entries in Campbell’s journal, that you can read and follow the story of Archer Alexander in 1829. The next journal entry is dated 22 August 1829.To read it click here https://archeralexander.wordpress.com/2019/07/25/entry-3-from-virginia-to-missouri/ Campbell’s journal is located in the Archives at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia and is being shared here so that we may hear all the voices, including those whose voices were not shared originally. Please keep in mind the context of the time in which this journal was written. Feel free to share your comments directly on this blog or on Archer Alexander’s Facebook page. You may sign up for alerts of the blog posts on your left.

Sources

(1) The Campbell Clan of Virginia by Leslie Lyle Campbell, Washington and Lee University, Special Collections of the Leyburn Library

(2) Washington and Lee University was founded in 1749 and was originally Augusta Academy, and became Liberty Hall following the Revolution. Liberty Hall is said to have admitted its first African-American student when John Chavis, a free black enrolled in 1795. Chavis accomplished much in his life including fighting in the American Revolution,  studying at both Liberty Hall and the College of New Jersey, now Princeton University, becoming an ordained Presbyterian minister, and opening a school that instructed white and poor black students in North Carolina. He is believed to be the first black student to enroll in higher education in the United States.

Photo by Dorris Keeven-Franke

20 August 1829 – First entry

From Virginia to Missouri

Missouri became a state in 1821. The French had brought “the black code” which was their laws regarding slaves, with them back in the 1760s when they had settled St. Louis and St. Charles. By the time America purchased  the Louisiana Territory in 1804, families like Daniel Boone had already settled there with their slaves. And by 1821, the great compromise of Henry Clay would allow the continued institution of slavery, brought by families like Bates and Pitman.

In 1829, over fifty people from Virginia, both black and white would fill a caravan from Lexington, in Rockbridge County and head for Dardenne Township in St. Charles County Missouri. This is their story, as taken from the Journal of William Campbell, who first settled on the Boone’s Lick Road. If you look closely  and listen, you might hear the voices of the enslaved. Follow their journey, along the way babies will be born and children will die. More would join them in Kentucky and others will depart in Ohio. They were headed to the land of opportunity, and what the Germans called the Garden of Eden.

This is the story of an enslaved man, born in Rockbridge Virginia, taken to Missouri in 1829, who is on the Emancipation Monument in Washington, D.C. today named Archer Alexander. Our story begins on August 20th of 1829 in the beautiful valleys of Virginia. Where several well-educated families whose fathers had fought for independence had lived for several generations. There were many families that had small farms and large plantations which would be worked by their enslaved, just as many generations had before them, back as far as 1619. Missouri was a young state with cheap land that would allow these families, both black and white, to continue the only lifestyle they knew. Four families, yet over fifty people, both black and white would make a journey from Virginia to Missouri, beginning on August 20th.

I started from Lexington, Virginia on a journey to the state of Missouri. My own object in going to that remote section of the Union was to seek a place where I might obtain an honest livelihood by the practice of law. I travel in company with four families containing about fifty individuals, white and black. The first family is that of Dr. McCluer, his wife (my sister) and five children from six months to thirteen years old and fourteen negro servants. Two young men, McNutt and Cummings, and myself form a part of the traveling family of Dr. McCluer. Dr. McCluer leaves a lucrative practice and proposes settling himself in St. Charles County Missouri on a fine farm which he has purchased about 36 miles from St. Louis. The second family is that of James H. Alexander, who married a sister of Dr. McCluer, with five children and seven negro slaves. Intends farming in Missouri. Third family, James Wilson, a young man who is to be married this night to a pretty young girl and start off in four days to live one thousand miles from her parents. He has four or five negroes. Fourth family, Jacob Icenhoward, an honest, poor, industrious Dutchman with several children and a very aged father in law whom he is taking at great trouble to Missouri, to keep him from becoming a county charge. He has labored his life time here and made nothing more than a subsistence and has determined to go to a country where the substantial comforts of life are more abundant.

Our caravan when assembled will consist of four wagons, two carryalls, one Barouche and several horses, cows and fifty people. Two of Dr. McCluer’s children are in Charleston, Kenahwa, with their Uncle Calhoun. Our caravan will not start until the 25th of August. But I, with my sister and nurse will proceed forthwith in the Barouche to Charleston, Kenawha, where we will await the arrival of the caravan. This evening we left Lexington, our native town; possibly never to see it again.

I bid adieu to numerous friends and acquaintances, all of whom professes to wish me well. Many of them sincerely, some of them from the bottom of their hearts, some deceitfully and others with indifference. I parted from many whom I respected and esteem highly. I left a numerous tribe of relatives and many old friends. Many requested me to write to them and give them an account of the country and numbers intimated a hope of coming to Missouri in a few years. We came three miles to the residence of my aged father and mother with whom we stay all night, perhaps for the last time. Tomorrow morning we will start in our barouche for Warm Springs…

The group of over fifty travelers would have twenty-five enslaved individuals, including Archer, between the four families of the Alexanders, McCluers, Icenhaurs and the Wilsons. Among the enslaved there were six boys under the age of ten, three young males between ten and twenty-three, two young men between twenty-four and thirty-six, and one older man between thirty-six and fifty-four. There were also four little girls under the age of ten, seven young women of child-bearing age between ten and twenty-three, two older women still of child-bearing age between twenty-four and thirty-six, and one older woman also between the age of thirty-six and fifty-four. Among these was Archer’s newborn son Wesley, and his mother Louisa the black nurse for the McClure’s newborn baby Sally McClure.

