Made an early start, crossed the Warm Spring Mountain, lately improved by turn piking. Passed the Warm Springs where there were forty visitors and Hot Springs, where there were sixty. Were detained on the road by the oversetting and breaking of a South Carolina Sulky. We met in a narow place and he capsized and we had to help him refit before he could proceed; crossed Jackson’s River and the steep Morris Hill and came to the Shoomates [Shumates] at dark. He was an officious, sensible, kind and talkative landlord. This road is crowded with travelers passing to and from the springs. Our horses came.
This is the journal written in 1829 by William Campbell, of the journey from Lexington, in Rockbridge County, Virginia to St. Charles County Missouri, and includes the story of the enslaved Archer Alexander. 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.
In 1829, the issue of roads was extremely important to someone traveling across the country. William Campbell’s sharing of his journey was a common practice at this time. Travelers were migrating across country, and needed reliable information. He had stated “Our caravan when assembled will consist of four wagons, two carryalls, one Barouche and several horses, cows.and fifty people.” Then to come upon someone on a narrow road and have them capsize, meant your group coming to a complete stop and helping them ‘re-fit” everything packed back on to the wagon.
Roads followed the rivers because your horses and cattle would need watering. And while necessary, it could also be dangerous if bad weather ahead sent a flash flood rolling down the valley at you, By the expression turn piking Campbell means that a open pathway has been cleared which may even have a packed surface, perhaps rounded, setting itself out as a road way. They roads would twist back and forth because a fully loaded wagon was heavy and the grade was too steep to just climb straight up – or down. With four wagons, there are household goods, tents, and clothing packed in one for the McCluers, one for the Alexanders, one for the Icenhowers, and one for the Wilson family as well. Two more were carryalls, which used one horse each and would carry four or more people. A barouche is a wagon that carries four people, as there are two seats for two people and they are facing each other. Campbell, McNutt and Cummings are most likely each riding horses.