“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.”
I’d like to share a very old story in a new way. In the early 1800s the Missouri territory was a wide-open land of freedom and opportunity for nearly everyone. Thousands were making the trek. The great Westward Expansion was on! Wagons were loaded with the women and children, while the cows were herded, and the dogs followed, the slaves walked behind.
In 1829, a young man from Rockbridge County named William Campbell kept a diary of his journey from Lexington, through Kentucky, and Illinois to settle along a branch of the Dardenne Creek in St. Charles County. With that caravan were twenty-six enslaved who took that journey, leaving their families behind. Among them was 23-year-old Archer Alexander and his wife Louise. They kept no journals. It was against the law to teach a slave how to read or write.
For six weeks though they walked the same paths and climbed the same hills. People died and children were born. It’s an old story but we will tell it in a new way.Armed with Campbell’s journal in hand, Archer Alexander descendant Keith Winstead and I will make that journey again and share that story on the Archer Alexander blog. Starting in July, you too can follow the Archer Alexander blog and join in the journey. To truly know an ancestor, we sometimes have to take a walk in their shoes. What better way to understand a story, than to take the journey for oneself?
Sign up today and follow the journey. Archer Alexander is the Missouri slave that became an American hero, on the Emancipation Memorial in Washington, D.C.