AUGUST 20, 2020 The Rockbridge County Historical Society (below) is located in the Campbell House c. 1845 and has an excellent and helpful staff. We thank Eric Wilson for his help. The Timber Ridge Presbyterian Church (below) is where both the Alexander and McCluer family were members and were buried. This church was begun by the father of Sam Houston. The Alexander family still lives near Cherry Grove which was the former home of James McDowell, grandfather of Jessie Benton Fremont, and where she spent much of her time growing up.

Rockbridge County Historical Society in Lexington Virginia. (Photo by Dorris Keeven-Franke)
Timber Ridge Presbyterian Church in Lexington, Virginia (Photo by Dorris Keeven-Franke)

There are 38 entries to Campbell’s journal, that you can read on this blog that will be posted on the dates of their entry and follow the story of Archer exactly 191 years ago. The next entry is dated August 21, 1829. Here is the link https://archeralexander.wordpress.com/2020/08/21/21-august-1829-second-entry/ Campbell’s journal is located in the Archives at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia and is being shared here so that we may hear all the voices, including those whose voices were not shared originally. Please keep in mind the context of the time in which this journal was written. Feel free to share your comments directly on the blog or today’s Facebook page. You may sign up for alerts of future blog posts on this website.

Liberty Hall at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia (Photo by Dorris Keeven-Franke)

Stop removing our history

Stop Congress from removing the Emancipation Monument from our Nation’s Capitol. Add your name to the Petition today. This is the only memorial entirely paid for by thousands of formerly enslaved and U.S. Colored Troops in our Nation’s capitol. https://www.change.org/EmancipationMonumentDC

Emancipation Monument or Freedom’s Memorial is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and located in Lincoln Park, the first public park in Washington, D.C.

Freedom’s Memorial, also known as the Emancipation Monument in Lincoln Park in Washington, D.C. has a plaque that reads “in grateful memory of Abraham Lincoln this monument was erected by the Western Sanitary Commission. of Saint Louis Mo: with funds contributed solely by emancipated citizens of the United States declared free by his proclamation January 1st A.D. 1863. The first contributionof five dollars was made by Charlotte Scott, a freed woman of Virginia being her first earnings in freedom and consecrated by her suggestion and request on the day she heard of President Lincoln’s death to build a monument to his memory.

For the full story of the Monument see https://archeralexander.wordpress.com/the-monument/

Contact your Congressperson or Eleanore Holmes Norton about HR7466 https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/7466/all-actions?r=2&s=9&q=%7B%22search%22%3A%5B%22HR7466%22%5D%7D

Rockbridge County Virginia

Archer Alexander was born enslaved in Rockbridge County Virginia, taken to Saint Charles County in Missouri in 1829, and lies buried in St. Louis where he fled to in 1863. In 1876, he would break his own chains and rise alongside Lincoln, on the Emancipation Memorial in Washington, D.C. In 1880, he died an unknown hero.

In 1806, Archer Alexander was born the enslaved property of John Alexander, a Lexington landowner, farmer and Presbyterian Elder . When his father died in 1828, James Alexander would inherit his property, and in 1829 take Archer to Missouri, where he settled on Dardenne Prairie in St. Charles County. When James Alexander died, Archer would be sold to Richard H. Pitman. In 1863, Archer would learn that Pitman, and other area men, had sabotaged the Peruque Creek Bridge timbers and stored arms in Campbell’s icehouse. He knew what he had to do. Running five miles on that cold February night, he warned the Union troops of the danger just in time. But the slave patrol was soon out to lynch him!

In July 2019, Archer Alexander’s great-great-great grandson Keith Winstead and author Dorris Keeven-Franke visited Lexington and the Rockbridge Historical Society in Virginia. There they would meet Eric Wilson, Lisa McCowan, visit the homesites and cemeteries of the Alexanders, McCluers and Campbells, retracing Archer’s first twenty-three years. Their journey was recently chronicled in the The News-Gazette article The Face of Freedom by Eric Wilson. He shares it here https://www.thenews-gazette.com/content/face-freedom

John Alexander 28 July 1764 – 28 October 1828 Timber Ridge Presbyterian Church graveyard

On July 1, 2020 Eleanore Holmes Norton would put forth a bill to remove the Emancipation Monument in Washington, D.C.. Please consider signing the Change.org petition to see that the memorial which was paid for by the former enslaved, remains in Lincoln Park where they erected it in 1876. https://www.change.org/EmancipationMonumentDC

Freedom

“Now I’m free! I thank the good Lord that he has delivered me from all my troubles, and I’ve lived to see this.” Such were the words of Archer Alexander when he saw the photograph of himself on the Emancipation Monument, which was to be dedicated in 1876 by the great orator Frederick Douglass in Lincoln Park on the 11th Anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. Totally paid for by the former enslaved people of America. The first such monument in Washington, D.C. and the first ever to feature Lincoln with the people he saw achieve their freedom. Our treasured right that we all celebrate today!

In 1885, William Greenleaf Eliot, a Unitarian minister and founder of Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri  would be the first biographer of Archer Alexander. As a member of the Western Sanitary Commission he would announce  “Soon after Mr. Lincoln’s assassination, Charlotte Scott, an emancipated slave, brought five dollars to her former master, Mr. William P. Rucker, then a Union refugee from Virginia… It was her first earnings as a free woman, and she begged that it might be used “to make a monument to Massa Lincoln, the best friend the colored people ever had…

Mr. Rucker placed it in the hands of General T. H. C. Smith, who forwarded it to Mr. James E. Yeatman, president of the Western Sanitary Commission of St. Louis …The suggestion was cordially accepted, and a circular letter was published inviting all freedmen to send contributions for the purpose to the Commission in St. Louis. In response, liberal sums were received from colored soldiers …which was soon increased from other sources to $16,242… In the capitol grounds at Washington, D.C., there is a bronze group known as Freedom’s Memorial… It represents President Lincoln in the act of emancipating a negro slave, who kneels at his feet to receive the benediction, but whose hand has grasped the chain as if in the act of breaking it, indicating the historical fact that the slaves took active part in their own deliverance…

I have felt as proud of the long-continued friendship and confidence of Archer Alexander as of any one I have known. He was, I believe, the last fugitive slave taken in Missouri under the old laws of slavery. His freedom came directly from the hand of President Lincoln, by provost-marshal authority, and his own hands had helped to break the chains that bound him. His oldest son had given his life to the cause. When I showed to him the photographic picture of the Freedom’s Memorial monument, soon after its inauguration in Washington, and explained to him its meaning, and that he would thus be remembered in connection with Abraham Lincoln, the emancipator of his race, he …exclaimed, … “Now I’se free! I thank the good Lord that he has ‘livered me from all my troubles, and I’se lived to see this.” wrote Eliot in From Slavery to Freedom, Archer Alexander published in Boston in 1885.

Today, this monument and its’ history is in danger of being lost. There are those that cannot see this through the eyes of that time because they have not heard the voices of their ancestors. Help us to recall this point in our nation’s history, to be able to teach our children today, and for future generations what a slave rising in freedom looks like. Please consider signing our Petition to Congress to preserve the Emancipation Monument at https://www.change.org/EmancipationMonumentDC

William Greenleaf Eliot. Photograph by unknown, no date Missouri History Museum Photograph and Print Collection. Portraits n38667

An American Hero

While the nation discusses matters of monumental importance, in Missouri, Archer Alexander is really a ‘local’ and also a hero. He was born in Rockbridge County Virginia near Lexington. In 1829, he moved to St. Charles County, albeit unwillingly as he was enslaved. His owner at that time, James Alexander was joining many of his relatives that had helped create the young state in 1821, like the Bates. As in Lincoln’s Attorney General Edward Bates. By 1844, Archer would find himself the property of Richard Pitman, who lived on the Boone’s Lick Road near where it crosses Dardenne Creek. Missouri was a slave state, but the demographics would change by the time of the Civil War, and its many German emigrants would help to keep it for the Union Army.

Krekel’s Home Guards were Union Troops stationed to guard the Peruque Creek Bridge

One cold February night in 1863, Archer would hear his owner and several other area men, discussing their plot. They had been sawing the wooden timbers of the nearby railroad bridge, where it crossed the Peruque Creek, and it would only be a matter of time now. Perhaps it would be “the next train” that would collapse the bridge and the vital link for the Union Army between St. Louis and the west. Knowing what a risk he was taking, Archer Alexander, took off at a run five miles to the north where Lt. Col. Krekel’s Home Guards were posted in the blockhouse. His warning would save hundreds of lives, while making him the target for a lynch mob. Fleeing for his life, leaving his wife and family behind, he made his way to St. Louis, and the home of William Greenleaf Eliot.

Eliot was a Unitarian minister and had founded Washington University, but even more importantly, he was a member of the Western Sanitary Commission. Charged by Lincoln, to assist troops west of the Appalachian mountains setting up hospitals and providing necessary supplies. It was not government run but relied totally on donations, which came from as far as the great city of Boston. When the war ended, tensions in America was high, and the best friend of the colored people, Abraham Lincoln was assassinated.

A formerly enslaved woman in Ohio, named Charlotte Scott, took the first money she ever made as a free person, and gave it to her former owner. She dreamed of a great monument to Lincoln. That money was deposited with the Western Sanitary Commission, which had worked with the fugitive slaves, contraband camps, the Freedmen’s Bureau, and the U.S. Colored Troops. Thousands of formerly enslaved people would give their hard earned money to see Charlotte Scott’s dream become a reality in 1876.

Through Eliot and the Western Sanitary Commission, the formerly enslaved would see Archer Alexander as a man who by his own deeds, like thousands of others of the formerly enslaved, had broken his own chains.  Archer can still be seen today, rising from his knees, his shackles broken, looking up towards Lincoln. Archer Alexander is no longer just a local, as he rises next to Lincoln on the Emancipation Memorial today, in Lincoln Park in Washington, D.C.. Please sign the Petition to save the monument https://www.change.org/EmancipationMonumentDC

Save the Emancipation Memorial in DC

When President Lincoln was assassinated because he had freed the slaves, Archer Alexander was definitely already worthy of the honor, to be portrayed by the great man’s side. Archer Alexander’s warning to the Union troops, about the efforts to sabotage a Union Army railroad bridge, saved hundreds of lives. He had worked to break his own chains of bondage and is rising to meet President Lincoln who is acknowledging this hero.

Charlotte Scott had a dream to honor President Abraham Lincoln “the best friend the colored people ever had”. This great monument was entirely funded by thousands of formerly enslaved people, freedmen, and soldiers of the United States Colored Troops. This was the beginning of the end of slavery. We believe it should remain as a testimony to how far America has come, and to honor the sacrifices of those that gave to see this monument made. This memorial to Lincoln should matter to all Americans, as we cannot erase its history. Let those that feel pain, learn the truth of its great history, and only use this monument to teach and inspire future generations, as its’ original creators in 1865 intended.  

It is said that those that do not know their history, are doomed to repeat it. Let us all rise up, by learning the truth of our history. Our ancestors, fought side by side to put an end to slavery. There are those of us that are willing to stand side by side, to once again raise our voices and take a risk for something we all believe in. Its’ time to remember our true history. To save this monument will further acknowledge and lead to a better understanding of President Abraham Lincoln and Archer Alexander. 

PLEASE CONSIDER SIGNING OUR PETITION https://www.change.org/EmancipationMonumentDC

Bronze plaque on the “Freedom Memorial” in Lincoln Park in Washington, D.C.
Archer Alexander is the Great Great Great Grandfather of Muhammad Ali

Keep the Emancipation Memorial Statue

What is a monument? Merriam-Webster Dictionary: says a lasting evidence, reminder, or example of someone or something notable or great (2) a distinguished person (b) a memorial stone or a building erected in remembrance of a person or event. Public monuments everywhere are being removed because some find them offensive. Do they know the history of these monuments? And before the desire to remove the Emancipation/Freedom monument in one of our Nation’s most historic cities succeeds, I would like to share with you a petition to KEEP THE EMANCIPATION MEMORIAL STATUE by the great-great-great grandson of the enslaved man rising on the monument. His name is Keith Winstead.

The EMANCIPATION monument in Boston was placed there in 1879, as a tribute to the citizens of that City.  A replica of the Freedom (Emancipation) Memorial in Washington, D.C., is located in Lincoln Park. The first monument was dedicated in 1876 on the 11th Anniversary of  Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, April 14th, 1865. When the formerly enslaved Charlotte Scott heard the news of President Lincoln’s death, she took the first five dollars in money she had earned as a free woman, and gave them to her former master Mr. William P. Rucker a Union refugee from Virginia, who lived in Marietta Ohio then.  She asked him “to make a monument to Massa Lincoln, the best friend the colored people ever had“*.  Rucker would take those funds to the Western Sanitary Commission who said,  Would it not be well to take up this suggestion and make it known to the freedmen?“* A member of the Commission, William Greenleaf Eliot would share it with many of the benefactors of the Freedmen’s Bureau, who by 1866 had helped raise $12,150, and then to $16,242.  Today that would be equal to over $130,000. Those benefactors were the former enslaved of America.

President Abraham Lincoln whose Emancipation Proclamation freed the enslaved.

“In the Capitol grounds at Washington, DC there is a bronze group known as Freedoms Memorial. It represents President Lincoln in the act of emancipating a negro slave, who kneels at his feet to receive his benediction, but whose hand has grasped the chain as if in the act of breaking it, indicating the historical fact that the slaves took active part in their own deliverance.”*

William Greenleaf Eliot, had helped create the Western Sanitary Commission, which was originally established to aid Union and United State Colored Troops hospitals and camps sick, and wounded troops. It was established by Major-General Fremont for the care and relief of Union refugees, of fugitive slaves, and those families. In today’s term it was a non-governmental organization, similar to our American Red Cross during the Civil War. Its funds came in the form of donations, and the largest amount of donations came from Boston. In 1865, when the monument was conceived, the former enslaved Archer Alexander, who is depicted on the monument was living in Eliot’s home.

Who was Keith Winstead’s ancestor Archer Alexander? In 1863, he was a man who chose to do the right thing. When he overheard his master plotting to sabotage the local railroad bridge, he risked being lynched and reported it. He fled from St Charles County to St. Louis, where he was taken into the home of Eliot, who worked to see Archey emancipated. Eliot wrote “His freedom came directly from the hand of President Lincoln”. When Archey saw a picture of the final monument his words were “Now I’se free.”*

*All quotes are from The Story of Archer Alexander from Slavery to Freedom published in Boston, by Cupples, Upham and Company, in 1885 and sold at the Old Corner Bookstore. Written by William G. Eliot, a Unitarian minister and founder of Washington University in St. Louis, Mo.

To join those wanting to see this monument and the history of the time it represents please sign the petition: Keep the Emancipation Memorial go to https://www.ipetitions.com/petition/keep-the-the-emancipation-memorialfreedman-statue?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=&quote_id=quote3&title_id=title3&recruiter=15890036&loc=thank-you-page

Freedom’s Memorial – In Grateful Memory of Abraham Lincoln This Monument was erected by the Western Sanitary Commission of St. Louis, MO: with funds contributed solely by Emancipated Citizens of the United States declared free by his Proclamation January 1st, 1863. The first contribution of five dollars was Charlotte Scott A Freed Woman of Virginia being her first earnings in freedom and consecrated by her suggestion and request on the day she heard of President Lincoln’s death to build a monument to his memory.

Dorris Keeven-Franke and Keith Winstead in front of the Freedom (Emancipation) Memorial in Lincoln Park in Washington, D.C. Keith Winstead is a descendant of Archer Alexander the slave rising. Archer Alexander is also the ancestor of Keith Winstead’s cousin, Muhammad Ali.

Eyes of the Time

What is history? Can it be a monument? Our mothers collect lockets of hair, baby teeth, report cards and hand drawn valentines. A family historian collects old photos and obituaries of as many generations they can.  A company compiles an Annual Report of its greatest achievements for its stockholders. A city will name its’ streets after its’ most famous residents and create museums that share its history. Even our Presidents give us their annual Report to the Nation. We do these things in order to have tangible evidence and records of an event or a person in history, at a certain moment in time. And they help us to listen, recall, and think. They  help us to know, understand and share the story of how far we have come.

In 1865, our nation was ending a most horrible period in its great history. The horrible but “peculiar” institution we know as slavery had ended. Hundreds of thousands of families had lost their husband, father, brother or son, in order for this to happen. They had been led through the crisis by a simple man who lived by creed “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Then he was brutally assassinated. Our country’s former enslaved people wanted to erect a monument to this great man. A woman named Charlotte Rucker took the first money she ever made as a free person, to her former owner, and asked for his help. She wanted to see a monument of that man President Abraham Lincoln.

Emancipation Memorial

The same people who had helped the slaves before, would help them once again. It would take years, but in 1876, with the help of the Western Sanitary Commission, that monument would become a reality. That simple bronze monument, with two figures, a tall white man, and a black man rising on one knee, alongside him. The first ever to include a black person in our Nation’s Capital. It would share that man, with the Emancipation Proclamation at his elbow, leaning benevolently over a slave who had broken his own shackles, suggesting that the slave rise! The time had come for the former slave Archer Alexander to stand and take his place alongside him. That is the story of the Emancipation Memorial with Lincoln and Archer, in Lincoln Park, in Washington, D.C. Another was placed as a tribute and a thank you to the people of Boston, who had been so generous during the Civil War by the sculptor, a former resident named Thomas Ball.  

Originally published on DorrisKeevenFranke.com

Black Lives Matter

In January, of 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation “there shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except in punishment of crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted; and all persons held to service or labor as slaves are hereby declared free.” Under Lincoln’s direction, hundreds of thousands of Union soldiers gave their lives to make that statement permanent. How can we forget that? Today we say the same thing when we say Black Lives Matter yet we seek to destroy those statues and images that portray those very first steps taken. How can we know how far we have come, or judge how far we have to go, if we don’t have reminders of these facts, staring us in the face as we pass by them every day? If we destroy these monuments, how can we help our children understand our enslaved ancestors lives, or what our ancestors who fought for their emancipation sacrifices were for? The Union won, and our Country was preserved. Let our Country not be torn apart once again. Emancipation means free, not equal. That is our battle that continues today. Please don’t let us confuse the two issues in our haste. We should not eradicate those battle scars that occurred in 1865, but treasure them, as they are there to serve to remind all of us, how far we have come since then, and how far we have yet to go. Let us stop and listen to their story.

President Lincoln was assassinated because he put an end to slavery. When the formerly enslaved Charlotte Scott heard the news of President Lincoln’s death, she took the first five dollars in money she had earned as a free woman, and gave them to her former master Mr. William P. Rucker a Union refugee from Virginia, who lived in Marietta Ohio then.  She asked him “to make a monument to Massa Lincoln, the best friend the colored people ever had”. Rucker would take those funds to Gen. T.H.C. Smith, and he would make sure that they were given to Mr. James Yeatman, of who he asked “Would it not be well to.take up this suggestion and make it known to the freedmen?” And with that it would soon come under the help of the Western Sanitary Commission, with William G. Eliot at the helm. He would share it with many of the benefactors of the Freedmens Bureau, active during the Civil War.

By 1866, former U.S. Colored Troops, members of the Freedmans Bureau and others formerly enslaved, had helped raise $12,150, and then to $16,242.  (Today that would be equal to over $130,000). But times were changing and their movement was being checked, this was Reconstruction. A photograph had been provided to Thomas Ball a sculptor from Boston Massachusetts who had studied abroad and moved his studio to Italy. He and Eliot were friends and in 1870, they would meet in Ball’s studio. Eliot would explain how things were proceeding for the monument in the U.S., and about the funds raised by the Western Sanitary Commission and that the funds were coming from the formerly enslaved for this, and it was to be their monument. Ball agreed that the amount of funds already collected were sufficient to cast it at the Royal Foundry in Munich. The Western Sanitary Commission also asked Ball to make changes as well. The original plan had called for a passive black man kneeling in a soldier’s cap, before Lincoln. The cap was removed and the slave was to be seen rising, breaking his own chains and taking an active part in gaining his freedom. The slave that is immortalized and represents all of slavery, is none other than that of Archer Alexander, an American hero in his own right.

Today that monument, known as the Emancipation Memorial sits in Washington, D.C. in Lincoln Park. An exact replica also sits in Boston, Massachusetts as a tribute to the people of Boston. See Emancipation Memorial for its history, and the attempts to remove it from the City’s collective memory because there are those who find it offensive as a reminder of a time when a slave was submissive. Take a closer look please, as Archer’s shackles have been broken and he is rising to stand next to Lincoln.

Editorial written by Dorris Keeven-Franke

Boston’s Emancipation Memorial

By Dorris Keeven-Franke

It is said “The farther back you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.” Just as our country is torn today with images that will hopefully be considered unbearable in 150 years, the statue of President Abraham Lincoln in Boston’s Park Square is a history lesson that shouldn’t be forgotten either. Unfortunately, its’ true story is not what some people, who feel that the statue represents submissiveness, is all about. The statue, identical to one in Lincoln Park in Washington, D.C., shares the story of America’s emancipator President Abraham Lincoln, and an American hero, Archer Alexander.

On February 28, 1863, a fifty-seven-year-old enslaved man born in Virginia and taken to Missouri when he was 23, overheard his owner Richard Pitman plotting to destroy the nearby railroad bridge. A vital link for the Union Army, Archer risked his life to run 5 miles in the dark of night to warn the troops stationed at the bridge. With a slave patrol in hot pursuit wanting to lynch him, he fled to St. Louis and was taken in by William Greenleaf Eliot. Eliot was a Unitarian minister who was born near Boston, and founder of Washington University, who was also head of the Western Sanitary Commission, and a friend of Lincoln’s. In 1865, when Lincoln was assassinated, a slave named Charlotte Rucker, wanted to see a memorial to “the best friend the colored people ever had.” And Eliot wanted to see Archer Alexander portray the slave breaking his own chains and rising before Lincoln.

William Greenleaf Eliot. Photograph by unknown, no date Missouri History Museum Photograph and Print Collection. Portraits n38667

In 1876, on the anniversary of Lincoln’s assassination, President U.S. Grant and Frederick Douglass dedicated Washington, D.C.’s Emancipation Memorial, which was totally funded by the former enslaved of America, with its’ fundraising coordinated through the Western Sanitary Commission. Boston’s copy was placed there as a tribute as well to Eliot, as the people of Boston were the nation’s largest contributors to the Western Sanitary Commission. That is what people of America saw when they visited your statue in the 1870s.

Left: Archer Alexander 1806-1880. Right: His descendant Muhammad Ali 1942-2016. Archer Alexander is the Great-great-great grandfather of Muhammed Ali.

Looking for descendants

In 1829, a small group of four families, Campbell, McCluer, Wilson and Alexander, all wealthy and well educated . planters from Virginia, came with their enslaved, about two dozen of them. They settled in “Dardenne” along the Booneslick Road, south of the Zumwalt place, (O’Fallon) in St. Charles County, Missouri. They were all members of the Dardenne Presbyterian Church. Alexander and his wife died during the cholera epidemic and by 1835 the enslaved were all under the management of the estate’s executor William Campbell. The enslaved would build the Campbell house on the Booneslick (Today Hwy N – just west of Hwy K) completing it in 1836 (This historic home still stands today).

At the Peruque Creek Railroad Bridge

One of the enslaved was named Archer Alexander. He was born in Rockbridge County, Virginia in 1806. He was smart man and given a lot of responsibility. He and his wife Louisa would have 10 children. By 1843, she was owned by James Naylor, who owned the mercantile, was the postmaster and was a stop on the Booneslick Road. Her husband Archer, was owned by Richard Hickman Pitman, who was a Methodist, and a member of Mt. Zion Methodist in O’Fallon. Archer was considered an uppity slave because he often talked about freedom. In February 1863, he got his chance. Knowing that his owner and several others in his neighborhood had undermined the nearby railroad, he took a brave step and informed the Union Army stationed there, that the next train to cross would most likely collapse and kill hundreds. Immediately, he was the prime suspect as the informant, and the local Slave Patrol was out to lynch Archer. Using what we call the “underground railroad” he escaped to St. Louis. There he was befriended by William Greenleaf Eliot founder of St. Louis’ Washington University who is buried at Bellefontaine Cemetery and Arboretum.

Today, Archer is the enslaved man rising and breaking his chains with President Abraham Lincoln on the Emancipation Memorial in Washington DC, in Lincoln Park. He is also the ancestor of Muhammed Ali. Seven children of Archer and Louise were born in St. Charles County, and today we are looking for descendants of them. They were all born before 1843 when their names and their values were listed as:

Archer Alexander
  • Eliza $325 married a Campbell
  • Mary Ann $300
  • Archer $225
  • James $200 married 1)Hattie Yates 2)Caroline Callaway
  • Alexander $175
  • Lucinda $150
  • John $125

Archer died Dec. 8, 1880, and is buried in St. Louis in St. Peters Cemetery. Louisa died in 1865 and is buried in St. Charles County. We know many of their children remained here, and married and have descendants living here. We are hoping that someone reads this and has heard their family story and knows they are connected. We have DNA kits for anyone who would like to test.

St. Louis

With the Missouri Compromise, Missouri entered the United States as a “slave state” in 1821. Settlement began with the French and Spanish but with the Louisiana Purchase, slave owners from Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennesee would soon fill the Missouri River valleys. With the German migration that began in the 1830s those same valley’s demographics and attitude would change tremendously, and hold Missouri for the Union. St. Louis, was a very vital, pivotal and important location and a hotbed for abolitionists.

Many of the Boone family and their friends brought their enslaved with them to Missouri.

In 1829, a small group of four families, wealthy Virginia planters would join family members who had already established themselves, with their two dozen enslaved, [For more about that trip from Virginia to Missouri see https://archeralexander.wordpress.com/2019/07/22/from-virginia-to-missouri/ ] One of which was named Archer Alexander. They settled along Dardenne Creek, in the middle of St. Charles County, but Archer would be put to work in the St. Louis brickyards. He was an uppity slave and really desired his freedom.

In February 1863, he got his chance. Knowing that his owner and several others in his neighborhood had undermined the nearby railroad, he took a brave step and informed the Union Army stationed there, that the next train to cross would most likely collapse and kill hundreds. He was the prime suspect, and the slave patrol was out to lynch him.

Using the same method as any fugitive slave, he fled to St. Louis and just happened to land in the home of William Greenleaf Eliot, a Unitarian minister. Eliot also happened to be the founder of Washington University, the Western Sanitary Commission, and a highly respected member of the St. Louis community. He was also an abolitionist. Eliot saved Archer’s life and would see that he received his freedom.

When Lincoln, a personal friend to Eliot, was assassinated, the formerly enslaved wanted a monument to Lincoln, and St. Louis’ former slave, Archer Alexander would be the one, to represent them, rising up and as Eliot says “breaking his own chains”. This man provides St. Louis and all African-Americans a reason to be proud of the monument in Lincoln Park, in Washington, D.C., today.

Archer Alexander is also the ancestor of the great Muhammad Ali. For more about Archer’s life in St. Louis see https://archeralexander.wordpress.com/st-louis/

Family Reunion of A Alexander February 2019

William Greenleaf Eliot

William Greenleaf Eliot (1811-1887) moved to St. Louis from Boston, where he was born in 1811, in 1834. He brought the Unitarian Church to St. Louis, Missouri in 1836 with the founding of the Church of the Messiah on Lucas Avenue. Also the founder of the Public School system in St. Louis, Washington University, and the Western Sanitary Commission, he was known for his views of what was referred to at that time as “gradual emancipation”which he felt would be achieved because of the huge wave of German immigrants coming to the U.S. at that time. In the 1840s, in order to keep his personal views from the Congregation, he would write under the pen name “Crises” on the difficult subject of slavery.

His home Beaumont was close enough to Camp Jackson that on the day of the event he said ““When broken up by General Lyon and the Home Guards, the rifle bullets came close to our fences”. And when the 6,000 German troops involved (the majority) with the Camp Jackson affair happened he would also write “Missouri was saved to the Union by taking Camp Jackson and the scattering of the disloyal legislature three days before an ordinance of secession would have been passed.”

Beaumont was built by Hamilton Rowan Gamble, later Governor of Missouri, and then became home of William G. Beaumont before Eliot and his family lived there. It was on Beaumont Avenue just outside the City limits of St. Louis originally.

Within two years, he would take in a Fugitive Slave from St. Charles County, and under that law, could have been jailed himself. However, he would instead assist that slave in achieving that freedom, an act that he said President Lincoln himself (who was a personal friend) helped in. Later, that same slave was immortalized when he was the face of freedom on the Emancipation Memorial in Washington, D.C. But that would not be enough of the story for Eliot, and in his last years he would pen “The Story of Archer Alexander” so that all would know the story.

Eliot’s work with the Western Sanitary Commission during the Civil War, with his close friend James Yeatman, would be the backbone for the Union Army west of the Allegheny mountains. They were the network of supplies for the military hospitals and prisons, refugees and soldiers homes. They were also key for the Freedmans Bureau, opened Freedman Schools with an important headquarters at what was called Camp Ethiopia in Helena, Arkansas. And then they opened a Colored Orphans home in St. Louis, in December of 1863. They were the first in the country to give aid to colored schools establishing a High School for African Americans in 1864 in St. Louis.

William Greenleaf Eliot and James B. Yeatman are both buried at Bellefontaine Cemetery and Arboretum in St. Louis, Missouri. Archer Alexander is buried at St. Peters U.C.C.Cemetery, on Lucas and Hunt, in St. Louis as well.

REFRAMING HISTORY

In 1885, Boston Publishers Cupples, Upham, and Company would print THE STORY OF ARCHER ALEXANDER  FROM SLAVERY TO FREEDOM March 30,  1863, BY WILLIAM G. ELIOT  A MEMBER OF THE WESTERN SANITARY COMMISSION OF ST. LOUIS, MO. Too many historians today take this book as absolute factual history when the research of primary documents reveals a different story of the life of Archer Alexander. Iver Bernstein, is a professor of history and African and African American studies at Washington University and is co-teaching the course Rethinking Wash U’s Relationship to Enslavement: Past, Present, and Future. Earlier, this year, Wash U joined Universities Studying Slavery, a consortium of more than 80 colleges and universities. Just as they have examined the life of the author William G. Eliot its’ also about time we re-examine Eliot’s book about Archer Alexander. On February 20, 1863 Eliot gave refuge to this fugitive slave, endangering his own life and the safety of his own family. On March 30, 1863, Eliot would address a letter to Archer’s owner Richard H. Pitman asking to purchase him, as he wanted to see Archer Alexander emancipated. In his book, The Story of Archer Alexander, Eliot would later write …

William G. Eliot, source WUSTL
William Greenleaf Eliot

THE following narrative was prepared without intention of publication; but I have been led to think that it may be of use, not only as a reminiscence of the “war of secession,” but as a fair presentation of slavery in the Border States for the twenty or thirty years preceding the outbreak of hostilities. I am confirmed in this view by the fact, that, on submitting the manuscript to a leading publishing-house in a Northern city, it was objected to, among other reasons, as too tame to satisfy the public taste and judgment. But, from equally intelligent parties in a city farther south, the exactly opposite criticism was made, as if a too harsh judgment of slavery and slave-holders was conveyed, so that its publication would be prejudicial to those undertaking it.

        I therefore asked the opinion of several friends, who, like myself, had lived all those years under the shadow of the “peculiar institution,” in one or other of the northern tier of the slave States, and who labored faithfully for its abolition, giving the best service of their lives to the cause of freedom, “possessing their souls in patience” while contending against what seemed to be an irresistible power. Their concurrence has confirmed me in the opinion, that, however feebly drawn, a true picture, so far as it goes, is given in these pages of the relation between master and slave, and of the social condition of slave-holding communities. Without claiming to be more than a plain story plainly told, it shows things as they were, and how they were regarded by intelligent and thoughtful people at the time.

Frontspiece

        Only those who lived in the border slave States during that eventful period from 1830 to 1860, can fully understand the complications and difficulties of the “irrepressible conflict,” and how hard it was fully to maintain one’s self-respect under the necessities of deliberate and cautious action; to speak plainly without giving such degree of offence as would prevent one from speaking at all. Yet it was in these States that the first and hardest battles for freedom were fought, and where the ground was prepared upon which the first great victories were won.

        It is a subject upon which I speak with deep feeling; for I have known many cases in which those who worked with faithful and self-denying energy have been severely censured for their “temporizing, time-serving policy.” Perhaps, upon mature thought, it may appear that the man who stands at safe distance from the field of battle, though he may have a better general view of the conflict, is not always the best judge of the hand-to-hand fight of those to whom the struggle is one of life or death. No city or State in the Union has greater reason to be proud of its record in the late war of secession than St. Louis and Missouri.

        Gradually the mists of partial knowledge clear away; but it will be many years yet before the North and South will thoroughly understand each other, either as to the past history of slavery or the present relations of the negro and white races. Meanwhile mutual forbearance may lead to increasing mutual affection and respect.

St. Louis Public Radio’s Marissanne Lewis-Thompson recently interviewed a team of Washington University students and faculty who recently uncovered this long-forgotten history while exploring Eliot’s legacy. “Many people view William Greenleaf Eliot as an abolitionist. History books highlight his role in co-founding Washington University as paramount, but they don’t question his anti-slavery views. Eliot was a pre-Civil War-era man, but the long-held belief that he was an abolitionist is nothing more than a myth that Eliot’s own writings disprove. Eliot was opposed to abolition, and he supported the idea of colonization. [https://news.stlpublicradio.org/culture-history/2021-12-22/washington-university-has-portrayed-its-co-founder-as-an-abolitionist-he-wasnt]

Iver Bernstein: Looking at the label from the present day, it really does seem that having that label serves some obvious function. It makes Eliot sort of a founding father you can be proud of — of Washington University. It’s a simple label. And it seems to put him on the side of morality and the angels. So there’s no question that the branding of the university as a kind of progressive enterprise, which of course in so many ways it is. But to have Eliot’s abolitionist imprimatur attached to that has been something that the university has been happy to have. But the question of when over the last 100-150 years, the mythology of Eliot as an abolitionist came about is something that I think is going to be a subject of future research.

In all fairness, future research must consider our country’s laws in which these people’s lives were spent, and not judge them by those of today.  Archer Alexander was born enslaved in Virginia, he bravely reported the treasonous actions of his owner to the Union Army and earned his place on the Emancipation Monument in Washington, D.C. which still stands today. Its’ time we get the story right.

Archer Alexander – The Untold Story of an American Hero is a forthcoming biography of Archer Alexander, by author Dorris Keeven-Franke [ https://dorriskeevenfranke.wordpress.com/ }as revealed by original documents of his lifetime from 1806 until 1880. For more about Archer Alexander see https://archeralexander.wordpress.com/

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